25. New Silent

Chapter 25

”You’ve been avoiding me.” Sam said following Michael at the restaurant as he worked.

”Sam, not now please, I’m in a hurry…” Michael said without looking at him as he turned around the counter to pour drinks to the customers who had ordered them.

”All right, then I’ll sit here and wait until your shift ends,” the blond man nodded stubbornly and sat down. Michael sighed and looked at his friend, he guessed what Sam wanted to talk about and had deliberately avoided him for that reason. He feared the encounter, his own feelings, and that Sam would not stand the truth.

”I’ll get home at seven, you have to wait quite a long time,” Michael said as he settled the drinks onto the tray to take them to his customers.

”A couple of hours, I can handle it,” Sam nodded, and Michael sighed in frustration as he walked past the man. Samuel followed the younger man with his gaze and waited until he returned behind the counter.

”I could have a beer,” he said, and Michael nodded as he poured the drink for him.

”Do you want anything else?”

”I want to know why you’re so distant all of a sudden?” Sam asked. Michael lowered the drink in front of him and Sam dug out his wallet to pay. For a moment they looked into each other’s eyes. ”We need to talk, and you know it,” Sam said, handing out the money and Michael funded him in silence, handing back the change.

”All right,” he finally agreed. ”But not now, as you can see, the restaurant is crammed full.”

”I’ll wait, like I said. I’ll take you to dinner when your shift ends.”

”We can go for a walk,” Michael replied. ”Now, I have to go serve my other customers.”

Sam waited patiently; he was afraid Michael would come up with an excuse to avoid the meeting if he didn’t wait at the restaurant. Eventually, Michael’s shift ended, and they left the restaurant together.

”You know what I want to talk to you about,” Sam said as they got out.

”Sam, please…” Michael started nervously.

”No, no more excuses! You’re not happy with Jean, and don’t try to claim otherwise. You deserve better, you know that! And you must have noticed by now, how… ”

”Don’t say that.” Michael pleaded, looking away, they were still standing on the corner of the restaurant.

”Why? Why shouldn’t I tell you how enamoured I am with you? Why shouldn’t I say that I think you have feelings for me too and that I think we could stop pretending otherwise.” Sam lowered his hand to Michael’s cheek. ”Look at me, please,” he urged, and brown eyes glistening in tears met his own. ”Jean doesn’t make you happy, why are you with him?”

”You wouldn’t understand the truth Sam, you wouldn’t talk like this if you knew…”

”If I knew what?” Michael felt his heart pounding.

”I’m not who you think I am,” Michael whispered. ”You couldn’t understand,” and just as Sam was protesting, they heard Jean’s voice.

”Michael?” The man called and, as he approached, he glared at Samuel, who seemed to be standing way too close to his lover. Michael smiled at the man, though his smile was somewhat strained and at the same time he was stubbornly avoiding Sam’s gaze. Jean reached beside him, kissed his lips, and then wrapped his arm around Michael’s shoulders. ”I wanted to surprise you by coming to meet you, but I guess I came a little late?”

”Sam just came in for a pint, we talked for a moment.” Michael explained and still tried his best to smile. Jean sensed that something more had happened between them and felt a bitter stab of jealousy.

”I see,” Jean nodded and looked at Samuel, who looked back sternly. Jean recognized the challenge behind his gaze. ”Well, chéri, we should be on our way. I booked a table for us, I want to take you to dinner,” he smiled at his lover, who nodded softly. ”Bye Sam!”

”Bye,” Sam replied, glancing at Michael, who glanced back briefly before leaving, tugged closely in Jean’s possessive embrace. Sam cursed silently to himself, just as they had gotten into the matter, that cancer of a man, Jean, had to come to interrupt. The man seemed to watch Michael’s every move much too closely for it to be healthy.

”What were you and Samuel talking about?” Jean asked as they were having dinner at the man’s favorite restaurant. Michael shrugged and grabbed a piece of meat with his fork.

”Nothing special,” he replied.

”Well, it certainly looked like something special,” Jean said, gazing at him with jealously. ”I don’t like how close you two are, I don’t want you to meet with him alone anymore.”

