18. New silent

Chapter 18

Paris was a beautiful city. Michael watched the people on the streets and the buildings they passed with interest. These streets were haunted by memories, he had been here once with his family and the other time with Ricky. With Ricky he had only seen the remote alleys and diners and it was not the time he happily remembered.

 Now he walked alongside Jean as he, Eric and Paul introduced the city to him. At times he saw a café or a restaurant he had passed a decade ago with his parents. Here he was closer to his family than in years and his heart ached for home more than words could ever describe.

They went on a cruise on the Seine, the day was sunny and warm. Jean stood beside him on the deck and spoke with a calm voice of the attractions that the cruiser passed. It felt odd being there, odd to be suddenly among regular people and be a part of the normal existence. In New York he had always felt like an outsider and other normal people had been like a mirages; impossible to connect with.

Now he watched silently around him, tourists who were taking pictures, laughing children and adults. A group of young women, perhaps the same age as him, stood a little farther away. They were clinking champagne glasses and taking pictures of each other, giggling and speaking in a language that sounded funny in his ears. Michael watched them smiling, wondering how his life would have been if he hadn’t gone with Ricky. He would have gone to college instead and… Now he could have had a group of friends to go partying with and travel around the world with, carefree. The world would have seemed so different, to be able to look at everything through different eyes, innocent and head filled with dreams.

Jean touched his hand and Michael turned to look at the man who gave him a gentle smile. Michael felt a sudden rush of gratitude and warmth and so he snuggled a little closer to him. He missed Jack, but for the first time in a long time he remembered things about himself that he had thought to lose forever.

”What are you thinking, chéri?” Jean whispered in his ear and Michael smiled watching how the sun glistened on the water.

”I’m thinking how lucky I was to have met you.” Michael whispered and Jean couldn’t help but to smile. He brought his arm around Michael’s shoulders and kissed the crown of his head.

”Should we go to eat after?” Eric asked, stepping closer. Michael brought his head up, glanced at Jean who nodded.

”Yes, I want to treat Michael a proper French meal.”

That evening Michael allowed himself to relax. They ate and drank, Eric and Paul told him things that made him laugh more freely than in years. The men had been together for fifteen years and Michael found it interesting to watch how they were with each other and ask them about their relationship. Sure they fought at times, Eric said, sure their eyes wandered from time to time, but they had been loyal to each other and would be in the future. The wild sex adventures could be left to others Paul had chuckled and smiled at Eric who had touched his hand gently and hinted that their adventures together were wild enough. The world had some good left; love was possible when one didn’t expect the impossible from it.

That night Jean was very gentle with him when they had sex and Michael believed that with time his feelings for the man would grow stronger, even now he felt his affection waking.

The first weeks Jean spent a lot of time with him, he introduced the city to him so that Michael would know his way around there and learn to use the subway and read the maps. Eric and Paul were often with them and Michael felt safe with them. However, he still thought of Jack daily, missing him deeply.

After being in Paris for a month, Jean wanted to throw a party for his honor as well as for his good friend Patrick who had just returned from a long trip abroad. Michael felt nervous, he wouldn’t have wanted to attend the party. The word; party alone had come to mean something horrible and painful to him. He knew that his fear was ridiculous, there wasn’t going to be anything sexual, it wasn’t like it had been with Ricky. Jean only wanted him to meet all his friends. Still, he couldn’t shake his anxiety away.

He tried his best to cover that way he felt from Jean and when the evening arrived Michael got dressed in his finest to make Jean proud. He drank a couple glasses of wine and felt himself starting to relax. This was such an evening when he really missed smoking weed, he imagined how the joint would feel against his lips, the first breath, that warm and light feeling that would follow… If someone would have offered Michael knew he wouldn’t be able to refuse.

Eric and Paul arrived earlier than others on purpose. Although Michael hadn’t talked to Jean about how uncomfortable he felt, the man knew it without saying. Michael talked to Eric and Paul, drank some more wine and managed to relax enough to laugh with them. There was nothing to fear; he kept telling himself, what had happened with Ricky was in the past and Jean wouldn’t force him into the same experience.

