The Boys of Belsmeade was my the first story I completed for the Wednesday Briefs flash fiction group. It was posted on my blog in 1000-word installments for several months. I’ll be editing the story and posting it here as a free read. Please keep in mind that an editor has not seen it, so a few goofs are possible.
I’ve broken the story up into nine installments of four chapters. Enjoy!
There were two schools in town. Belsmeade Academy, established in 1810, was a very selective preparatory school for the privileged male offspring of the upper tiers of society. Its manicured grounds covered fifty acres of the north side of Clackelton, New Hampshire. The academy resembled a luxury resort, including horse stables, professionally-equipped sports facilities, and an ice rink.
Seven miles from Belsmeade’s lush lair of learning was Clackelton Consolidated High School, established in 1948, quaintly situated between the local chain supermarket and a small bookstore. The school building was a post-modern, concrete eyesore and was aging badly. The floor of the gymnasium was so warped that the basketball team had re-located to the YMCA three blocks down. The sports fields were four miles away behind the equally unimpressive Junior High School.
Students who attended the public school were called “Clacks”. Students from the private school were “Meades”, although most Clacks referred to them as “Assmeades”. The boys at Clackelton hated the boys of Belsmeade for two reasons: first, their money and privilege; second, the fact that every girl at Clackelton lusted after those boys behind the gilded gates.
I was a Clack. Every morning, as my bus passed by the Belsmeade campus, I sighed with longing. I wanted to tell the bus driver to stop and let me out. To experience life at the academy even for a day was a dream I had often. The monotonous, unending ordinariness of high school bored me to tears. I did well in class, and had a decent group of friends, but I wanted more.
I watched the Meades crisscrossing the immaculate lawns in their blue blazers and khakis. Some of the guys were carrying lacrosse sticks. Clackelton didn’t offer “exclusive” sports like that. Not that I was into team sports anyway. I’d played singles’ tennis as a junior because it fulfilled the stupid requirement that each student play at least one sport at some point during their four years of high school. Badminton was an option too, but I wasn’t a complete tool.
This year I had spent obsessing over my parents’ divorce. My mother had abruptly left just before Christmas, explaining to my father that she had fallen in love with a radiologist at the local hospital where dad worked as a cardiologist. She’d written a farewell note to me, but I threw it in the trash, unopened.
Now I was leaving in the fall and dad wouldn’t have anyone to look after him. Not that he was a half-wit who couldn’t boil water. He was an extremely intelligent, an excellent chef and had even figured out how to do laundry. I simply couldn’t help feeling like I was abandoning him, just like mom had done.
As the bus passed Belsmeade, I replayed the morning’s conversation. Dad laughed, as usual, and told me that the house wasn’t going to burn down the moment I left for college, and that he was not an old fart and would probably begin dating again soon. The thought of dad bringing a date home and potentially having sex in the next room made me shiver. Time to stop thinking along those lines and get ready for another day in purgatory.
If there was one thing I hated more than that annoying nickname, it was the person yelling it across the hall. I turned to find Frank Hitch bearing down on me and steeled myself for the impact. The soccer goalie threw an arm around me and laughed. “Listen. I really need some help with my French homework, Burnsie. Can I come over—”
“It’s Berenz,” I growled, “and the answer is no. You are not using my house for a kegger.”
Frank feigned shock and stumbled. “You cut me deep! Do you automatically assume that I would use you that way?”
“Um… yes? When have you not? When in the ten years that we’ve known each other, have you not used our acquaintance to your own ends? Look, I don’t have time for this, okay? I have a meeting—”
“I guess I’ll just fail French.” Frank moaned dramatically.
It was one of those mornings. I had a meeting with the French teacher and didn’t want to be late. She had been looking into an Italian language course for me to take that semester at one of the local colleges and had emailed the previous day to say she’d found something.
“Bon jour, Eliot,” Madame Perins said, as I entered her classroom. After routing through an enormous stack of papers, she pulled out a single type written sheet and handed it to me. “What do you think of this?”