”Jean,” Michael sighed. ”He is my friend!”

”He clearly wants to be something more to you!” Jean growled and Michael gritted his teeth not knowing how to respond. ”Believe it or not, he’s not a true friend. He wouldn’t want to see you anymore if he knew what you were.”

”Maybe you’re wrong,” Michael replied quietly, staring down at his plate. He now regretted not getting the truth told to Sam. ”I’m not,” Jean denied. ”He should be told, then you’ll see.”

”I will tell him,” Michael replied. ”When I’m ready, I will tell him in my own way.”

”When?” Jean asked sternly and the younger man shrugged in frustration.

”I do not know! This is not easy for me, Jean! ”

”And it’s not easy for me to see how you flirt with each other,” Jean growled. ”I meant what I said, I don’t want you to spend time alone with him, I don’t trust that man.”

Michael looked at the man in silence. ”Then trust me?” He asked and Jean gritted his teeth.

”With your history? – It’s a little difficult, chéri.” He finally snorted and a tense atmosphere settled between them for the rest of the evening.

******

”Samuel, a man is asking you,” Adeline, his co-worker, announced as Samuel was writing down his previous client’s new workout program. He looked at the woman questioningly and couldn’t help but feel a small spark of hope that the man in question would be Michael.

”What does he want?” Sam asked and the woman shrugged.

”I don’t know, he just said he wants to talk to you. Maybe a new customer?” The woman wondered and Sam nodded, got up, and followed his co-worker into the lobby. He was surprised to see Jean, but believed he knew what the man wanted to talk about, there was nothing else he could have to say to him.

” Jean,” Sam forced a smile. The man, who was currently reading the ads on the bulletin board, turned to him and responded with a nod, while an arrogant smile rose to his lips.

”Samuel,” he greeted. ”Maybe I should join as a member and start exercising?” A grin followed his words.

”Is that why you came? Of course, I can design a program for you if you want. ” Sam tried to be as polite as he could, to a man he never thought he could grow to like.

”Ah, this may not be the most comfortable environment for my taste,” Jean replied and Sam couldn’t help but to snort. ”I guess you know what I came to talk to you about?”

”I think I do,” Samuel replied cautiously and Jean smiled.

”Maybe we could talk about it over a cup of coffee?”

”All right,” Samuel sighed. ”Wait a moment,” he asked, going to let others know he was taking his coffee break. ”We can go to the cafeteria, but I only have fifteen minutes.”

”That’s enough,” Jean nodded and followed the blond man to the cafe.

”It’s on the house,” Sam informed the man, taking a cup of tea for himself, while Jean poured himself a cup of black coffee.

”Thank you… This is kind of a sensitive subject,” Jean warned, and Sam led him to the most remote corner table. They sat down and Sam watched the man, who held the cup between his hands. ”It’s about Michael, as you might have guessed,” Jean began, and Sam cocked his brow, waiting for the man to continue. ”I’m worried about him, worried that he may be back to his former habits.”

”What do you mean?” Sam asked and Jean looked at him before sighing.

”I’m quite sure he hasn’t told you.”

”Told me what?”

”The way we met,” Jean explained. ”Or what he did in New York.”

”I understood he was working as a waiter like now…” Sam replied even though he had already guessed something more to the story, considering how Michael had spoken and of his behavior.

”He’s so very young still,” Jean began. ”Most of us make mistakes at a young age, it’s easy to get lost in our path. Michael’s past is difficult, I don’t think you understand. Lately, as I said, I’ve started to worry if Michael has strayed again. He has behaved so strangely.” Sam gritted his teeth and hoped that the man would soon get to the point.

”I’m afraid he’s started to use drugs again.” Jean finally said and Sam frowned, giving the man a disbelieving look. ”I understand that it may be hard to believe, but Michael actually used drugs before, he was using when we met. You probably don’t know how he financed it either?” Jean asked. He consciously exaggerated the truth, with only one goal in mind; kill Samuel’s interest and desire to meet Michael again. When Sam didn’t answer, still just looking shocked and in disbelief, Jean continued. ”He sold himself,” Jean whispered. ”Michael was a prostitute, that’s how I met him. I was weak and I fell in love, I wanted to help him and I did and so Michael is here now.” Sam stared at him quietly until he laughed perplexedly.

