It wasn't until I'd fastened my seat belt in the Business Class cabin of the aircraft at Melbourne Airport that I really believed I was about to have a well-earned, long overdue break.
My job as a music industry lawyer, specialising in contract law and record publishing, was usually pretty straightforward, but for the past several weeks I'd had my nose to the grindstone. I was representing one of Australia's top bands, who'd hired the firm to nut out a settlement with a major American record company, which they believed had ripped them off blind for the past three years.
The American company was notorious for employing heavy-handed and intimidating legal eagles. While there were times when I wondered whether I was just a little out of my depth, I stuck with it and, finally, 10 days ago, they'd caved. They'd seriously underpaid record royalties and knew I had them by the short and curlies. After a series of ping-ponging emails, the case was kept from proceeding to court when they agreed to reimburse more than $230,000 in unpaid royalties.
The band was over the moon. The law firm was thumping me on the back, and talking vaguely about a partnership and, best of all, I was on five percent of the settlement. That meant a cool $12.5K commission on top of my salary.
At 32, I was already earning a huge whack from a firm that only dealt with top level clients, so I'd earmarked this additional bonus for a slap-up holiday, my first in almost two years. Instead of heading to Spain and Portugal, as I'd hoped, I was about to take off in a plane headed for Queensland's Gold Coast. In the past few weeks of legal jousting, I'd barely had time to scratch myself. I had completely overlooked renewing my passport.
Still, Queensland wasn't bad as a fallback. I'd spent many a holiday there soaking up the sun, especially on the Gold Coast and especially in November, having been a "Coolangatta Gold" fanatic for years.
About 30 minutes drive south from Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta is usually a holiday town, but every year it teems with people from all over the world who come to witness one of the premier events in the Australian sport of Ironman or surf lifesaving. The Coolangatta Gold is an Ironman endurance event and involves a 23km surf-ski leg from Surfers Paradise before a return journey north that includes a beach run of 0.65km to Coolangatta, a 3.5km surf swim to Bilinga, a 4km beach run to Currumbin, and a 5.5km board paddle to Burleigh Heads before the final agonising 10km beach run from Burleigh Heads to Surfers Paradise. Believe me, only the strong survive.
Watching these elite athletes push their bodies to the limit is about as thrilling as sport gets for me and no doubt thousands of other spectators. The sight of powerfully built young men, pounding past in skimpy Speedos is about as erotic as sport gets! Each year I'd silently give thanks to the governing body who'd set in place a swimwear policy that decreed, for all open water events where the competitor is required to swim, the swimwear worn by males would be limited to a swimsuit that does not extend above the navel or below the knees.
Because I couldn't leave Melbourne until my legal tussle was finalised meant I'd missed this year's event by a few days, but I was still looking forward to warm sun and breathtaking ocean views from the 5-star penthouse I'd booked right on the beach. I'd stayed there before and always felt at home. My balcony afforded me uninterrupted water views straight ahead, while to my left and right, I could feast my eyes on the near naked bodies of the many tanned Aussie guys who'd stayed on for a holiday after the Coolangatta Gold.
As the plane prepared to take off, I lay back in my seat with a glass of wine, closed my eyes, and pictured a beach full of toned and tanned men; the twitching in my pants only served to remind me that it had been quite a while since I'd been laid. In fact, aside from one or two hurried wanks in the shower before work, I'd not even had time for any quality solo sex. For the next six weeks, I planned to totally relax and take matters into my own hands whenever I damn well pleased!
Whether or not this break would enable me to hook up with someone hot remained to be seen; I was certainly in no hurry for another relationship after the last one ended so nastily eight months earlier. A year into the relationship, I believed Aaron Greenwood and I had something special, but that all changed when I returned home unexpectedly and found him ass up in our bed, being royally fucked by some nasty piece of bar trade.
Since then, whenever I'd thought of Aaron, I'd thought, "what an ass!" Then I'd smiled to myself because, when all was said and done, he certainly had a spectacular ass. My concept of a 'relationship' did not stretch to him sharing that ass with anything he picked up on a beat, so within 24 hours I had him packed and out of my apartment. The pleas for forgiveness fell on deaf ears; two months of constant mobile calls and emails all went unanswered. So here I was, mentally exhausted and horny beyond belief, flying off to the Gold Coast on my own!
