“Rosie, oh Rosie, oh light of my life,” James called as he entered the office at chambers. He paid little attention to where he was going, closing his eyes as he whistled a melodic tune, leaning down and holding onto her shoulders as he kissed her on top of the head, the same way he did most mornings.
But it was unlike most mornings for when he opened his eyes, he realised it wasn’t her, it wasn’t dear sweet Rosie at all he had kissed. Instead of the young secretary he was used to, he saw the surprised face of a young man looking up at him, sitting where Rosie usually sat at her typewriter ready for the day’s work.
“Heaven’s above, you’re not Rosie!” James spluttered, his face reddening at his error.
He glanced over the young man who although not a pretty woman like Rosie, was in fact a very pretty man with similar fair hair, colouring and large inviting lips. The young man’s pale eyes were twinkling or at least James thought they were. It was hard to tell whether it was that or whether the poor man was startled.
“I do apologise for kissing you. I thought you were Rosie. I’m James Eliot, I work here, I didn’t just wander in off the street fancying my chances.”
“No problem,” the young man said softly, “An easy mistake to make when I’m sitting in her chair.” He got to his feet and put out his hand for James to shake. “I’m Sam Boswell but friends call me Bosie.”
“Boswell. You’re not Rosie’s secret husband, are you?”
Bosie laughed. “No, twins actually.”
“Twins named Rosie and Bosie? You must’ve been treated well at school?”
“Yes, well, they’re nicknames as children that sort of stuck. I’m filling in for her this week whilst she’s on holiday.”
“Ah yes, that’s right, she’s off sunning herself while we’re here slaving away with the world of justice.” He grinned, resting his hands on his hips. “Well, if you need anything be sure to give me a knock. That room just there, next to the old dragon’s. Just kidding, Harriet’s a kitten really. Oh, don’t tell her I called her either of those things. Not sure which would offend her more.”
“What would offend me, James?” Harriet said from the doorway, her voice strong but teasing, her arms folded, her eyebrow raised as though a teacher telling off a cheeky schoolboy. “I hope you’re not leading young Sam astray.”
James feigned offence. “Heaven forfend I should take this young chap under my wing and shape him into a fine man.”
“Yes, well I know what you’re like James. I know how you are at…taking people under your wing.”
James tapped the young man on the shoulder. “Don’t listen to her, Bosie, don’t listen to her. I mean it, knock on my door anytime.”
He smiled again at Bosie, slipped past Harriet and headed out of the door where she followed him into the hallway. As he walked away, Bosie took a quick glance at him and sighed dreamily.
Outside the room in whispered voices, Harriet nudged her colleague. “He’s only been here an hour, James.”
James held his hand over his heart. “I swear I shall be a good boy.”
“Just make sure you are. This Samuel or Bosie may not be looking for his Oscar Wilde.”
“You’ve been doing this job too long, Harriet, you’re suspicious of everyone.”
Her eyebrow rose again and her lips pursed. “Hmm.”
She turned away and went back inside the office where Bosie was now sat waiting for her to return.
“He’s one to watch out for,” she told him with a knowing look. “He’s a lovely man but bit of a rascal. Luckily we all know how to handle our James.”
“My sister sings his praises and I’m starting to see why.”
Harriet folded her arms and pouted again. “Hmm.”
That afternoon by the lake in the park, Bosie sat on one of the benches, nibbling on a sandwich. The sun was beating down upon him and he sat back contentedly with his eyes closed, feeling the warm rays caress his tired eyelids. Suddenly he heard a familiar whistle and his eyes sprung open to see the handsome face of James Eliot looking down at him.
“Harriet scared you away or was it Bill talking about his conservatory plans?”
Quickly wiping his mouth of crumbs, Bosie smiled. “No, just getting some air. Would you like to sit and join me?”
“How can I refuse such a polite invitation as that?”
He sat down, unsure whether it was too close. However he also wanted to be close enough to get a better look and adjusted his trousers as he sat, crossing his legs and turning them in toward Bosie who in turn moved his legs in his direction.
“Glorious day isn’t it?” Had James really started the discussion by mentioning the weather?
“It really is.”
“Your first day at the firm and the best weather so far this year. You’ll spend most of it cooped up at your desk no doubt.”
“I don’t mind.”