I stared wide-eyed at the blue and gold crest on the top of the page. It was the Belsmeade Academy crest. The letter was addressed to Madame Perins:
Thank you for your communications regarding your student, Eliot Berenz. His academic record is certainly impressive. I have spoken with Dean Havers and he has agreed to consider Mr. Berenz for enrollment in my Italian class this semester. As space is limited, please have Mr. Berenz return the application as soon as possible.
Without giving me a chance to speak, she said, “Fill it out and take it over tomorrow. The class is during this period with me, so you’d be all set. You could go there for class and come back here for lunch.”
I lay the letter on the desk and shook my head. “That would be so out of my league!”
The teacher raised an eyebrow. “That’s ridiculous. Take the chance Eliot. You can do this.”
Could I do it? Did I dare to go where no Clack had gone before?
Parked across the street from the Belsmeade gate, I shook with anticipation. Did I really want to do this? Did I really want to breach those gates and take on such an enormous challenge? Before I could change my mind, I put the car in gear and turned into the maple-lined drive.
“Holy shit,” I mumbled as I made my way slowly toward this new horizon. A glimpse around made me thankful of my father’s offer for me to take the BMW that morning. My own car, a fairly new Volvo was also really nice, but I thought it was great that dad was so excited and wanted me—in his words—to look like a Meade.
I parked the car and climbed out, taking my portfolio. Not wanting to look like a complete idiot, I had checked the school map to figure out where I was going. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but gawk at my surroundings. Everything was so old and massive. And intimidating. I felt the sweat bead on my forehead and subtly wiped it away.
“Can I help you?”
The voice came from behind me, and I turned to find a group of four students heading in my direction. They were all in gym shorts and sweat-soaked shirts, and my forehead was suddenly the last thing on my mind. The tallest of the boys had a halo of artfully-messy, blond hair and the facial features of a Roman god. Sculpted pecs strained against the damp cotton shirt.
I stared until I realized the god was speaking to me. “Are you looking for someone?” he asked.
“What? Oh sorry. Yes.”
After I didn’t offer any other information, he grinned. “Good. Now that we’ve established that you are indeed looking for someone, I’ll have to ask the person’s name.”
Mentally slapping myself, I replied, “Mr. Rampura?”
“Oh sure. I can show you over there. Hey guys, I’ll meet you at lunch.” They all nodded their assent and walked on ahead. My guide thrust out a hand and said, “Aramis.”
“Pardon?” I asked.
“It’s my name: Aramis Ambrogi.”
“Wow. That’s quite… Italian.”
The boy smirked. “Really old family name. And you are?”
“Right. I’m idiot, and I swear I’m not usually such an Eliot. Wait. That wasn’t—”
The blond god laughed heartily put his hands up to stop my worrying. “So, what brings you here, Eliot? Are you transferring?”
“No. I’m… a Clack,” I said with a shrug.
Aramis bowed mockingly. “And I’m an Assmeade.”
I stumbled and stuttered. “I never—I mean, I don’t call—”
“No sweat. But we’re not all complete assholes, you know.” His smirk made my blood boil. Then he continued, “Are you friends with Mr. Rampura?”
“Actually,” Eliot began, “I’m applying for the semester to study Italian here.”
Aramis jerked his head back. “Really? Without transferring completely?”
“I guess the teacher talked to the dean about me and they said I could apply.”
“Wow. Wonders never cease. Here’s McMahan Hall. Mr. Rampura’s office is the first door on the left. Good luck, Eliot. I hope I see you around soon.”
I watched Aramis’ retreating backside for a little longer than I should have, and then turned to face the powers that be.
Aramis Ambrogi sat in his European History class thinking about the dark-haired, light-eyed boy that had rocked his world earlier that morning. When he’d seen Eliot—Damn! He didn’t get a last name!—walking across the parking lot, Aramis had literally tripped over his own two feet.
His friends laughed and his dormmate Robbie said, “Uh oh. I think someone’s gaydar just sighted booty ahead. Oh yeah, booty! Boo-tay!” He planted his feet and attempted twerking, and the rest of the group cracked up.
“Will you shut up?” Aramis hissed. He studied the newcomer and could only hope that the face would match the body. The boy was shorter than what Aramis usually went for, but his fingers itched to feel that perfectly-rounded, tight ass.
“Go ahead,” Robbie said with a sigh.
“No. You guys come too.”
