With or Without Him

With or Without Him by Barbara Elsborg

Book: With or Without Him by Barbara Elsborg Read Free Book Online
Authors: Barbara Elsborg
in his throat. He’d only been making conversation, but he should have never opened that particular door.
    “Who made you clean your plate?”
    “People who weren’t my parents.”
    “Who then?”
    “Not my mum and dad.” Don’t push me.
    Haris sighed. “Can’t we talk about you?”
    Tyler leaned forward and kept his voice low. “You’re buying my body, not my fucking personal life.”
    “I’ve touched a nerve. I’m sorry.” Haris didn’t take his gaze off him. “I don’t want you to do anything or tell me anything that makes you uncomfortable. I just…I thought… I wanted to get to know you.”
    And for some unaccountable reason, Tyler now wanted to talk to him, to tell him some of it at least, to make him see why he was the way he was, prickly and awkward and fucked up. If he was going to live with Haris for four months, he had to open up a little. “My parents died when I was seven.”
    “Oh God. I’m sorry. That must have been hard.”
    “Yeah, well, I went into care, lived with a lot of other fucked up little kids, and we fucked up each other even more.”
    “You weren’t fostered or put up for adoption?”
    “I was fostered a few times but it never lasted long.”
    “Why not?”
    Tyler swallowed hard. He had to be careful not to let everything spill into the light. “I didn’t want it to. Couples picked me because I looked cuter than the other boys, but it didn’t take long before they saw what was under the surface and sent me back. They wanted a boy who didn’t wet the bed, did as he was told, spoke to them politely, ate what he was given and didn’t puke it up for the dog.”
    “I hope you don’t still wet the bed.”
    Tyler gaped at him and then laughed. “Yeah, I do but not like that.”
    Haris’s lips curled in a bright smile, and Tyler thought how beautiful he was with his brilliant green eyes, silky dark hair and sharp cheekbones. Exotic. Not English?
    “Where do you come from?” Tyler asked.
    “London.”
    “Originally?”
    “The Middle East, Saudi Arabia, but I’ve spent more time in the UK than I have in the country of my birth.”
    “Is your name really Evans?”
    “My mother’s maiden name. Easier for Brits to handle.”
    “Are your parents still alive?” Tyler asked.
    “My mother died when I was eighteen. As far as I know, my father’s still living.”
    Ah right. You have issues too.
    “Brothers and sisters?” Haris asked.
    Tyler shook his head and thought about the final time he’d seen his brother, Noel, and his sister, Claire. He couldn’t remember what they looked like now and that hurt. “How about you?”
    “Two brothers. Still living, last I knew.”
    Last he knew? Had Haris turned his back on his family or was it the other way round?
    “Not my choice,” Haris said quietly, reading his mind. “I didn’t fit in with what was required of me.”
    “That might be the only thing we have in common.”
    Haris huffed. “I think we have more in common than that.” He topped up Tyler’s champagne. “How did you develop an interest in music?”
    “My mother. She played the piano and I begged her to teach me. She started when I was four. Called me her little Mozart. After she died, I had no piano to play on so I made one.” He swallowed as he recalled what he’d done. “I peeled away a long strip of wallpaper below where my bed sat against the wall, thinking no one would notice. I weighed it down and drew the keys exactly the right size and when I ran my fingers over the paper, I could play in my head. I kept my paper piano rolled up and hidden but eventually the bed was moved and I got found out. That was the end of that foster home. ‘Destructive tendencies’ was written on my notes. I’m an expert at reading upside down. I never read anything good.”
    Their food arrived and his stomach rumbled.
    “That was very inventive,” Haris said. “When did you get to play the real thing again?”
    “Once I started high school. I asked the

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