I was still going over those events in my mind when one of the flight crew lightly touched my arm; "Mr Stewart, can you move your seat back to the upright position for landing?" I was pleasantly surprised that two hours had passed so quickly. The best part of flying Business Class is getting off the plane quickly and having first dibs at the baggage carousel. I strolled through CoolangattaAirport, aware of the sudden rise in temperature after the chilliness of Melbourne. My bags were through in the first batch and as I loaded my luggage trolley, my eyes scanned the row of limo drivers holding signs with names on them, most of them in Japanese. The second to last sign in the line read "Michael Stewart" and I pushed my trolley over and shook hands with Brian, the middle-aged driver from Grand Apartments, who'd been sent to collect me.
Brian took over and got the limo packed, and within a couple of minutes we were driving off towards the apartment building. As we pulled up, I noticed the familiar and welcome figure of George, the apartment block's long-time doorman, striding towards the car. As we pulled to a stop, he opened my door and said, "Welcome, Mr. Stewart, it's a pleasure to have you back".
I smiled as I stepped out of the car and as I shook hands with George, I repeated what I said every time I arrived: "Good to see you, George. Please call me Mike. Mr. Stewart is my Dad!"
George ushered me through the impressive foyer and straight to reception, where check-in was a prompt process. Key in hand, George accompanied me to the lift for our 30 floor ride. George cleared his throat and said, "On your own, Mr. Stewart?" reminding me that the last time I'd visited had been with Aaron.
"Yes George", I smiled. "It's just me this time".
"That's a shame," he replied. "I liked Mr Greenwood."
I couldn't help but smile. "So did I George," I said, "but he turned out to be a cunt!"
* * *
As George opened the double doors leading into one of two top-floor penthouses, I walked in and instantly felt at home. Ahead of me were breathtaking ocean views and all around me, beautiful décor. Two huge bedrooms, a massive lounge room, a central open kitchen, a whopping marble bathroom, a laundry, and best of all, that enormous balcony with its state-of-the-art barbeque, outdoor furniture, and secluded hot tub.
Although it wasn't part of his duties, George always unpacked my bags for me and I always gave him a generous tip. Before he left, he presented me with a complimentary chilled bottle of fine New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from the management, opened it, and poured me a glass. I stood sipping it on the balcony, taking in the sights for a good hour before grabbing my wallet and heading for the shopping strip around the corner to stock up on supplies.
I hit the butcher, supermarket, deli, farmer's market, bakery, and wine shop, before stopping for my first take away coffee of the day. Then it was back to the Grand Apartments, juggling two arms laden with bags and a piping hot coffee. As I walked through the foyer, my mobile rang and I dropped onto a nearby couch to take a brief call from my office. I put my phone back in my pocket and took a sip of coffee. That's when I first saw him.
Standing in a short queue, texting on a mobile, surrounded by luggage, and a zipped up body board, he was, I think, the most incredibly beautiful male I'd ever seen. Standing about 175cm tall, what I could see of his body outside his shorts and tee shirt was tanned and toned, his arms strong, his legs muscled and well proportioned. If he wasn't already a Coolangatta Gold competitor, he was a future contender. His hair was dark and curly, falling over his forehead and resting just above bright blue sparkling eyes and long eyelashes. His face was flawless, just in the transition period between youth and manhood. When his texting brought a smile to his lips, I noticed perfect dimples and teeth. If you had asked me to paint you a wet dream, he would be it.
For some reason he looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn't figure out why. I knew I was staring, but I couldn't take my eyes off him. I wasn't aware of anything around me until I noticed George, the doorman, hurrying towards me. He started to call out that I was about to spill my coffee, but it was too late; warm milk hit my lap and I jumped up, kicking over two bags of groceries and sending oranges, apples, and limes rolling across the highly polished marble floor.
Only when my hand fell to my soaked groin did I realised that I was almost fully hard. George immediately started picking everything up while I patted my wet crotch with a handkerchief, trying not to notice how many people were looking at me. When I did look up, all I noticed was Board Boy, who was looking straight at me with a cocky grin. Embarrassed, I looked away. Damn.
"Thank you George," I said. "That was so stupid of me".
"Not to worry, Mr. Stewart," he replied, before adding, "things in this place can be distracting sometimes". He smiled knowingly as he handed over my bags of groceries and I thanked him again as I hurried for the lift. As I headed back to my top floor retreat, I slapped the side of my face. "Seriously mate," I said to myself, "what the fuck is wrong with you?"
