Troy barely glanced up from his English paper as he called back downstairs to his grandmother. “Up here.”
“I need your help in the workroom.”
Troy snorted. Workroom. Yeah. Right. “I’m doing my homework. Can it wait until tomorrow?”
The reply came in the form of his grandmother appearing at his door. “Homework, tonight of all nights. Come on downstairs and you’ll learn far more useful things than they’ll ever teach you in school.”
Troy sighed and put away his homework. In the six months since he’d come to live with his grandmother he’d learned to go along with her suggestions.
Once in the workroom Troy hopped up onto a stool. The pot on the table top burner was bubbling and giving off some rather noxious fumes. Looking around the room, he could see why the locals thought his grandmother was a witch. She did rather give that impression.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked when he realised he’d been sitting there for nearly five minutes without being given anything to chop, grind or stir.
“Just sit and daydream for the moment,” his grandmother replied airily.
“I could have done that upstairs.”
“I need you down here for it to work.”
“For what to work?” Troy felt a small quiver of unease.
“The spell to get the man of your dreams to cross your path before All Hallows Eve is over.”
Troy groaned. “You mean a love spell?”
His grandmother gave him an affronted look. “Certainly not. I never dabble in such things. Now start concentrating on a nice young man to sweep you off your feet.”
That was easier said than done. Nice young men were hard to come by, gay men even more so.
As he sat, bored, in the workroom, Troy’s mind began to drift to the earlier in the week. Everyone had been talking about Casey’s Halloween party. Who was going with who and who was wearing what were the hot topics of conversation.
Kirk and his friends were looking at him again. Troy wondered whether word had gotten out about his sexuality. He’d moved to live with his grandmother after trouble at his old school, but it wasn’t that far away and with the internet and social networking it would be all too easy to find out about him.
He grabbed his books for the next lesson and sped down the hall. The safety of the science room was still a good twenty feet away when Kirk caught up with him.
Troy turned to greet him. He could see Kirk’s friends lingering a little further down the corridor, each of them snickering as they watched.
“So, I was wondering if you were going to Casey’s party.” Kirk said. “Last year’s was a right blast.”
“I don’t think so,” Troy replied with an offhand shrug. He’d not really made any friends since moving to town, not after his previous friends had turned on him so quickly. He barely knew who Casey was and he hadn’t been invited to her party.
“Why not?” Kirk pressed. “You can come with me if you like.”
One of Kirk’s friends looked like he was about to bust a gut from trying not to laugh. Troy supposed it had only been a matter of time before someone found out he was gay and pulled some sort of prank on him.
“Sure, fine,” Troy muttered, having no intention to going to the party and being made the laughing stock of the school.
Kirk grinned at him and returned to his still laughing friends. Troy hoped that would be the end of it.
“Can you go get the door?”
Troy jumped at the sound of his grandmother’s voice. He’d really drifted off in his daydreaming this time.
“The door,” his grandmother repeated. “Your young man’s here to pick you up.”
“I’m not expecting anyone.”
“Of course you are.”
“Oh come on Grandma. You don’t really believe all this bell book and candle shit do you?”
His grandmother smacked the back of his hand lightly with a spoon. “Mind your tongue when you speak of the craft. Now don’t keep him waiting.”
Troy rolled his eyes and dawdled through to the front door. He picked up the candy bowl on the way, expecting trick or treaters.
However, instead of finding a group of pre-teens in costumes, he discovered Kirk – dressed up as a very sexy looking vampire – on his doorstep.
“Am I too early?” Kirk asked as he gestured to Troy’s jeans and t-shirt.
“What are you doing here?” Troy asked, peering round Kirk to see if he could see his friends hovering nearby.
“We have a date, remember?”
“What? You weren’t serious were you?”
“Well, yes. Rumour has it you’re gay.”
Troy could hear his grandmother approaching and he stepped out the front door and pulled it closed behind him. “Look, I don’t know what you and your mates are up to, but leave me out of it. I’m not interested in being ridiculed day in and day out.”
Kirk looked at him in confusion. “This isn’t a joke. Surely you know I’m out?”
“Yeah. Everyone knows.”
“And no one gives you shit about it?”
“My friends tease me a bit, especially this week when I’ve been stalling over asking you out. I thought everyone knew. How is it you haven’t heard the gossip?”
The door opened behind Troy and his eavesdropping grandmother joined them. “Because Troy hasn’t made friends since moving here.”
Troy couldn’t deny it. “Did you do this?” he asked. “Force Kirk to ask me out I mean?”
“No dear, I just gave him a little courage to help get him here. The rest is up to you.”
Troy smiled at Kirk. It seemed he had a Halloween party to get ready for after all.