Patrick arrived next, the man was the same age as Jean and they had known each other nearly twenty years.

”Jean”, Patrick smiled, placed his hands on his friends shoulders and kissed both of his cheeks. ”You look well.” He complimented.

”So do you, it’s wonderful to see you after such a long time!” Jean said and batted Patrick’s back. ”Come, I want to introduce you to my beloved.” He said excitedly and led him further in the living room, where Michael was with the two other men.

Eric had just been about to tell a funny incident from his previous workday when Jean and Patrick stepped into the room. Their arrival immediately silenced the man. Michael smiled with curiosity looking at Jean and his friend, but from the corner of his eye he noticed Eric’s grim look, which didn’t seem to suit his usually gentle and cheerful face.

”Chéri, here’s my closest and oldest friend Patrick. Patrick, here he is, my sweet, young British, Michael.” The man cocked his brow, smiled somewhat crookedly before offering his hand to him, which Michael took with a small smile. The man wasn’t particularly handsome, he was somewhat curious looking. His face was narrow, the nose slightly convex, light green eyes under which he had clear eye bags. Thin lips and plain brown hair combed back. Patrick was lean and almost as tall as Jean. He wore stylish and expensive clothes.

”Nice to meet you,” Michael said and the man gave him an estimating look from head to toe. He then nodded with a somewhat smug expression before letting go of his hand.

”Charming,” Patrick muttered and glanced at Jean with a grin on his face. The man said something to Jean in French and Michael only recognized the words; Anglais putain, which meant an English whore. Then Patrick laughed and glanced at Michael again before turning into the kitchen, Jean smiled, even looking slightly amused and Michael swallowed.

”Jean!” Eric hissed and snapped out something in French. Michael felt his chest tighten and he brought the glass to his lips with a trembling hand. He heard Jean respond with a calm voice before he leaned closer, kissed Michael’s forehead and smiled as if nothing special had happened.

”You look sexy…” Jean whispered and Michael couldn’t help but to shudder. The doorbell rang and Jean went to welcome the arrivals.

”Eric, what did that man say?” Michael asked quietly. Paul looked serious as well when he looked towards Patrick.

”It doesn’t matter Michael. That man is an idiot and he will never change. I’ve never liked him.” Eric whispered tightly.

”Neither have I. ” Paul admitted and Eric looked at his partner, planting a kiss on the smaller, blond man’s cheek, who gave him a soft smile back.

”Patrick tried to come on to Paul once when he was drunk, suggesting lord knows what to him.” Eric finally said. ”He tried to grope him too and blamed it on being drunk. I have no tolerance for that creep.” Paul massaged Eric’s arm in a calming manner.

”Calm down love, it was years ago and he really was drunk.” Paul sighed and glanced at Michael with a small smile. ”It doesn’t change the fact that he is an asshole, drunk or not. But unfortunately Jean is blind to his faults. Just try to avoid him the best you can.” Paul advised.

”I understand some words in French, I know what he called me.” Michael said quietly and Eric sighed.

”Patrick is so damn full of himself! Without reason! He is ugly, uncivilized asshole, who tries to make up for his faults with fancy clothes and blabbering universal bullshit.” The man fumed and emptied his glass. Michael couldn’t help but to wonder if the situation between Paul and Patrick had really been worse than what they let on. Eric’s hatred towards the man felt so extended.

”You must know, Jean must have told you what…” Michael started with insecurity and both men gave him a sad look.