How had this guy - this kid - managed to reduce me to a clumsy, love-struck fool in little less then three minutes? Christ, my attraction had always been to guys my own age, maybe a little younger. This kid was … what? 16? Seriously, what the fuck? I thought it through and all I could come up with was my lack of sex was making any hot guy that caught my eye look like dinner.
Stripping off my coffee soaked jeans and everything else, I padded naked into the bedroom and grabbed a speedo from my drawer. Slipping it on, I grabbed my unread copy of Deliver Us From Evil by David Baldacci and headed for the balcony, silently wondering whether this thriller would be the only 'thrill' of my holiday. I moved a sun lounge into the best spot for maximum rays, covered it with a towel, and settled in for a good long read.
I got through a third of the book during the afternoon, stopping occasionally to grab something to eat or drink. I could feel the sun had done me some good, although I hoped I hadn't overdone it my first day. I relaxed under a warm shower and, drying myself off with one of the apartment's soft bath sheets, was relieved to see I'd got some color but hadn't burnt.
I threw on some shorts, a tee shirt, and phoned my favourite home-away-from-home Chinese takeout to place an order, before sitting down to watch the early evening news. An hour later, a knock at my door signaled the arrival of dinner. I opened the door to George who walked in and started serving some fine looking Asian cuisine on plates which he then placed on the dining room table looking out over the water. He poured me a glass of wine, graciously accepted a tip, and left.
I sat and enjoyed the meal and the wine while taking in the calming view of a rippling ocean as the Queensland sun began to set. When I was done, I went back to watching television until mid-evening when the urge to soak in warm water became too much of a lure and I fired up the hot tub on the balcony. When it was ready, I slid off my shorts and tee and slipped into the water, feeling every muscle instantly relax as I stretched out beneath the bubbles. The more tranquil I began to feel, the more I put any thoughts of work and career from my mind. Instead of focusing on nothing in particular, I found my thoughts wandering to the boy with the body board. Damn. Why was he still on my mind? Sure … stunning looks, magnificent body, and yes, I'd kill to see him in a speedo. He's a kid though, for Christ's sake. No longer jailbait, for sure, but fuck … he was likely half my age.
My mind could accept the absurdity, but my cock couldn't. Beneath the bubbles I felt it stir and then swell and within seconds it has lying rigid against my tummy. My mind caught on to what was happening and told my arm to slip beneath the water and my hand to grasp my gonads. I sighed aloud as my fingers closed around my ballbag, sagging in the warm water. I gripped my balls and gently massaged them as my cock throbbed menacingly above.
If there's one thing above all others that I've been grateful for in life, it's that nature - and probably my old man - blessed me with a good sized cock. I won't pretend I'm one of those horse-hung porn stars we've all seen online, but it's a bloody good handful nonetheless; long, thick and cut. None of the girls I had fucked early in my sexual life ever complained about it, nor had the guys who replaced them when I finally acknowledged to myself that while pussy was pleasurable, penis was preferred!
My hands started to pump my boner as my mind drifted back to that first man-on-man experience when I was 17 and sharing the spa at the local pool with a lifeguard of about 28. He was a nice, friendly guy, and I liked the way he didn't pretend to be too cool to chat with a student. We sat side-by-side in the swirling water and shot the shit for a while before I felt his hand on my thigh. I was trying to figure out whether I should stop him or just play cool when his hand slipped down and encircled my balls, and I had my answer. Neither of us opened our eyes as he stroked my throbbing cock in a way no girl had ever come close to. Without even thinking about it, I moved my hand between his legs and took hold of him and slowly pumped him to a mind-blowing climax that hit at the same time as mine. I never knew his name and I never saw him again, but I have much to thank him for.
Ironically, when that older guy helped me unveil my true sexuality I was around the same age as the kid downstairs. Suddenly I was back to thinking about Board Boy. My mind registered bewilderment but my cock throbbed in my hand and I gave in to images of my teen obsession taking his morning shower …
As corny as it sounds, the lyric of "Cavatina", the theme from 'The Deer Hunter', swirled in my head:
"He was beautiful,
Beautiful to my eyes,
From the moment I saw him,
Sun filled the sky"
Rapidly my hand started moving up and down my stiff shaft as visions of Board Boy soaping his abs and running his hands down to his pubes danced in my head. I was unable to stop my hips thrusting upward to meet my pumping fist, and from what seemed a long way away I heard my own low moans. I actually cried out as my nuts emptied and I felt like I'd left my body as my cock shot a steady stream of cum above the bubbles to land on my face, chest, and stomach.
