Newly single in his late twenties, and looking for more fun than he gets from his boring job, Daniel Cross soon discovers the lure of social media. After a few hiccups, he’s excited at the chance of tracking down his old mates from the Scorching Summer Sports Club of 1990. He lost touch with his “Gang of Four” after that summer, but now he launches a personal quest to find out what kind of man each boy has become.
It starts well with a link to the first boy’s current address, through a mutual friend on Facebook, until Dan realises he’s been chatting online to the wrong man—Nick Carson isn’t an old school friend at all. It’s a genuine mistake, and Nick isn’t offended. He offers to accompany Dan on the trip to find the others. It’s the first step to friendship and something more for both of them.
For Dan, the reunions with the “Gang of Four” range from startling, heartening and disturbing. Nick’s company is a constant support, though neither of them are prepared for the exposure of personal secrets they’d thought were long-hidden. Dan begins to suspect that he’s really looking for a direction in his own life—and the excitement and purpose he craves may be closer to home than a quest with its roots in a boyhood dream.
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (24k words)
...I glanced at my watch. “My lift’s arriving at eleven.”
“That’s another thing. Why aren’t you getting a taxi?” She looked worried again. “Driving off with some stranger, it’s odd. And potentially dangerous. You know, I could drive you wherever you want to go.”
God forbid. “It’s not a stranger, it’s another kid who was in the summer club. Well, he’s an adult now of course. I found him online and we’ve chatted a few times already. He’s got a current address for one of the people I’m looking for.”
“One of your Gang of Four?” Alice caught my look of surprise and smirked. “You talked a lot about them that year. I was always sorry you didn’t get to go back to the club…” Her voice trailed off and she looked suddenly sad.
“I’m fine.” I gave her a quick hug. “And looking forward to getting started on my quest.” The doorbell rang. Glancing at my watch again, I saw he was early.
“Shall I let him in?” Alice asked, already sidling toward the hallway.
I darted past her with a glower, and opened the front door myself with a ready smile. Then paused. My smile remained in place but it wasn’t quite as ready.
The man on the doorstep nodded slowly. “I’m not the person you expected, am I?”
I gaped. “I’m…well…no.”
He smiled ruefully. “Look, it’s okay. I thought so. I think you got me mixed up with my brother, Nathan.”
“Nathan Carson?” I was still gaping, like an impression of a hungry goldfish.
“Yes. I’m Nick Carson, Nathan’s older brother.” He peered at me. “You were looking for anyone who knew the Scorching Summer Sports Club? Who went there in the summer of 1990? I didn’t, but my brother Nate did.”
Things were starting to make horrible sense. “I friended you on Facebook!”
He nodded again.
“By mistake?” My voice came out in a squeak.
He shrugged. “It happens. Same initial. You know how it is.” He looked as if he doubted I did. There was high colour in his cheeks. It was actually very attractive. “I replied because I did know the club. And Nate’s not on Facebook, you see. But when you went into details about wanting to find your friends, I thought it was time to come along and…uh…meet you. Let you know the mistake. A face to face explanation felt better to me than just shooting you down online.”
“Um…thanks,” I said, feeling like the greatest idiot that had ever lived. I sneaked a better glance at the man on the doorstep. He didn’t look much like Nathan, even if I only had my memory to extrapolate what Nathan would look like now, at sixteen plus some twelve years. My visitor—Nick Carson—was taller than me by a couple of inches and leaner. His hair was short and he was clean-shaven. Clothes were smart/casual¬—a polo shirt, fitted jeans and Converse Hi-Tops. I’d wanted a pair of them myself a couple of years ago, but one of my exes who wore nothing but Hollister persuaded me they weren’t for old farts like me. Yes, and that was one of the reasons why he was an ex, but the caution had persisted.
I glanced back up and caught Nick’s gaze on me. His dark hair looked thick and natural, and his smile was striking. For a brief second, I saw the resemblance in that smile to my old football mate. But during that summer I spent at the SSSC with Nathan and all the other kids, I didn’t remember ever thinking Nathan was my type, even if he hadn’t been straight. Whereas Nick...