Let’s Read The World

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Sixteen-year-old Shane has finally settled into life in the country, with university ambitions, a steady relationship, and a grudging tolerance for dance that is entirely the fault of his boyfriend, Luke.<br><br>Then Shane’s father gets his marching orders, and Shane’s time in this new life is put on a countdown. At sixteen, Shane could legally leave but has nowhere to go. And leaving the first real home he’s had in nearly twelve years doesn’t feel any better whether it’s for the wilds of Cornwall or the local housing association.<br><br>But in order to stay, Shane is going to have to tell his very conservative, very military family his biggest secrets ... all three of them.
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Chapter 1

Luke Devereux was like a magnet, and Shane’s eyes were paperclips.

Or something. So Shane was no good at English, shut the fuck up. Missing the point. The point was that the minute Shane left the maths block, his eyes were drawn to Luke bloody Devereux, like he’d known he was there.

“Stop gawking, perv,” Sophie said, smacking him on the back of the shoulder. “Move! I want chocolate.”

Shane obediently headed for the canteen, tearing his eyes away from Luke and that brilliantly blond hair. He was laughing at something someone had told him, and the way he smiled made Shane’s stomach clench.

“Pervert,” Sophie said again, like she could read his thoughts, and Shane casually drew back a fist and punched her in the shoulder. “Ow! Abusive pervert! You can’t hit girls.”

“You’re not a girl, you’re a toerag,” Shane said, holding the canteen door for her. It was almost empty, and Sophie swung her bag heavily into his stomach before dumping it on her favourite table. “See?” Shane grunted. “Bitch.”

“Shut your face, Kershaw,” she sniped, rummaging in her bag for her purse. “And give me money.”

“At least you’ve stopped pretending it’s a loan,” Shane grumbled, but rummaged in his pocket for spare change anyway. She closed her fist around the money the moment he produced it, and bounded away to the vending machine. Shane rolled his eyes at her back, and dropped into the nearest chair.

“Is she taking advantage?”

Whereas Sophie Moore was more like a boy than a girl—except for the knockout boobs and the ponytail—Rebecca Walsh was a soft voice, soft curls, and a soft hug as she squeezed Shane from behind, that flaming red hair tickling his scalp.

“Hey, Bex,” he said, squeezing her arm. “She’s stealing my money.”

“You do hand it over,” Rebecca admonished, sliding into the seat next to him. Rebecca was a tiny girl, a skinny wraith topped with lively hair and tempered by a gentle smile. She’d been the first to attach herself to Shane when he’d moved to Wheatley, and had been the first to know about his secrets. “How was your day?”

“Eh,” Shane shrugged. He always felt a bit clumsy and uncouth next to gentle Rebecca, but she never seemed to mind. “So-so. Yours?”

She opened her mouth—but the canteen door clanged, and Shane twisted his head to look. The magnet had arrived. Luke Devereux, a tall and broad-shouldered seventeen-year-old, had caught Shane’s attention the minute they’d met. He was graceful, sharp, and ridiculously good-looking. Every time those quick blue eyes landed on Shane—even for a second—it was like the heat coming off a branding iron. Pleasant, but less than an inch from dangerous.

If Rebecca made Shane feel rough around the edges, Luke made Shane feel completely and utterly inadequate.

But Shane’s brain and Shane’s face did not often communicate, so his, “Hey man,” and raised hand to clap Luke’s was the epitome of casual.

“Hey,” Luke said, and his fingers slid away. “Soph, come on!” he called across the cavernous, linoleum-tiled room. “The bus is in ten, and I want to get home!”

“So go, Mr. My-Bus-Is-Way-More-Important-Than-Chocolate!” she shouted back, still messing with the coins.

Luke huffed, and perched on the edge of the table, not even bothering to remove his backpack. His black trousers stretched tight for a moment around his upper thigh, and Shane’s gaze momentarily flicked down before he blinked and reached for his bag. Rebecca’s arms squeezed a little tighter around his shoulders, but he ignored her and retrieved his apple, biting into it almost savagely

But his face apparently betrayed nothing, for Luke simply said, “Jesus, Shane, you skip lunch or what?”

Shane shrugged in Rebecca’s hold. “Had to finish my chemistry project.”

“What’d you fuck up?” Sophie asked, returning with her chocolate. Generously, she broke off a tiny piece and offered it to Shane. He waved it off, so Luke gleefully nicked it.

“I didn’t fuck up shit…”

“Yeah you did.”

“Did not.”

She stuck her tongue out.

“I’ll kiss you,” Shane threatened, and she put it away.

“As if,” Rebecca said in that soft tone, and let go. “We do have to go. Or Ido. Dad wants me home early.”

“You slags go early,” Sophie said easily. “I’m gonna walk.” Sophie only lived on the edge of the town, and—”Catch me some boys in Tesco.”—had a crush on the security guard in Tesco. Which was a bit disgusting, in Shane’s opinion. The guy was, like, forty.

“Like you can talk. Whore,” Luke challenged, and leaped away from her savage punch. Shane rolled his eyes and let Rebecca pull him up out of his chair. If she wanted to slide her fingers into his on the walk through the reception area and towards the bus stop, then she could. She had tiny hands, warm and dry, and there was a silent understanding between them. She was the first person that he’d ever told. In turn, he was the first boy she’d ever trusted.