'Ahmet? His name is Ahmet? Will, where in the world did you meet this guy?' Roman asked suspiciously, eagerly. Roman likes gay gossip. He has the nature of a homosexual hairdresser, tucked inside the body of a straight law student.
I winced. 'He's actually a friend of a friend of Brett's.'
Roman stopped mid sit-up. His tanned face was read and sweaty, and tendrils of sun-streaked hair were plastered to his forehead. 'Are you serious?'
'Uh-huh.' I nodded.
Why was this bad news? Because Brett was one-half of my foster parents. And trust me, your average nineteen year old queer does not want to be screwing someone who might have, at some stage, discussed his sex life with your legal guardian.
Roman returned to his exercise. 'And does Brett know about this?'
'Um, I don't think so. I certainly hope not.'
'Yeah, I know.' I did another couple of sit-ups before answering. Lord alone knows why Roman and I can't even exercise without talking, but we can't. I expect we annoy the crap out of the other gym patrons. 'The other thing is...um…I'm kind of going out with him on Thursday. He asked me for my number on Saturday, but I thought…well, you know, I thought it was just one of those things…but he called.'
'Do you want to see him again?'
'Well, yes. He has a sexy accent. And it's not like I've got anything else going on in my life.'
That was the truth. I was two months post break-up from Tom, clean-living triathlete extroidainaire and face of a popular breakfast cereal. I'd been…well, horny. I'd been horny, and I'd drunk too much and when Brett and Michael – Brett's boyfriend and the second of my foster parents – had decided to head home, I had made the decision to stay behind and hang out with a group of men who had learned English as a second language. Gay men who'd leaned English as a second language. You'd be surprised at what intentions are easily understood amongst cultures.
'How old is he and what does he do?'
'He's a dentist, and I'd say he's about twenty-five. Is that too old?'
'I'd be more concerned that Brett might find out,' Romie argued. 'Never mind. Does he have a good car?'
'I don't know. I haven't seen it.'
Roman can be unashamedly materialistic. 'Tell me what it is when you find out. You've never had a boyfriend with a decent car.'
'Tom won a new Hyundai at a triathlon.'
'My point exactly.'
Given the importance Roman placed on cars, I felt it was a pity that on Thursday night he wasn't around to see Ahmet's. Ahmet had a dark blue BMW that looked considerably newer than any of my previous lovers' cars.
Unfortunately for me, my younger foster brother Ben was around. I'd assumed that he would be out – rarely are any of my foster family home on a Thursday evening, they always head out to sports or late night shopping – but tonight Ben was here, and he was more than a little interested in the car that had pulled up out front.
'I'll tell you about it later,' I lied to him.
'You won't tell me,' Ben argued. He stared at me appraisingly. I wasn't wearing 'movies' clothes; I was wearing 'I'm out to impress someone' clothes, and we both knew it. 'You're weird. You should find a girlfriend. I know lots of girls who say you're hot. They'd date you.'
'I think there are laws against me dating thirteen year old girls,' I muttered, twisting my hands nervously. I have big, skinny hands with horribly chewed nails. What can I say? I'm a tall, skinny, insecure kind of person. 'I'm going. Don't tell Brett or Mike, okay?'
Ben rolled his blue eyes. He didn't understand homosexuality, and he was always bugging me about it. I wished he'd hassle Brett and Michael instead, but he somehow saw them as being untouchable. Instead, I bore the brunt of his crap. I put up with it only because, for the most part, I didn't dislike him. He was a nice enough kid.
'Please don't tell them,' I repeated. 'It's complicated.'
He sighed. 'I won't.'
I left him to his devices and made my way out to Ahmet's car. It smelled as new as it looked, though there was a can of Fanta in the cupholder, and a half eaten pack of jelly beans between his legs.
'You'll rot your teeth eating that junk.' I told him.
He smiled. He had brilliant, white, teeth. He had good skin, too; very light olive in colour and flawless. 'You're a bad tease.'
I smiled uncertainly, uncomfortably. I quite liked him, which was unfortunately, because I knew I was too young for him. Too immature. Probably too Australian, too.