”You’re not serious,” he said. ”Listen, that’s …”

”I’m telling the truth, hard to believe, but doesn’t this explain why Michael is so mysterious with his past? I hesitated to tell you, but… Like I said, I’m worried. Have you noticed any signs that Michael could use any substances? ”

”God, no!”

”Yeah… Maybe he wouldn’t show you that side. I’m just afraid that maybe he’s also started selling himself again to get money… This is hard for me. I have really tried to be good to him, I have done so much for him… Maybe if I were richer… Maybe then I could make him happier?” Sam didn’t get a word out of his mouth, he stared at the man quietly, wondering if he was just telling sick lies. The Michael he knew was so… good, sweet, clean… And now Jean gave a picture of something completely different. ” I can see you don’t believe me, but how well can you claim to know Michael? He’s shown you a different side than what I know.” Jean tilted his head. ”He’s running for a better life, I don’t know… I’m afraid I’m not enough to keep him satisfied anymore.”

Could Michael know about his wealth? Sam wondered with confusion. But if he knew, and if what Jean said was true, wouldn’t Michael then take advantage of his admiration? However, Michael had asked him to keep quiet about it. ”It doesn’t make sense,” Sam said at last. ”It must be a lie, Michael doesn’t…”

”Then ask him directly, ask if he’s been a whore before,” Jean urged in a cold tone and the last word whispered in Sam’s ear. ”I’m not lying, I came to tell the truth. I know, it’s so easy to fall for him, to fall in love with him, I’m in that trap myself, and I can’t get out anymore. I’m afraid my heart will be broken, don’t let yourself go the same way. If you want more evidence and Michael wants to keep lying, then… There are videos… I don’t like to talk about them or… ” Jean gritted his teeth, shook his head and lifted his cup to his lips. ”Well, for your own good… If you want, get in touch…” Jean slid his business card across the table to Sam before emptying his cup and getting up. ”You were in a hurry, and I have to go now too. Believe me, this was not easy for me to tell. Goodbye Samuel. ”

Sam looked at the man, staring at the business card, still confused at what to think. There was no way that what he had just heard was true, right? He had to talk to Michael, wanting him to refute the absurd claims of his spouse. ”Can we meet today? I heard a rumor I want to talk to you about.” Sam sent a message to Michael, who replied after a few hours.

”My shift ends at six, can we meet on the banks of the Seine at half past seven, in our usual place? I have something to tell you as well. ”

*****

Sam sat on a bench by the river, staring at the people on the opposite side with a focused look on his face. Michael hesitantly stepped closer.

”Hey,” he greeted, and the blond man turned his face to him, nodded, and smiled somewhat meekly, which made Michael immediately guess that it was something serious.

”Would you sit down?” Sam asked and Michael nodded while sitting next to him. Sam examined his face thoughtfully. ”I’d like you to tell me more about what you did in New York.” He finally said. ”I heard something today that I can’t believe is true.” Michael swallowed and looked down at his hands. ” Tell me it’s not true that… you sold yourself? That…” Sam frowned; Michael suddenly looked pale.

”I can’t,” Michael whispered. ”I’d like to say it’s not true, but I can’t… because it is.” Sam looked at him in shock for a moment before turning his gaze. ”I wanted to tell, but… it’s so hard.”

”Why?” Sam asked in a hoarse voice. ”I mean, why did you do that?” Michael was silent for a moment and looked at the other man with sadness.

”There were no options,” he replied.

”There are always options!” Sam snapped and looked at him tightly. ”Did you also use drugs? Are you still using?”

Michael tilted his head. ”Who told you about my past?” He asked.

