Almost there. Cheers for the reviews and thanks, yes, I LOVE holidays:)

Shay was thrilled to see me. Thrilled, that is, until he realised I was stoned.

'Did you guys get kicked out of the pub?' he asked.

'No. Why would you think that?' Gary asked.

Shay frowned in a way reminiscent of a middle-aged high-school math teacher. Gary, catching sight of Shay's expression, burst into laughter. I glanced over at Gary, saw the odd humour in the situation, and started to snicker.

'You should come inside,' Shay suggested, tugging on my arm. 'Gary, come inside. This is your caravan.'

Both Gary and I required assistance walking inside and sitting down. We were now crying with laughter, and our amusement increased exponentially when Gary whacked his hip on the side of the kitchen table, swore, and dropped his cigarette.

Shay picked up the cigarette and put it out in the sink. 'We'll have to pay for any damage we do,' he reminded us. 'Maybe you shouldn't smoke inside.'

'Good idea,' Gary agreed. 'I'll go out. I'll go out and...'

He never finished his sentence, although he did stand up and stumble out of the van. Shay and I stayed seated for a few seconds, before my companion announced he was going to see exactly where it was Gary was heading.

I stayed in the van and drank my water while Shay went out. He returned a few minutes later, with the news that several of our group had been turfed out of the pub for unruly behaviour - something that failed to surprise either of us - and they were continuing the party back at our van. Gary had decided to hang out with them and 'have fun'.

'He said we could stay here for the night,' Shay finished uncomfortably.

We glanced around the van. There was only one bed; a double one. There were no bunks, nowhere else to sleep.

'Do you want me to sleep in my truck?' he asked.

'No.' I cleared my throat. 'No.'

'Okay. Um, I'm ready to go to bed now. Do you mind?'

Through my stoned haze I realised that he looked tired. Not just physically tired, but emotionally exhausted, as though he'd recently gone through an ordeal. I understand why, of course. I'd abandoned him. I - the person who he loved and trusted - had left him to have sex with someone he didn't want to.

'You know what's funny?' I asked, as we went to the bed. 'You didn't want to fuck that hooker, but you did. When we were in jail, I didn't want to let you fuck me, but I had to. Right now, you look how I used to feel. Isn't that funny?'

'No. No, it's not funny, Carmine.' Shay took my hand. 'I'm sorry. I didn't realise that was how it was for you. I never would have done it if I'd known.'

I laughed. 'Shut-up. It's funny.' I leant forward and grabbed his shirt. It was sweaty and crumpled and there was a bright blue feather from the hooker's boa on it. 'You're hot. She probably loved screwing you.'


I kissed him, forcing my tongue into his mouth. Shay responded with a level of interest that told me he wasn't thrilled to be on the receiving end of a kiss.

'Enjoy this,' I mumbled, grabbing his crotch. 'It's your birthday.'

'Christ, Carmine, get the fuck away from me,' he exclaimed, pushing me away. He noticed the hurt expression on my face and softened. 'Don't take that personally. You're stoned. You'll regret this tomorrow,' he explained. 'Gary shouldn't have gotten you high. He knows you shouldn't have any drugs. You probably shouldn't drink, either. I've seen what you're like when you're drunk.'

I sat on the edge of the bed and removed my shoes and socks. 'I'm horny, but I still like you.'

Shay kicked off his jeans, so that he was in his boxers and a shirt, and lay down alongside me. 'If you still like me tomorrow, I promise we can do this then.'

'Would you forgive me for having it off with Jackie?'

'I've already forgiven you.'

'Oh.' I lay down alongside him and glanced over. 'That's very nice of you.'

Shay rolled his eyes. 'Go to sleep.'

'I will,' I agreed. 'One more thing; would you be my boyfriend again? If I said I loved you, would you tell me you loved me, too?'

Shay got up to turn out the light. 'What do you think, Carmine?'

'I think 'yes'.' I guessed.

'You think correctly.'

I woke the next morning with a terrible headache and a sore arm from sleeping in an awkward position. Shay was lying alongside me, with his arms behind his head.

'Morning,' he murmured.

'Morning.' I replied. Blood rushed to my face as I remembered last night. Fucking hell, what had I done? And on his birthday? 'I'm so sorry, Shay. About last night. Fuck, I'm so sorry.'

'It doesn't matter.' He smiled and kicked my foot. 'I'm glad I didn't let it go too far last night. Are you?'

I shut my eyes and took a deep breath. The conversation was too heavy for someone who'd only been awake for ten seconds. 'Yeah. Yes. Thank-you.'

Shay rolled onto his stomach. 'You shouldn't drink or take drugs, Carmine. You shouldn't smoke, either, but it's the drinking and drugs that are the worst.'

'I know,' I admitted. 'It's pretty stupid.'

'You would have slept with just about anyone.'

'No,' I corrected. I took a deep breath. Fuck it, here it went. 'Only you. Last night, you were the only one with a chance.'

'But you're still happy you didn't do it, hey?'

'I'm glad I didn't do it wasn't...with it...enough to enjoy it.'

It was the relevation I thought he'd been waiting for. Certainly, the way he was questioning me, and the expression on his face told me he wanted to hear it, but when I actually voiced it, he shied away. He rolled off the bed and into a standing position and brushed his hands through his hair. I sat up, embarrassed and confused, and waited for a response.

'My head hurts,' he said. 'I'm going for a jog.'

'I'll come with you.'

He shrugged. 'Okay. I'm only going for a few kilometres.'

Shay informed me that he had gone to our original van an hour or so earlier, when he first woke up, and retrieved our bags. Gary and the others were only just heading into bed at the time. This meant that although we wouldn't be leaving the caravan park any time soon, at least we had clean clothes to change into.