Matt raised his eyebrows. “That’s kinky Air, but I don’t really do the whole threesome thing. Especially when one third of the equation doesn’t have two holes.”
Aramis came to a sudden stop and glared at Matt. “First of all, I don’t ever want to even think of doing that with you. Second, I don’t do… that.”
“Say it,” Matt dared. “And not the clinical term either.”
With a grumble, Aramis muttered, “Pussy.”
His friends all howled with laughter and Robbie took out his phone to text someone. It was always amusing to them: Aramis’ aversion to the female anatomy. He rolled his eyes and snapped, “Get over here and back me up.”
“Whatever, Air,” Robbie said. “We’ll be good.”
They hurried up behind the boy and Aramis called out, “Can I help you?”
Eliot was adorably tongue-tied, and his eyes drifted down Aramis’ body before slowly settling on his face. Oh yes, Aramis thought. This could happen. Once he got a name out of the boy and found out he was looking for the Italian instructor, he got rid of his friends and started toward the language building—the long way around. He needed time to get to know Eliot.
“So, what brings you here? Are you transferring?”
“No. I’m… a Clack,” he said with a shrug.
Aramis had to focus so he didn’t trip again. Damn. The cute, boy-next-door face made the whole package absolutely perfect, but a Clack? It just wasn’t done. Some of the Meade guys had hooked up with girls from town, but no one had ever dated one of them. What to do? Play the joker.
He recovered his composure and bowed slightly. “And I’m an Assmeade.”
Eliot looked aghast at Aramis. “I never—I mean, I don’t call—”
It was irresistible, teasing the newcomer. The innocence and lack of pretense was refreshing. And there was an attraction there. Interesting. After dropping Eliot off at the McMahan Hall, Aramis hurried to his dorm to consult the Book of the Covens.
Robbie yelped in surprise when the door of their room open flew open. He hastily pulled on his shorts and glared at his roommate. “Dude! Good thing I wasn’t jacking off or anything.”
Aramis ignored him and threw the deadbolt on the door. “I need the book,” he whispered.
“The book?” Robbie asked in surprise. “Why? Air, you’re scaring me.”
“I need to check a law,” he replied. Hauling a large wooden box out from under his bed, he fiddled with the padlock. “I need to see how to do this.”
Robbie huffed. “You are making zero sense. What law?”
Within the box, on a bed of blue silk was a large volume, bound in dark calfskin. Aramis lifted it out and gingerly laid it on his desk. Carefully handling the thin paper, he scanned the colorful pages until he found what he was looking for. Robbie looked over his shoulder and gasped.
Laws of Secrecy of the Covens
Immortui must not reveal their existence within the human population. Any intentional breach of this law will result in destruction of responsible Immortui.
Immortui may apply to the council for permission to bring a Human into the Covens. There must be sufficient cause for the exception to the Laws of Secrecy, and the Human must appear before the council prior to their entry into any Clan or Coven Assembly. The decision of the Council is final.
“What the…” Robbie breathed. “Wait. Is this about that guy you just met?”
Aramis nodded. “Yes. His name is Eliot.”
“Is he transferring? It shouldn’t be too much of a problem to get the council’s okay if he’s transferring here.”
“He isn’t,” Aramis said flatly. “He’s a Clack.”
“A Clack?” Robbie shouted.
Aramis slapped his hand over Robbie’s mouth. “Shh! He’s going to be taking Rampura’s Italian class this semester. I can’t describe it. There’s something about him, Robbie. It was different this time.”
He recalled the burst of adrenalin that rocketed through his body as soon as he touched Eliot’s hand. Heat stirred in his groin and his fangs descended. There was definitely something different about this boy.
Robbie sighed and reached into a small cabinet. He removed a glass bottle. Aramis took the offered bottle and twisted the cap off. He grimaced when he took the first sip. Synthetic blood just didn’t have the same texture of the real thing.
His roommate selected a drink for himself and took a long draw on the bottle. “I wish you luck, dude. You do realize if the council says no, Eliot won’t be allowed within school grounds anymore. He’d be kicked out of Rampura’s class.”
Aramis groaned. “Oh shit. I hadn’t thought about that. Maybe I’ll ask my dad before approaching the council. What do you think?”
