His mum tutted loudly at him as he passed by her, on his way to the toaster. As much as he tried to conceal the bruises on his neck with his shirt collar, her vision was too keen and her intuition too well-trained to hide anything for long.
As he retrieved a couple of slices of toast for breakfast, his mum was still staring with disapproval at the love bite. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t need too. The silence spoke volumes and it saved her an embarrassing talk with his younger brother and sister.
He could at least eat his breakfast in peace, downing several glasses of orange juice, his slices of toast, sausages, baked beans and two eggs. He even had two cups of tea to wash it down with. Toast was usually all he had before a day at college, and the change in his most important meal of the day was picked up by his mother.
“Someone’s hungry.” She stated quietly as he washed up, joining him by the draining board to dry the dishes.
“Busy day at college yesterday, going to be even busier today.” He shrugged.
She glanced back to make sure the siblings were out of the room, then whispered. “You should bring her around to meet us, James. You’re obviously on good terms.”
“Mum!” There was a strangled quality to James’s voice, his cheeks bright red. Leaving his cup in the soapy water, he dried his hands and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek before leaving. It took a lot of effort to avoid blushing more at the amused expression on her face.
“You’re a twat.” James huffed as he fell into step alongside one of the boys at his college, a blond who favoured dark glasses, an elaborately patterned white shirt, and a black leather longcoat. “Why’d you have to leave that bruise, Ray?”
“I told you not to tense up so much, Jim.” Ray sighed theatrically. “Thank you, though. With all the stress of transferring here, I was getting light-headed from thirst. You look well this morning.”
James shrugged a little. “I had a good breakfast, and raided the local corner shop for protein- and iron-rich foods last night. It wasn’t so bad. Not like you read online.”
Ray chuckled at that. “Trust me, Jim, not a lot of what you read online is right.” As they strolled under the trees towards one of the campus buildings, the blond looked thoughtful. “I’ve yet to find a suppy around here. Would you be interested?”
“Maybe. Just… one condition?”
“No more bruises?”
“Good point.” James said. “Two conditions.”
“What’s the other one?” Ray asked, amused.
“I need help bringing a girl home who doesn’t mind pretending she did this.” James said, pointing at the side of his neck. “Mum noticed it.”
“Ah.” Ray mused. “I’ll see what I can do. Too afraid to tell her the truth of the matter?”
He pondered on that for a moment as they entered the building. “She’d only worry I’ll wind up a chomp job.”
The blond sniffed derisively. “I don’t chomp.” Ray declared with his usual dramatic flair. “I give sharp kisses.”