Ahmet laughed and handed me the jelly beans. 'I've had a long day. A man's crown broke, and he said he needed it fixed straight away. I didn't get to eat lunch.'
'Oh. You could have cancelled. I wouldn't have minded.'
'You better have minded,' he grinned. 'I've only been in Australia three months, so you're the first Aussie who gets to take me out. Isn't that an honour?'
I laughed. 'I suppose it is. What country are you from?'
'Turkey. My family immigrated to Australia a few years ago. They live in Victoria. They asked me to come and live with them, but,' he shrugged. 'Who wants to live that close to their parents? Living in the same country is close enough. Besides, I had friends who were immigrating to Brisbane, which made it more appealing. I'd rather move somewhere where I know other men.'
'Trust me, you probably don't want to live in Victoria anyway,' I assured him. 'Brisbane is a dump, but Victoria is a dump where everyone has a very high opinion of themselves.'
'No wonder they love it.'
Some people sound bitter when they speak about their families, but Ahmet simply seemed amused by his relatives.
Most things seemed to amuse him. He had a very happy-go-lucky attitude, and I soon learned that he wasn't actually that skilled in pre-planning events. This extended to our date. He was organized enough to ring me, and pick me up at the designated time, but now that I was in his car, he confessed he had no idea exactly what we would be doing.
'Maybe we could go and get something to eat.' I suggested, noticing the way he was staring at my lap. It was either the jellybeans, or my crotch that he was interested in. I couldn't figure out which, and it was one of those things that could have gone either way.
The car swerved over to the side of the road. I jolted, shocked. I hadn't been paying attention, and automatically assumed Ahmet had lost control. Instead, Ahmet drew to a halt and put on the park brake.
'You can drive,' he offered. 'Take me to a nice restaurant.'
'I have a terrible driving record,' I warned him. It was true. I had a drink driving conviction, a speeding ticket, and I'd twice been let off with a warning for lane splitting on my motorcycle.
'I have insurance.'
I'd never driven a swisher car. Most people have enough common sense to keep my away from their vehicles, but my date was obviously very trusting. He was also, I later learned, a very picky eater.
We sat together in the restaurant I had chosen. It was a pizza and steak joint, and I'd – at Ahmet's request – ordered for both of us. Half an hour after placing the order, my date was turning his surprisingly nicely-shaped nose up at his dinner.
'What?' I asked nervously. My knowledge of Turkey was fairly limited, but I seemed to recall a good portion of their population was Muslim. Ben was Muslim, so I had a vague idea of the dietary restrictions. I knew pork was a no-no. That's why I'd gone for steak and not pizza. 'It's from a cow.'
'From a cow? It looks like half the cow.' Ahmet shrugged. 'I'll eat it.'
Beneath the table, he hooked one leg around mine. I glanced up in surprise. His dark brown eyes were glowing with amusement. He'd been taking the piss out of me.
I could feel myself blush. I don't know why it is I prefer older men, when older men always make me feel embarrassed. They highlight my inexperience.
'Next time, I'll take you out,' he promised. 'Maybe I could even make you dinner.'
'Would you poison me?'
'Of course not. Turkish people are very hospitable. Wasn't I hospitable on Saturday evening?'
I thought back. 'Absolutely.'
He smirked. 'You shouldn't have left; you should have stayed the night.'
'I only left because I didn't want Brett…well, I didn't want him to know what I was doing,' I admitted. 'Would you want your father to know about something like that?'
'My father is not like yours. Brett's like you and me.'
I shrugged. 'I still don't want him to find out.'
Ahmet picked up his fork. He looked at me idly and asked, casually. 'Whatever would you do if you and I became serious?'
I laughed uneasily. 'Well, I expect I'd tell him eventually. But not now. There's no reason.'
He nodded. 'I understand. These things,' he gestured to himself and I, 'normally fritter away, anyway, don't they?'
'Yeah. Yeah, that's usually what happens.'
It wasn't what I wanted to happen, but I didn't want him to become overly serious, either. It was enough that he'd made his intentions clear. He was interested in me, and I'd shown him I was also interested in seeing how things developed. My stomach flipped pleasantly.
Ahmet picked up his plate and gave me his steak. 'I've had enough. I'm going to order dessert.'