”You had no choice, Michael and can’t be judged for what you were forced into.” Eric said quietly. ”Don’t ever let that define you, Michael. Don’t let ignorant people like Patrick define you.” The man glanced towards the kitchen when he heard Jean’s laughter mixing with Patrick’s. Michael looked in the same direction. Eric hesitated a moment, glanced at Paul who smiled sadly knowing what he was thinking. ”Michael, sometimes when Jean drinks… he is… Well, he doesn’t always think his behavior through, or what he says. He cares for you greatly though.” The man sighed; the boy was looking at him with big, questioning eyes. ”Patrick’s company doesn’t do him any good. That man brings out the worst in him.” Michael nodded and tried to smile.

”I think I’ve seen enough in the past to be able to handle it. Jean has been so good to me, I can’t help but to feel grateful.” Eric smiled with sadness and touched his shoulder.

”I like you Michael. Never let anyone put you down, not Jean or anyone, especially never put yourself down. You’re as good and deserving of normal life and choices as anyone else.” Eric smiled.

”I’m still learning to remember who I was before, with small steps, perhaps one day I’ll get there?” Michael replied with a small smile.

”You will, I’m sure.”

The evening progressed; more Jean’s friends had arrived. Michael had introduced himself politely to everyone but stayed mostly with Eric and Paul with whom he felt safe. Jean and Patrick were the loudest as they talked with the four other men: Alcohol was flowing and Michael noticed how Jean’s behavior changed the drunker he got. He didn’t know what the men talked about as the conversation was in French, but Jean’s voice and gestures revealed the change. Michael eased his own drinking, often his thoughts trailed to Jack, wondering where the other was and what he was doing at that moment. The longing didn’t seem to ease.

”Hey, Michael… We have to leave. Paul’s niece has a christening tomorrow.” Eric explained and glanced towards Jean and the other men looking slightly concerned. ”Do yourself a favor and go to bed early.” Eric advised and smiled softly. Michael nodded.

”I’m a bit tired,” Michael admitted and he didn’t feel any desire to join Jean and his drunken friends. Their company felt nerving, especially when he saw the way they looked at him.

”See you soon. Remember that you can always call me or Paul, if… Well if you just want to talk, or anything.” Michael smiled.

”Thank you, Eric, Paul.” He hugged them both and watched how they said goodbyes to the others. His anxiety grew when they left. Michael felt fear pinching in the bottom of his stomach and tried to tell himself over and over that he was completely safe while Jean was there. He walked towards the bedroom wanting to sneak away from the prying eyes.

”Chéri, come here,” Jean called, grinned and tapped his knee. Everyone was looking at him, Michael swallowed.

”I’m really tired, Jean.” He replied.

”Come, just for a moment.” Jean insisted. Michael cursed silently, his heart pounding in his chest.

”Just a small moment.” He finally agreed, not seeing a way to refuse. He walked slowly towards the men. He heard their whispering and didn’t dare to look at anyone. ”I’m sorry,” he whispered when one man’s feet were on his way. Michael had forgotten their names. The man chuckled and moved his feet. Jean pulled him close to sit on his lap.

”Have you had fun, chéri?” Jean asked with a drunken slur and brushed his finger against his lips. Michael nodded, feeling uncomfortable, he tried to smile. ”Give me a kiss,” Jean grinned and brought his head closer. Michael shuddered, leaned hastily forward and tried to give a quick peck on his lips. Jean however took a proper hold of him and kissed him hungrily making Michael gasp surprised while others gave a drunken cheer. Michael struggled free; his heart rate speeded up, panic, unpleasant memories.

”Take something to drink boy, cheer up?” One of the men said and offered his glass closer. Michael shook his head.

”I want to go to sleep, I’m sorry Jean…” He tried to get up.

”Unusually boring company this whore of yours, Jean… Although, perhaps his looks make up for his other faults.” Patrick laughed and something inside Michael snapped. He struggled himself up from Jean’s lap and breathed tensely.

”I didn’t come here to be your whore, Jean! An entertainment to you and your friends! You promised me that I wouldn’t have to put up anything like this anymore! You promised!” Michael exclaimed with frustration before rushing to the bedroom and banging the door close after him.