”Jean,” Sam snorted. ”Your dear boyfriend was worried and decided to come talk to me. He said you funded the drugs by selling sex and that he was worried about a relapse. So, have you started using drugs again? ”

Michael gritted his teeth, looking away, feeling the anger spread in his veins. Yes, Jean was jealous, but had he really sunk so low that he had lied and twisted the truth in such an uncomfortable way? He snorted and shook his head. ”Then Jean has failed to tell the most important part.” He answered and looked at Samuel. ”Not everyone has access to alternatives, Sam. Maybe I had a choice at the very beginning and I chose wrong. I didn’t know where I put myself when I ran away from home with him. I was only 17-years-old, and I was fucking scared. Yes, I’ve slept with numerous men, most of whom I don’t even remember and yes, the money changed hands, but I didn’t even see one penny of that money at first. Yes, I used drugs, mostly marijuana, just because that reality was too harsh to endure. And yes, in the end, with my boyfriend at the time, who was in the same situation as I, we tried to raise money to escape by secretly selling ourselves and taking the money ourselves. Jean is the only customer from whom I got cash in my own hands. Jean brought me here, I wouldn’t have been able to leave alone and that past binds me to him. ” Michael breathed excitedly and looked at Sam’s shocked expression. ”I’m not the kind of person you might have thought, but everything I’ve been in front of you though, is real me. However, I understand that the reality you now know will inevitably change your perception of me. ”

Sam was quiet, it was hard to internalize the whole thing, it felt so absurd! He hadn’t really expected anything like that. ”I also understand if you don’t want to see me anymore. I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you before, my intention wasn’t to cheat. For a moment, it was just so nice to imagine, being able to be normal and belong in your world, yours and Kitty’s, your friends, to be like anyone else. Thank you for that.” When Sam was still unable to say a word, Michael smiled sadly and got up; he had guessed this, the truth was too much. ”I have to go, maybe we’ll run into each other again someday? Goodbye Sam.”

Sam gazed after the younger man, wanting to call him back, but the words clung to his throat. He had never expected anything like this and took time to digest such shocking news.

Michael returned home and felt aversion as he entered the hallway. Jean couldn’t have hurt him more deeply and he was really getting tired of their relationship, his own life and the direction it was going, he wanted to be able to feel free. Jean sat on the couch, with a glass of wine in his hand, watching some silly quiz show.

”Where were you this late?” Jean asked, glancing at him.

”I saw Samuel,” Michael replied, standing in the doorway of the room. He watched as the man’s lips curved into almost a gleeful smile.

”Well?”

”I guess you’re very happy with yourself?” Michael asked in a steady tone.

”It was time for him to hear the truth, because you delayed telling it yourself, I just decided to speed up the process.”

”By distorting the truth?” Michael asked. ”Telling him that I’m still using drugs and making it sound like I chose that destiny myself?” He tilted his head. ”I can’t stand this Jean; I can’t stand how you treat me or how you talk about me. You promised different.”

Jean gritted his teeth, emptied his glass, and laid it on the table. ”Then you shouldn’t have flirted with that man!” He hissed and got up. He approached Michael menacingly and grabbed his shirt collar as he tried to retreat, he struck Michael against the wall. ”Don’t forget who saved you and how! I could throw you down as fast as I lifted you. ” Michael’s eyes filled with tears. ”If Samuel really cared about you, he wouldn’t let my story have any affect, would he? But where is he now? Did he still swear his friendship, or did he let you go? ” Jean grabbed his face and squeezed, causing Michael to whimper. ”Do you know how much you owe me?”

”Is that our relationship?” Michael asked, breathing excitedly, tears in his eyes. ”Measured in debt?” He pushed the man further away, causing him to falter a little. ”I can’t take this anymore! I can’t, Jean! ” Jean frowned, staring at him intently, surprised by Michael’s reaction. Soon, however, the surprise turned to anger and caused the man to hit the younger man’s cheek with his open palm.

”Silent!” He roared. ”I demand your respect, you are ungrateful!” Jean turned and walked to his bar cupboard to pour another drink. ”Believe it or not, everything I do is for the best. You will see, Samuel won’t return to your life. ” The man was already speaking in a calmer voice as Michael held his sore cheek. ”We belong together chéri, I saved you and that’s why you belong to me. And no one else can love you like I do, they don’t understand, but I do ”

Michael stared at Jean quietly. This life was not what he wanted, but maybe Jean was right? Maybe this was as good as it got. He was sure he had lost Sam. No one so normal could ever understand.