It took me some minutes to recover before I pulled myself from the surging tub and dried off. I was still baffled how a teenager had managed to consume my thoughts, but relaxed from such a powerful ejaculation. I sat with a glass of wine and watched the late business news in my boxers before turning in for the night.
* * *
As usual, in Queensland, the bright morning sun meant I woke early and I lay in bed for about half an hour listening to the gentle lapping of the waves and the hungry cries of the seagulls waiting to be fed by beachgoers.
I was up by 7:00 and after a quick shower I threw on my shorts and a tee shirt and headed off on a morning run along the beach. The sunbathers weren't yet out in force and the beach was deserted except for a handful of surfers riding waves.
I ran for about a kilometer before sitting on the sand and gazing out to sea for a while, and then ran back to my starting point, taking a small detour to grab a croissant, a banana, and a take away coffee. Back in my apartment, I headed out to the balcony and took in the view as the caffeine worked its magic.
Below me were the windows of the owner-occupied apartments, most of which still had their curtains drawn. As I watched, the curtains of one of the more luxurious apartments were pulled back and there, to my surprise and delight, was Board Boy standing at his bedroom window, looking out to sea. It was obvious he'd just woken up; wearing only a pair of plaid boxers, his curly hair was a mess, but he was still a vision. I knew I shouldn't be looking, but he was unaware of my presence and I found I couldn't avert my eyes.
I watched him scratch his head and mess his hair even more, before extending his arms above his head and yawning. He stood at his window for another minute or so, rubbed his chest with one hand and scratched his balls with the other, before moving further into his bedroom. I'd only watched him for a couple of minutes but already I felt a stirring in my shorts. Fuck, it had a long time since I'd had sex!
I distracted myself by finishing my breakfast and showering, throwing on sweat pants and a tee before wandering back onto the balcony with a cup of tea. I kidded myself that I was appreciating the vista, but the only view I found myself taking in was Board Boy's bedroom window.
I felt an adrenalin rush when I realised he'd gone back to bed. I couldn't see his face, but I saw the can of Coke on his bedside table and his body from the head down, lying flat on his bed, boxers around his ankles and cock in hand.
He was unashamedly having a wank, one hand playing with his balls, the other pumping his shaft. Either he was in a hurry because there were other people in the apartment, or he was just plain horny and needed some quick relief. Either way, the urgency of his stroking, with his ass raised slightly above the mattress, was evidence that he was about to drain the spuds.
Mesmerised by the sight, my hand slipped down the front of my sweats. I squeezed my hard cock and my fingers massaged the angry helmet. I jacked in time with the tantalizing teenager below, my eyes focused on his hand moving up and down his thick morning glory.
Soon enough he arched his back as he continued to stroke his beautiful prick with the customary urgency of his age group. I wished I could have heard the sounds he made as the first long jet of hot white cum shot from the head of his cock and splattered on his chest. It was quickly followed by four more ribbons of teen cream.
I watched as he sank back into his mattress and released his cock, running his palm across his stomach and spreading pools of semen across his belly. I felt a quickening tightness in my balls and after a couple more tugs on my dick, inside my sweats, I closed my eyes and grunted through a knee-buckling orgasm. When I opened them, Board Boy was gone, no doubt in his bathroom doing the big mop-up.
I needed to clean up too and as I headed towards my own bathroom I was struck by the realisation that I'd actually spied on a kid half my age getting his rocks off and that I'd not only boned up at the sight but had squirted a load while doing so - and it was only 9:30a.m. …
* * *
After lunch, with the sun at its peak, I headed to the pool and as I walked through the lobby, I noticed Board Boy was walking slightly behind me, carrying his body board. He was wearing surf shorts, a tee shirt and sandals, and he was obviously headed for the beach.
I have no idea why, but I felt myself flush. As he padded past, he glanced at me and smiled; it wasn't a smug smile and I was sure he didn't know I had watched him enjoying his solitary pleasure earlier in the day. It was just a polite gesture. His parents had obviously taught him good manners and had provided him a good dentist. I sighed inwardly.
Lying beside the pool, I was able to get through half a chapter of my book before I was joined by four teenage girls, who giggled, shrieked and talked very loudly, as teenage girls do. I moved as far from them as I could before finally giving up and going back to my apartment to watch motor racing on the big screen. Stretched out on the couch, I enjoyed a late afternoon snooze, visions of Board Boy riding the waves dancing in my head.