Jean sighed deeply, realized somewhere in his drunken mind that he had made a big mistake and was about to rise and go to apologize. ”Leave that whore alone, he should be grateful to you and crawl at your feet for what you did for him!” Patrick said tightly. ”That brat should be taught some humility!”

”Patrick, he has a name, use it.” Jean snapped and brought the bottle to his lips. He decided after all to give Michael some time alone. His head ached and his mind grew dark. Finally he asked somewhat rudely that his friends would leave. He wanted to sleep the bad feeling away. That night he slept on the couch.

Michael slept poorly the whole night. He heard the men leaving, heard Jean cursing to himself and throw something off the table, he heard glass breaking and lay still and trembling. Jean didn’t come to him that night and he listened to his drunken snoring from the living room. He was afraid that Jean would be angry with him and at the same time he reminded himself that he had every right to say what he had. Eric was right, he shouldn’t let the past affect him, a past that he hadn’t chosen for himself. However, it was easier said than done.

When Jean awoke he followed the noise from the kitchen and found Michael washing the dishes from last night. The boy turned to look at him, startled, looking afraid and Jean sighed deeply as he walked closer. ”I’m sorry Michael,” he said and gave a tender kiss to his cheek. ”I was an idiot last night, can you forgive me?” Michael nodded carefully and Jean brushed his hair with his hand.

”I don’t like Patrick,” Michael whispered, continuing to wash the dishes.

”Don’t mind him… Patrick doesn’t always think what he says.” Jean snuggling against Michael’s back, placing his hands on his hips.

”Jean, can I ask you something?”

”What, chéri?” The man kissed his neck and moved his hands along his sides.

”To make it easier for me to get over the past, I hope that you won’t tell people what I was… That I was a … prostitute… Last night I felt uncomfortable that everyone knew.”

”I happened to tell them when I met you, I told them how I had met this handsome and sweet whore and well… I didn’t know then that I would be able to take you home with me.” The word; whore caught Michael’s ear and how easily Jean used the word.

”I understand,” Michael whispered. ”But can you promise me that you won’t tell others and ask your friends that they wouldn’t spread it around either? I would like to just… be myself, Michael, ordinary, like everyone else.” Michael turned his eyes on Jean who smiled and touched his cheek.

”Alright chéri, I promise.” Jean assured and kissed him. ”I’m horny,” he whispered after. ”Leave the dishes and let’s go to the bedroom.” Michael nodded and did like Jean wanted. Jean had agreed to what he had asked and that was important.

**^^**^^**^^**

Patrick visited them often, a fact which Michael hated. Like Paul had warned him, Jean seemed blind to his friends’ faults. Every time that Jean wasn’t there to witness, Patrick teased and touched Michael, squeezing his buttocks or his crotch, whispering nasty things in his ear. There were a couple times when the man had even tried to kiss him when he had been drunk. Patrick’s behavior towards him was demeaning; in his eyes Michael was a whore that didn’t deserve to be treated equally. Michael hadn’t dared to say anything to Jean, he probably wouldn’t believe it. A friend’s word against a word of a whore, – Patrick had laughed one time. The man also claimed that he had some porn films where he was performing, films where Michael seemed to enjoy fully. Michael didn’t want to believe it, but on the other hand he didn’t remember half of those times that Ricky had ”sold” him. Perhaps he had been drugged enough to make it seem like he had enjoyed it, when in reality he had been in a completely different world while it took place. Michael didn’t know and he was confused. Patrick  taunted him with the idea to shove those tapes to Jean, which Michael didn’t want him to do. It was a different thing to know about something than to actually see it happen for real.

Months went by, Jean had told him he loved him. The man repeated his confession of love often and Michael replied that he felt the same way. It wasn’t the same kind of love that he had felt for Jack or Tony. He cared for Jean and was devoted to him. He wanted Jean’s love and appreciation, affection, but the love he felt wasn’t passionate or breathtaking, it was complicated and born gradually. When they were alone, when Jean was sober, Michael felt at ease and safe. But when Jean drank or was with Patrick, something changed and the change was unpleasant.