There was a brief pause of awkwardness. Bosie took the opportunity to take a glance over James. He was certainly as Rosie had described— tall, dark and handsome with an enticing smile.
“So, James, did you always want to be a barrister?”
James leaned back against the bench, feeling comfortable in his presence. “I suppose I did in some sense. It was a road I found myself on, a path that felt right at the time. But I’m also writing a book. Well I will be once I start actually writing any of it down.”
Bosie leaned forward on the bench and looked at him. “I’m a writer too.” He unwrapped the silver foil in his hands and offered James one of the sandwiches that was inside.
With a grin, James motioned with a flourish of his hand that he couldn’t accept the offer. “Take lunch away from a hungry hard-working man, I daren’t!”
“No, please, no bother, it’s only cheese and tomato.”
“You’ve twisted my arm then. Haven’t eaten since last night.”
As James took the sandwich, their fingers touched and James noticed how soft Bosie’s hands were, how delicate— how lovely the smell of the moisturiser he used on them.
“So anyway, Bosie, a writer you say. What kind of stuff do you do?”
“Crime thrillers mostly. Working at a law office certainly comes in handy for that.”
“I’m afraid Harriet and I offer little in the way of exciting cases recently. Although Harriet in the mornings can be a bit of a horror story.”
“You two get on well?”
“We really do.”
Bosie shuffled closer to James. “I find it all quite interesting. Maybe one day I could sort of take notes, shadow you, watch you in action. If that would be alright, say no otherwise, but it’d help my planned novel immensely.”
“Happy to help,” James replied, mouth full of sandwich. “You could…come over tonight if you want, pick my brain a little if you like?”
“Your…wife?” He paused, looked at James’ fingers and noticed there was no wedding ring. “Your…girlfriend wouldn’t mind?”
“She might if I had one. I’m quite on my own so we won’t be interrupted. I’ll get some wine if you like.”
“Yes, that sounds fun.”
“Ah just don’t tell your sister. I’ve never asked her over to my house for wine.”
Dressed in a smart shirt with the top three buttons undone and some casual flared trousers, James uncorked the bottle of wine and placed a record on the player. The sound of romantic soul music filled the room and he found himself moving from side to side, gyrating his hips to the beat.
He looked into the mirror as he did so. “Still got it, James.”
He was stopped in his tracks by the sound of the doorbell. He shimmied to the door, pressed the intercom button and said ‘Is that you Bosie?’
Even his voice was the purest thing he’d ever heard.
“Come on up.” He pressed the button and with a buzzing noise, James could then hear the sound of a door opening and then the footsteps on the stairs and finally onto the landing.
“I’ve brought some chocolates,” Bosie said, walking through the door. “Sorry, I’m useless at thinking of what to bring as a guest.”
“Yourself was good enough but who can say no to chocolate? Come on in, make yourself comfortable. Wine?”
Bosie slipped off his thin suede jacket and laid it neatly on the arm of the sofa. He sat down and looked around curiously at James famous bachelor pad. He admired the paintings on James’ wall. There was something rather tranquil about the way he decorated.
James poured out the wine. “This old flat? It’s alright. You should see the house I’m doing up though. Now that’s what I call a place.”
He handed him the drink to which Bosie drank nervously, coyly running his fingers over the rim of the glass.
“You live nearby?” James asked, sitting down beside him, again not too close to imply anything but not too far away it would seem he wasn’t interested.
“I have a flat across the park.”
Suddenly there was the sound of the smoke alarm blaring and James sprung to his feet. “Oh, blast it, the oven, the dinner, I’ve burnt it!”
Bosie followed him to the kitchen, watching as James attempted to remove the baking tray from the oven, forgetting to put on a pair of oven gloves. Smoke billowed furiously from the oven area forcing them both to cough.
“James, you’ve forgotten the…”
“Oh, bugger it,” James cried, gasping at the heat of the tray and the smoke around him, throwing the whole thing onto the floor— a blackened mess of charred meat and potatoes. He sighed, still clutching his burnt hand. “I cooked a nice bit of chicken as well.”
Bosie opened the window, pulled out a kitchen chair for James, took his arm gently and sat him down. “Is this the best time to tell you I’m a vegetarian?”
“You’re not? You don’t look like one.”
Bosie laughed. “What does a vegetarian look like?”
“Not like you. You sure?”
