Alex let himself into the flat, his fingers slick with sweat on his key. Still a little winded from his run, he pulled off his trainers and headed to the bathroom. His path was intercepted by Graham, eyebrow arched. Alex recognised the look. His breath caught in his throat.
“A word,” said Graham, looking down his nose.
“Can’t it wait until I’ve showered,” Alex tried to dodge past but Graham countered.
“Now,” he snapped. “This can’t wait.”
From behind his back he pulled out a pair of top-of-the-range headphones. Alex’s mouth twitched.
“Found these under a cushion on the sofa,” Graham droned. “Which I wouldn’t have done if you’d taken your turn on the cleaning rota.”
“I was going to get around to it. After my run.”
“It’s not about the cleaning. Well, not this time.” Graham brandished the headphones. “Where did these come from?”
Alex’s shoulders twitched out a shrug. “Amazon.”
Graham exhaled in impatience. “I don’t mean where did they come from. I mean how can you afford them?”
Alex pulled a face. “They were on offer –”
“That’s not the point. I’ve noticed some other things too. Those trainers you’ve left so haphazardly on the floor where I might trip over them. They’re new too. This lycra top you’re sweating through. I haven’t seen that before.”
Alex threw up his hands. “What have you been doing, taking inventory of my stuff?”
Tears welled in Graham’s eyes. “You’ve got someone else, haven’t you?” He pressed the headphones against Alex’s damp chest. “A sugar daddy! Buying you treats! But what’s he getting in return, eh? That’s what I want to know! Or rather, I don’t.”
Before Graham could meltdown completely, Alex placed his hands on his boyfriend’s upper arms and forced him to make eye contact.
“There is someone,” he admitted. Graham wailed. “But it’s not like that! Come on, I’ll show you.”
He dragged the sobbing Graham into the bedroom. On the dresser was a laptop – a new model, but Graham hadn’t noticed that – Alex opened it. His fingers danced on the keyboard. A website lit up the screen. “Here!”
Graham squinted at it, not understanding what he was seeing.
“Feet?” he sniffled.
“Yes! Feet! I send in pictures of my tootsies and men send me money or buy me things off my wish list. Imagine! My scrawny plates! But someone’s getting off on them.”
Graham was horrified and fascinated in equal measure. “And that’s all it is? Your feet?”
“Yes. They never see anything else. They don’t even know my real name. And I know nothing about them.”
“How peculiar! You’ve got horrible feet.”
“Not according to the users on this site.”
“All veined and bony. And your toes are too long.”
“All right, all right, I’m not asking you to pay to see them, am I?”
Alex dropped into a crouch and pulled a box from under the bed. “Here. For you.”
“What’s this?” Graham eyed the package with suspicion.
“That console you wanted.” Alex pulled him into an embrace. “I really can start paying my way now. As long as there’s weirdos in the world. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you from the start.”
Graham grimaced. “You stink. Go and get in the shower. And I might join you…”
Alex laughed. “But no free peeks at my money-spinners!”
“Oh, no,” Graham chuckled, chasing Alex into the bathroom. “My mind is on higher things.”