Jean was also jealous, when a strange man came to talk to Michael at a club, an argument followed. Jean sometimes believed Michael was looking at someone the wrong way; flirting and he got angry. Michael didn’t know what this look was that agitated Jean. He was careful and tried his best to avoid situations that could lead to Jean’s jealousy.

When Jean was working, Michael studied French. He could often walk along the streets of Paris with headphones on, studying French words and phrases. He walked long distances. One of his favorite routes was walking slowly along the Seine, at times sitting in the parks, looking at people. And this was one of his favorite activities; watching others, normal people, small stolen moments of their happiness or grief. He thought about things a lot, thought about himself and his place in the world. He tried to remember the boy he had once been, remember things that he had lost to get at least a small piece of it back.

Certain melancholia had followed him, a weight on his shoulders that seemed impossible to shake off. Emptiness inside, something was missing. His family was a big part of it and then something else, something that was difficult to grasp properly. Whatever that was, it was the piece, the important piece that could probably make him feel happy again. It was forever since he had last been happy, with Jean he was content, he couldn’t complain, not really. Perhaps contentment was the best he could ask for anymore.

Too often he lost track of time on these walks and then Jean would call him in a temper and demand him to return home. Michael always did. Jean had promised him that he wouldn’t be a prisoner; still with him he could never feel truly free. Unwritten rules that he had to follow, one was to always be in Jean’s reach. Although Jean wouldn’t admit it out loud, it was clear that in their relationship Jean decided the rules and they were not to be negotiated.

May 2001

Patrick’s voice traveled to his ears from the living room, Michael gritted his teeth and continued chopping the vegetables. His nerves were tense, Patrick’s behavior only grew worse, his arrogance was sickening and Jean… Jean just didn’t see it. Michael prepared dinner as slowly as he could only to avoid Patrick’s company. Soon he heard the balcony door opening as Jean went to have a smoke. Steps neared the kitchen and Michael moved nervously, glancing over at his shoulder to Patrick’s sneering face. The man got closer and brought his hands on his buttocks, squeezing and causing him to yelp. He tried to move away but Patrick pressed against his back and held him against the kitchen counter. The man moved his hips against him, licking his earlobe.

”Stop!” Michael demanded, trying to squirm away.

”There, there…” Patrick laughed. ”I know you like it,” he teased and brought his hand down on Michael’s crotch, rubbing him rather harshly.

”Patrick stop!” Michael yelled, felt tears in his eyes. He couldn’t take this anymore, the continuous harassment from the man. He was afraid that one day Jean would leave them together longer and Patrick would take that situation to his advantage.

”If Jean wouldn’t be home, I’d drop your pants and fuck you right here while you would prepare dinner…” Patrick breathed. ”I think you would like it, the whore that you are. Perhaps you would like me to pay for it. Tell me Michael, what’s the going rate of the day?” Patrick continued his unwelcome groping; Michael squeezed his hold on the knife, kicked the man as hard as he could and pointed the knife towards Patrick’s chest, trembling.

”Do not touch me!” Michael hissed. Patrick brought his hands up, backing away slightly, the annoying grin stayed glued to his face.

”Rough games, huh Michael?” He chuckled. Michael’s breathing was tense and slowly he lowered the knife.

”What on earth is going on here?” Jean, who had just entered the room, asked. He looked between his friend and his lover with confusion. Michael held a knife in his hands and had tears in his eyes.

”There’s something you should know about your so-called friend, Jean. He’s harassing me, touching and telling his dirty fantasies in my ears and I’ve had enough!” Michael hissed, giving a defiant look towards Patrick.

”Perhaps you should take your boyfriend to a shrink, I came to offer my help and he started threatening me with a knife!” Patrick huffed. ”It’s no wonder I guess, if that kind of past makes him crazy. Be careful Jean, soon he will threaten you as well!”