“Well, Air, I think you’ve lost your fucking mind.”
I heard the next day that my application had been approved by the headmaster and I was to start Mr. Rampura’s class on the following week. They sent me to a tailor in Boston who fitted me with a Belsmeade blazer and it suddenly became very real. I would have to wear my khakis and dress shirt to high school every day, because I didn’t have enough time after my chemistry class to change before driving over to Belsmeade for Italian. What would the kids in school say? It was odd. I’d never really gotten any shit for being gay. There were a couple other gay guys there, and two lesbian girls, but we’d never been bothered that much. It that respect, we were very lucky.
But my becoming a part-time Assmeade? That was probably going to be a problem.
On Monday, I walked into school with my crisp, white shirt. I left the top button unbuttoned and rolled the sleeves partway up my forearms. The jacket and tie I left in my car. The moment I walked through the doors, my friend Travis wolf-whistled and laughed.
“Look at you,” he called across the hall. “Headed off to the Ivy Leagues.”
“Very funny,” I shot back. “Could you say it a little louder please?”
Travis smiled and came over to walk with me. “Nah. Seriously man, I’m glad they let you in. You’ll do great.”
“I’m so fucking nervous,” I said quietly. “Not only of the Meades, but of what everyone here’s gonna say.”
“Eh, fuck the lot of ’em.”
“Easy for you to say.”
“Yes it is.”
“Why am I friends with you again?”
“Because the sex wasn’t that good?”
I choked and sputtered and looked around to make sure no one had overheard Travis’ remark. “Can you not say things like that?”
He stopped and looked at me. “Well, it wasn’t. I mean the blow jo—”
“Travis!” I yelled. “I’m gonna belt you if you don’t shut up.”
“Gotta get to class anyway. Cheerio, love!”
I rolled my eyes and chuckled. Travis really was a good friend. A little flamboyant, but loyal and trustworthy. And he was definitely right about one thing: we were friends because we’d hooked up one night. And it. Was. Terrible. We ended up laughing our asses off and figured out that we were much better off as friends without benefits. Since then we’d supported each other through coming out to our parents and friends, broken relationships, dealing with homophobia and everything else that came our way.
Heading toward chemistry, I passed by a group of basketball players. One of them was particularly nasty, not only to me, but to everyone. For the first time in the four years I’d known him, Jeff Peters decided to notice me.
“So you’re an Assmeade now?” he snarled.
“I didn’t know it was news,” I replied with a shrug.
Jeff wasn’t giving up so easily. “Sorry. I meant a Fagsmeade.”
That got my attention, as well as the attention of everyone else around. I took a deep breath before I replied. “You haven’t had a problem with me being gay for four years. Now that I’m taking a class at Belsmeade, you decide it’s suddenly made me too gay? You’re a fucking douche.”
The huge jock took a step toward me, but the principal walked around the corner.
“What’s going on here?”
“Nothing at all,” Jeff said. He pushed past me and I sighed. This was just what I did not need right now.
I drove slowly through the Belsmeade student parking lot. The last thing I needed was to rear-end someone’s Jaguar or Porsche. Once I found a spot, I grabbed my bag, opened the car door and then shut it again in a panic.
What was I afraid of? Why was this so hard?
“It’s not hard, you wimp,” I mumbled to myself. One last look in the mirror before I opened the door again and took a step into the unknown. Nervously, I straightened my tie. Hopefully, I’d fit in. I’d look like one of them.
As I made my way across the campus, the chapel bell rang and suddenly “them” were everywhere. All around me, doors opened and a flood of students poured into the quad. My messenger bag was fairly light, but it felt like a ten ton weight, dragging me down as I walked. My legs felt rubbery as I neared a group of Meades in front of the chapel.
“Oh God,” I muttered when they stopped chatting and turned toward me.
In the middle of the group was a boy with hair of such a vibrant shade of red that I nearly laughed. I had never seen hair that red outside a Viking museum. Apparently, I couldn’t keep the smirk completely off my face, since the boy’s eyes narrowed and he closed the distance between us in three long strides.
“You need something, Clack?” he demanded with a sneer.