I found shorts and a shirt and pulled on my grotty old sneakers, while Shay changed into grey running shorts, a singlet, and proper running shoes.

'You came here planning on exercising?' I asked, perplexed.

Shay smiled shyly. 'It's a good way to get rid of a hangover.'

'Oh my God,' I swore. 'Do you have any idea how insane you sound? Normal people take Panadol and spend the day in bed.'

It was clear to both of us that I was obviously being a fucking idiot when I said I'd go jogging with him. Jogging? Oh please, mine was not a body that was accustomed to exercise. I was under the impression that my job, being fairly labour intensive, provided all the physical challenges my twenty-five year old self needed.

The run was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life. I was tired, hungover, dehydrated, and nowhere near as fit as Shay. Male pride prevented me from stopping, but all the acting in the world couldn't disguise the fact that I really wasn't fit enough for this kind of activity.

'We'll stop when we get to that sign up there,' Shay suggested.

The sign was only fifty metres away. I broke out into a sprint, pursuing the sign in a way not unlike a greyhound chasing a lure.

Shay kindly let me race ahead, and jogged up to me with a grin on his face. We both knew that although I'd reached the target first, Shay was the one who'd be able to jog back to the caravan park without having an aneurism.

'Don't you feel better?' he asked.

I tried to fake a laugh, but ended up coughing. Smoking was leaving a thick layer of sludge on my lungs. It was a comforting sludge to have, but I preferred it when it was stuck in my lungs not trying to force it's way into my mouth. 'No.'

'I bet your head doesn't hurt,' he argued.

'Yours will when I whack you,' I threatened.

Shay laughed and ran ahead. I tried running after him, but quickly realised this was an incredibly bad idea, and yelled for him to stop.

'I thought you were going to hit me?' he asked.

'I will after I have a smoke.'

'Your cigarettes are at the caravan park.'

'I know. Consider this a warning.'

Shay laughed. 'You're too fucking funny.'

I sauntered up to him, and we fell into pace, walking along a path that bordered the ocean. I found myself wondering if he knew how much I cared for him. Last night had made my realise a few things. First and foremost, he really wasn't an evil person. He wasn't a big, bad, aggressive guy who enjoyed fighting; he was just a guy who'd refused to have the crap beaten out of him. Additionally, he probably hadn't realised how much I'd disliked prison sex. Finally, even though last night he had me willing and able to have sex with him, he'd knocked me back. He needed - demanded - that I want him, not merely be horny and ready for a root.



'You know how last night you said you'd give me another chance? Does that offer still stand?'

'Of course it does.'

'Oh.' I frowned. 'No worries. You didn't sound so eager when I asked you about it when I woke up.'

'It kinda threw me off,' he replied apologetically. 'I'd told myself not to, well, not to put too much value on what you said last night. I figured you were stoned and talking shit. I dunno, Carmine. You know I like you. I've hassled you enough, eh?' he grinned. 'I didn't want to sorta put myself in that mindset again. I knew that if you wanted what I want, then you'd give me the signs.'

'Am I giving you the right signs?'

'I hope so.' He looked anxious. 'You are, right?'

'Right,' I replied, infinitely relieved. 'So it's settled?'

'Yes. Settled. Will you marry me?'


'Never mind.' Shay blushed. 'I was making a joke. Hey, you want breakfast? There's a bakery across the road.'

'I don't have any money.'

Shay patted his pocket. 'I bought my keycard.'

We sat outside the bakery eating pies and drinking coffee. It reminded me of when I used to work at the bakery, back before I ran into Luke and got the job at T.J.'s. For a long time, I'd thought I was happier back then, without a worry in the world except for a relative lack of money. In hindsight, I realised I hadn't been happy. I'd been continually broke, living literally from paycheck to paycheck, and often rising in the wee hours of the morning to put in two hours work, and being paid minimum wage for my efforts. Shit, T.J.'s had been hard, and a hell of an adjustment, but overall, it was a much better job and for the first time in my life, I had prospects. I wouldn't be an apprentice forever. One day I'd be a builder, earning a damn good salary, and with skills I could take just about anywhere.

'You look stressed,' Shay remarked.

'That's only because I haven't had a smoke yet,' I assured him. I smiled brightly, pleased that he was my boyfriend. Yeah, he was doughy, and an oaf, but he was sweet and kind and very much mine.

Shay rolled his eyes and handed me his keycard. He nodded his head in the direction of the convenience store that was situated next door. 'Four-eight-six-nine is the PIN number. Buy yourself a pack of smokes.'

'Is there enough money in your account?'

'Um, there's three grand in there.'

I snorted. 'Show off.'

Our exhange served to remind me that he was earning a lot more money than me. I told myself it didn't matter, and found that I believed what I was saying. It didn't matter, because Shay was the kind of guy who didn't care about that sort of stuff.

I was soon happily lighting up a cigarette. A plastic bag dangled from my wrist and I sauntered happily over to Shay and handed him his keycard.


He shrugged. 'I'll work on you quitting later. I still have those patches at home.'

'Urgh, don't remind me.'

We were soon walking back to the caravan, our stomachs full and my nicotine cravings temporarily satisfied. It was still fairly early on a Sunday morning, maybe eight o'clock or so, but I was refreshed from six or seven hours sleep, and sufficiently awake following my jog and meal. Shay had been right; the excerise had rid me of my hangover.

When we arrived at the caravan and went inside, I laid my plastic bag down on the table and smiled at Shay.

'What did you buy?' he asked.

'Condoms. Lubricant.'

Shay's eyes lit up. 'Sweet.'

We locked the caravan door and drew the curtains shut. You can probably imagine what happened next. All I really need to say is that damn, it was good.