”You shit! Perverse, lying shit!” Michael shouted enraged. Patrick shook his head.

”That boy is mad!” He said. ”I’m leaving now, see you later Jean. Try to control that lunatic.”

”Patrick?” Jean called as the man walked past him to the hall. Jean glanced at Michael, frowned and then followed his friend who was getting his goat on. ”I don’t understand what happened?”

”I told you! Michael is crazy, believe me! I’ll call you later, Jean.” Patrick growled and left. Jean shook his head, not knowing whom to believe. He returned into the kitchen where Michael continued preparing dinner, silent.

”Chéri, what on earth was that?”

”Patrick’s been harassing me for a long period of time, I haven’t dared to tell you sooner.” Michael said and gave him a timid look, he was afraid that Jean wouldn’t believe him.

”Perhaps you’re only imagining it? I know you don’t like Patrick, but the least you could do is to try.” Jean snorted tensely.

”I am not imagining it, Jean! Patrick thinks of me as a whore and it’s only a matter of time that he gets it in his head to go further than just groping. I’m afraid of that!” Michael had turned to face him, feeling tears in his eyes. Jean gritted his teeth, not ready to believe that his best friend would do something like that behind his back. Patrick knew he was jealous of Michael and that he didn’t want to share him with anyone. Patrick would respect that! But why would Michael lie? Because he didn’t like Patrick? He had said so at the beginning, ”Believe me Jean, please.” Michael asked, approached him carefully and lowered his hand on Jean’s arm.

”My head hurts,” he growled and stepped away. ”I’ll go for a walk to clear my thoughts.” He added and left Michael alone.

**^^**^^**^^

Patrick sat on the couch; he drank beer and was about to watch some porn when the doorbell rang. He let out a displeased growl and set the bottle on the table before going to open.

”Jean,” he sighed with surprise observing his tense looking friend. ”Come on in.”

”We have to talk,” Jean responded harshly. Patrick closed the door after him and gave Jean a questioning look. ”I want the truth, have you touched Michael?” Patrick sighed heavily.

”Let’s go into the living room, would you like a beer?” He asked and Jean nodded, following his friend. Patrick urged him to take a seat and went to get a bottle from the kitchen pondering about his answer.

”Alright, I’m embarrassed to admit, but a couple of times yes, I have touched him.” Patrick said when he sat down and the anger could be read from Jean’s face. ”But only because he has flirted with me! Teased and… Dammit, I’m sorry Jean, but he’s fucking hot and I’m only a man and… At times I didn’t think, I just acted… Nothing major has happened and I promise it won’t. I think Michael is just desperate to get your attention and perhaps exaggerated things.” Jean gritted his teeth, took a sip from the bottle, his agitation grew and for a moment Patrick was worried that Jean might take it out on him after all. ”I could show you something,” he said then. ”Perhaps it changes your view on Michael’s innocence.” Patrick took the remote and pressed play.

**^^**^^**^^**

Michael waited nervously, the dinner was ready but he couldn’t eat. Jean hadn’t answered his calls. Time went by, Michael paced back and forth in the apartment. He looked at the time and tried to call Jean again. He was afraid that something had happened, if Jean had gotten into an accident? Or was he just so mad at him? Michael wasn’t sure, but he was afraid.

It was after ten in the evening when he finally heard the front door opening and Michael walked into the hall, relieved. Jean glared at him and Michael smelled the alcohol on his breath, he swallowed when the unpleasant feeling set in the bottom of his stomach.

”Where were you? I was worried, so I tried to call and…”

”I noticed.” Jean growled and took off his jacket with an odd look on his face. ”I was with Patrick,” He replied and tilted his head, walking closer with slow steps and Michael saw it best to back away. Jean gave a drunken laugh, until his face turned serious and dark. ”You little whore!” He roared and hit him on the face. Michael cried out, bringing his hand on his face looking at the man in shock. ”You flirt and you whore, act innocent, but now I know! I know what a fucking whore you are!” Jean hit him again and shook him, before pushing him onto the floor.