“Yes. You’re hurt. We need to run your hand under the tap.” He pulled him up again and led him to the sink.
“My pride is hurt more than my hand.”
“Just let me rinse it,” Bosie said, gently taking his hand and turning on the tap where he bathed it for a few minutes.
James closed his eyes, not sure which was more soothing, the running water or Bosie’s sensual touch.
“I could rub some lotion on you too if you want,” Bosie said and then paused, looking away, embarrassed by his choice of words. “I mean, for the hand, for the burn, the injury.”
They looked at one another, their noses almost touching, and then burst into laughter.
“I’ve ruined our date,” James said before realising what he had said. Was it a date? He had absolutely no idea whether he had misread the signals. His whole job was to find out the truth of a situation and yet he couldn’t even be sure if Bosie felt the same connection he did, that instant spark of electricity since the moment he’d accidentally kissed him at the office.
“You haven’t ruined it. There’s something remarkably charming about the famous successful James Eliot burning the dinner, dropping it on the floor, scalding himself. It makes you feel more real, not the brilliant barrister, the charming success that Rosie described but a normal bloke.”
“Please, I have a reputation to uphold,” he replied whilst laughing.
“Can we sit together on the sofa again?”
“We can. In fact, probably for the best. I’ll clear up this mess later.”
Lights low, music still playing, wine glasses now empty, James and Bosie sat close together on the sofa, silent, gazing, wondering, anticipating, full of nervous excitement. James’ hand found Bosie’s and he stroked each finger at a time, carefully caressing it the way Bosie had done when he’d tended to his burn.
James ran his other hand up Bosie’s leg and grinned. Bosie didn’t take his hand away.
And then as soon as it had started, the door swung open and Harriet Peterson turned on the light. The first sight that greeted her was James and Bosie locked in a passionate embrace, arms around each other, lips locked.
“Well, don’t mind me,” she said, not knowing where to look.
James sprung to his feet yet again. “Harriet, what on earth are you doing here?”
“I let myself in with the spare key. I couldn’t get an answer at the door.”
“Well did it occur to you I wasn’t in?”
“No. We arranged a meeting for tonight. Clearly one of us forgot.” She raised an eyebrow and then smiled at Bosie. “Good evening Samuel.”
“Hello Miss. Peterson.” Bosie guiltily wiped his mouth and shuffled uncomfortably.
James approached her. “Harriet, I’m so sorry, it completely slipped my mind for some reason.”
“Oh, I know the reason, James. And it’s quite alright. I’m sorry to intrude. Next time you’ve only got to let me know.” Sensing the tension in the room, she headed to the door. “Well, I’ll leave you two alone. Goodbye Sam. Bye James.”
He followed her down the stairs. “Wait, Harriet?”
“You know I love you.”
“Yes, you do and you don’t have to worry, I have no intention of telling Rosie about this development.”
“Why would it bother Rosie?”
“Oh James, oh dear, you really are clueless.”
“Well, thank you anyway for understanding about forgetting the meeting.” James turned away and walked up the stairs.
“You’re welcome. I’m an incredibly nice person, oh and James?”
“I’m glad you’re taking young Samuel under your wing after all?” She smirked. “And one more question?”
“Anything your honour?”
“Why is there a burnt chicken on your kitchen floor?”
Whistling a merry tune, James arrived at work the next morning in high spirits. He spied Bosie at the typewriter, typing away eagerly, and placed a gentle kiss on his cheek.
“Bosie, oh Bosie, oh love of my life.”
“Love?” Bosie spun around on his chair, stopping his typing immediately and grinning widely, his teeth meeting his bottom lip.
“Did I say that out loud? I deny it. Objection your honour! He has no proof I uttered those words.”
He bent down and kissed him on the cheek again.
“James, we’re at work,” Bosie said giggling, shooing him away as he spied Bill coming around the corner.
James mimed zipping up his lips. “Mum’s the word. Your place tonight? I’ll leave the chicken at home.”
“I’ll give you the address later, and the lotion,” he whispered, blushing as Bill came into the room and sat down.
James resumed his whistling as he looked over some documents on the desk.
“Why are you in such a cheery mood this morning? You’ve got mountains of work to get through,” Bill informed him.
Looking quickly at the handsome face of Bosie, James smiled. “The sun is shining, Bill, birds are singing, love is in the air and life is good.”