I shook my head and walked quickly away. Raucous laughter followed me like the plague. Then I heard the term “fag” and I slowly came to a stop. Normally, I wouldn’t care what the kids thought of my sexuality, but twice in one day? First Jeff Peters at my school started at me for being gay. Now at Belsmeade, it was happening again. I thought it would be better here, that everyone would be more matured and refined. What was I thinking? My life would suck wherever I went.
I turned to go back to my car and ran head-long into a tall, amazingly ripped body.
“Hey, Eliot!” Aramis laughed. He threw an arm around my shoulders and swung me back around. “Classroom’s this way, bud.”
“But—” I muttered as he was manhandled toward McMahan Hall. I huffed. “Aramis! Let go. I’m getting the hell outta here. This was a complete mistake.”
I was near tears and sniffed to keep the drops at bay. Aramis let his arm drop and studied my face with concern. “What’s wrong? You just got here.”
“Yeah. And in the two minutes I’ve been here, I’ve been bullied by that red-headed dick over there and called a fag. Thanks, but no thanks.”
“He did what?” Aramis spun around and eyed the red-head. “Wait here,” he told me. He walked quickly up to the jerk and had a heated, but short, discussion with him. Aramis poked the other boy hard in the chest and the boy nodded. With a self-satisfied smile, Aramis came back to me and said, “I wouldn’t worry about him anymore.”
I wasn’t ready to let my guard down so quickly. “Why?” I asked nervously.
He shrugged. “I caught him cheating on a test last year and it’s fun to let him think I may give the teacher the evidence at some point. He’s an asshole to everyone. He outed me in my freshman year to whole school, thinking it would be some big scandal. Turns out they already knew and Blake was pissed at the lack of a flipping fuck that was given about my sexuality. It was kind of funny really.”
I fidgeted with the strap of my bag. “So… People here don’t have a problem with us?”
“Us, huh? You sail under the rainbow flag too?”
“Yup. I’ve been out for a while. My family’s always known.”
Aramis plugged for more info. “Boyfriend?”
“Me? Nah. There are a few other gay guys at school, but none that interest me sexually. They’re just good friends. Are there many gays here?”
Aramis shrugged. “A handful here and there. But once you live so close for four years, the selection gets stale. I went with one guy for about six months, but the sex was horrible.”
“You’ve had sex?” I blurted out incredulously. Immediately after, I wished a hole in the earth would swallow me up. I scoffed and said out loud, “Way to go, El. Can I die now?”
Aramis came to a dead stop and grabbed my arm. “Please never say that Eliot. Don’t talk about dying.”
“Sorry,” I replied, tugging out of his grasp. Why had he overreacted so much. “Geez. I was only kidding.”
He seemed to realize his mistake and laughed nervously. “Sorry. It’s no big deal about the virgin thing. In fact, I’d consider it an honor to make love to a virgin.”
I turned to face him. There was a predatory look in Aramis’ eyes and there was no mistaking what it meant. He was interested, and he knew I was too. He took a step closer and an indescribably delicious scent wafted around me. He wasn’t touching me, but I felt like his arms had cocooned me in a tight embrace. My brain felt like a bag of cotton balls and I had a hard time remembering where I was or what I was supposed to be doing.
“Eliot?” Aramis asked, snapping me out of my fog. “Eliot, you’d better go in or you’ll be late.”
“Hm?” I shook my head to clear it and realized I was in front of the languages building. Reluctantly, I looked away from Aramis and said, “I’d better go before I’m late.”
He laughed quietly. “Wanna grab some coffee after class?”
“Uh… okay.” I replied. “Meet you here?”
“Right here.” Aramis nodded happily and ran off toward the admin building. I exhaled slowly and opened the door to my first class at Belsmeade Academy.
Blake Becker watched the Clack walk into the language building and growled. That little shit had somehow captured Ambrogi’s interest, but why? He was human and a townie. What the hell would cause Aramis to confront Blake in front of Blake’s clan like that? Just threatening him with the cheating crap is one thing; directly challenging him was quite another. He should’ve just told the fucker off, but in his anger, Blake had accepted the challenge. Ambrogi was bigger and stronger than him, too, so there was little chance he’d win. His humiliation would be doubly painful. He was in trouble and the Clack was the cause.
No doubt about it: the human had to be dealt with.