Michael looked at him still in disbelief, holding his sore cheek. ”Calm down! What is wrong with you Jean?!” He cried. Jean looked at him with scorn and spat on the floor in front of him.

”I saw those tapes, Patrick showed them to me! Fuck! I saw it with my own eyes and I saw how you enjoyed it, you lying slut! You flirt with my friend as well, god only knows what you do on those ’walks’ of yours!”

”I haven’t been flirting, I have been true to you! And I don’t remember everything about the past!” Michael got up trembling. He cried and backed away. ”I don’t remember what I’ve done! We smoked weed and sometimes he drugged me! I didn’t want it, I never wanted that life!”

”I’ll show you!” Jean spat and started to open his belt, trying to grasp him. Michael kicked Jean’s leg and rushed to the bedroom, locking the door after him. Jean cursed, banged the door with his fists and pulled the handle. ”Let me in you whore! Open this goddamn door!” The man raged. Michael brought his hand on his mouth in shock, backed away from the door and finally sat in the far corner of the room. He trembled even more, rocking himself back and forth. Finally he covered his ears and closed his eyes, he didn’t want to hear Jean’s hurtful and ugly insults. He had never seen Jean like this and was afraid that somehow he would break into the room and hurt him more.

Finally it got quiet but Michael stayed still for several hours. His face ached; he wiped his tears and listened. Finally he got up and walked to the bed. He lay down and stared at the door without being able to sleep. He didn’t know how he could walk out that door and face Jean.

When Jean woke the next morning, his head was aching, his mouth had a foul taste. He brought his hand on his forehead, tried to reach the shattered pieces of his memory. Finally he rose to sit slowly, he sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked towards the closed bedroom door and cursed to himself. Jean remembered dimly his own rage, what Patrick had showed him, alcohol had made it worse. Jean regretted, Michael hadn’t lied and he should know that. Still, something had just snapped inside him, something that at times was difficult, almost impossible to control. Jean knew alcohol was a big reason; at times he tried to cut down his drinking and sometimes succeeded until again he resolved to drink.

He got up and walked slowly towards the bedroom. He gave a tender knock, silence.

”Michael,” Jean called with as soft a tone as could manage. ”Chéri, I was horrible last night, I feel dreadful, can you forgive me?” Jean listened, and heard a small creak from the bed. ”Michael, my love, please… I promise I won’t hurt you. Can you please open the door?” He asked. Slow steps.

”Y-you promise?” Trembling voice asked and Jean sighed with regret.

”I promise, I swear. I was roaring drunk last night, now I’m paying the price.” He heard the lock click open and Michael peaked at him through the small crack. The younger man was clearly afraid of him. Jean stepped in and looked at the bruise on Michael’s face with shock. ”Oh god, forgive me, forgive me Michael,” he repeated, touching his face softly and finally hugged him. ”Those videos, I flipped, I can’t stand the thought of you with others, it’s insane…”

Michael nodded insecurely; he didn’t know what to think. ”Jean, I’m afraid of you when you drink… What if next time…” He started.

”I won’t drink spirits anymore,” Jean promised. ”Don’t worry chéri, this won’t happen ever again.” He swore, stroking his hair. Michael would have wanted to suggest that Jean would stop drinking completely at least for some time, but he was afraid to anger him again.

”And Patrick?” Michael asked carefully.

”I’ll talk to him, it’s all been a misunderstanding. You just got off with a wrong foot, it will work out.” Jean kissed Michael’s forehead. ”Come, let’s take a shower together…” Michael sighed and allowed the man to lead him to the bathroom. He could only hope that what had happened wouldn’t happen again. Deep down however, he knew that Jean would hit him again, something like this rarely happened only once, no matter the promises. Compared to Ricky, Jean however was almost like a saint and so Michael forgave, he gave him another chance.

Chapter 19

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