***

Sam sat in his kitchen, confusion sweeping through him. There was a cup of tea in front of him and he stared down at the content, desperately trying to understand what he had heard. Whore? His mind repeated, it didn’t sound right. How many men? He began to feel a little ill thinking about it. His mood shifted between varying degrees of confusion. His fascination now seemed so very silly and yet… Michael… He couldn’t banish him from his mind. Michael did not reflect at all to the picture he had of prostitutes.

He felt pity, sadness, and anger, it all mingled in his mind. He did not know what to do, what he should do, but did not believe for a moment that he could face Michael, for what would he say to him? Were his feelings genuine? Did the fascination still exist? Michael wasn’t what he had thought he was. It seemed an impossible idea to form a relationship with a former prostitute. In an odd way, Sam felt cheated. He simply did not know what to think about the whole thing.

”Well, did you talk to Michael?” Kitty asked the next evening as they sat in the pub after work. Sam smiled.

”Yes, I talked with him alright.” Sam sighed, staring at the glass in front of him. ”And oh boy, what a bomb I heard!”

”Well?” Kitty asked curiously. ”Tell me?” Sam faced his friend’s gaze, smiling darkly.

”Michael has… in his past… sold himself.”

”What?” Kitty asked in disbelief.

”Yeah, you heard… sex for money…” Sam spoke in a low voice and lifted the glass to his lips when he finished. ”He said the situation was desperate,” Jean told another story, saying Michael had also used drugs. Isn’t that just an exemplary young man to introduce to your parents, ” Sam’s tone was filled with gloom. Kitty stared at him in disbelieve, trying to internalize the whole thing.

”It sounds absurd, Michael is so… sweet ,” Kitty said. ”There must be something more to it, Sam.” When the blond man didn’t answer, just stared darkly at his glass, Kitty sighed. ”Have you talked to him since?”

”No, what would I say?” Sam shrugged. ”After all, this does change everything, right?”

”The way you feel for him?”

”Yes and no … think about it, he has sold his body for money and also used drugs. What could such a relationship become? ”

”You should talk to him; I think there’s a good explanation for everything. I can’t imagine that Michael wanted that kind of life… ”

Sam was silent again, shrugging. ”Yes, well, he said Jean was the only one who paid directly to him, that he was trying to raise money to escape with his boyfriend at the time.” Sam frowned. ”He ran away from home at the age of seventeen and…”

”And got used by someone,” Kitty said quietly. Their gazes met, both sad. ”Sam, you can’t turn your back now, I feel like that boy needs help.” The story was much harsher than Kitty could have ever imagined, but the grief behind Michael’s gaze was now explained. ”So, he ran away from home. Do you think his parents could still be looking for him?”

Sam shrugged a little helplessly, he had thought he knew Michael, but now he realized how little he really knew. Had his feelings really changed, though? He thought about the young man and his gentle face, brown eyes and that smile… Sam felt a pounding in his heart, he wanted to hear the truth, the whole truth. ”Michael is now 21, his birthday is in June and when he was seventeen, the year has been 97 or 98, right?” Sam frowned and looked at Kitty.

”Maybe I could try to look up old magazine articles in Plymounth from those years to see if they mention disappearance.” Sam pondered and Kitty smiled.

”I can help you; I actually know a website that lists missing people, we could try it first.” Kitty began to get excited about the idea of playing undercover detective and possibly reunite Michael with his family. He wanted to help the young man and strongly believed after hearing that Michael needed decent friends alongside him. Michael should ditch Jean, Kitty didn’t like the man either. If their relationship had really started from a situation where Michael had desperately sold himself to the man… Well, it was already saying something.

”Okay, let’s go,” Sam emptied his pint and got up. Now that the idea was born, he knew he wouldn’t get peace until he would solve it. He would think about the end later.

TBC.

chapter26

A/N: Please review or vote it helps to motivate me ❤ You can comment bellow.

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