I didn't see him for a couple of days. There appeared to be no movement in his apartment and the curtains remained closed. By the third day, I figured he must have gone home already. He'd been on my mind, on and off, as I busied myself with being a holiday-maker and I was almost relieved at the thought he'd checked out. Even though I knew that nothing was ever going to happen, I was happy that temptation was taken out of my hands.
On my fourth morning, after breakfast and a run, I threw on my speedo, grabbed my book, and headed back to the pool only to find, to my annoyance, that the teenage girls were there again. The sun was high in the sky and most of the sun lounges were occupied so I had no choice but to sit close to them. At least this time they weren't quite so boisterous and I was able to read, vaguely aware of their chatter about boys.
My ears pricked up when they mentioned the "gorgeous guy" who'd checked in a few days before, the one with the curly dark hair and the body board. Did they mean my surfer?
When one girl wondered where he was, another chipped in with the news that he'd been injured on the rocks at the beach. Apparently he was climbing, missed his footing, and fell to the rock ledge below.
I stopped reading completely and surreptitiously hung on their every word. It had taken a while for lifesavers to reach him. While he was a little cut and bruised, nothing was damaged, except maybe his pride. He'd hurt his back and thighs and wouldn't be able to surf while he recuperated. The girls weren't sure, but they thought he was on his own.
I wasn't sure what to think. Should I knock on his door and show concern? Would that be weird? Should I be neighborly and slip a note under his door, offering to pick up some groceries for him? Should I simply act my age and accept that he's a kid and, like most kids, would survive perfectly well when left to his own devices?
These were questions that had no answers, so I put it all out of my mind and wandered into town for dinner. I went to the local pub for a counter meal and enjoyed a couple of beers. At the bar, I got talking to a hot looking guy named Andy, who was all enthused about the Coolangatta Gold. When he realised I'd missed it, he filled me in on every small detail.
We ended up shooting a game of pool together, but any hope that he might enjoy something thicker than a pool cue in his hands was dashed when his girlfriend turned up. He introduced her as Paige and told me they'd met only a few days prior. They were heading out for dinner at one of the seaside restaurants and when Paige went to the toilet, Andy winked at me and said "I reckon tonight's the night!"
"You think so, mate?" I replied, trying to sound interested.
"The way I figure it," he grinned, "Dinner then back to my hotel room and by midnight she'll be up to her guts in nuts!"
"Half your luck mate!" I laughed. I meant it, except I'd rather empty my nuts in his guts, not hers.
They left and as I finished my beer I looked around the bar. There were no more likely candidates, so I wandered back to the apartment and ended my night watching TV in bed!
* * *
The next morning I woke a little later than usual and, after a quick coffee, set off on my run. It was close to noon by the time I returned and after some fresh fruit and another coffee, I threw on a speedo, grabbed a beach towel, and my book and headed downstairs.
The day was hot but overcast, which meant barely anyone was by the pool because the sun wasn't shining. Thankfully, there was no sign of the teenage girls from the previous day.
I read for a while and when a waiter happened by, I ordered a beer and a light lunch. I'd been reading for maybe half an hour when the sound of someone trying to open the pool gate made me look up. There he was! It was Board Boy, wearing shorts and a tee shirt, and hobbling along on one crutch.
He was having no luck maneuvering the safety lock, so I jumped up and opened the gate for him. He thanked me as he hopped through.
I saw my chance and said, "I'll fix you a lounge" as I took his towel and threw it across the sun lounge positioned next to mine. I took hold of one of his arms and moved the crutch to help him lower himself.
"Been in the wars, mate?" I grinned.
"Yeah, slipped on the rocks," he replied.
"Do much damage?"
"Well, I fell on my ass, so I've got a sore lower back and my butt hurts too."
Without my asking, he lifted his tee shirt and showed me his scratches and some light bruising and then lay to his side and lowered his shorts a little to show me the abrasions he had on his lower back. I made all the right sympathetic noises, but I couldn't take my eyes off the promising crack of his ass.
When he sat back up, I held out my hand and said, "I'm Michael, by the way."
Shaking my hand, he replied, "G'day, I'm Scott. Is it Michael or Mike?"
"Either way is cool," I smiled.
"You here with your family on holiday?" he asked.
"I'm having a break from work for a while, been a big year," I replied. "But I'm here on my own. How about you?"
It turns out Scott was on his own, too. He was on school holidays after completing Year 11, so that would put him at about 17, a little older than I guessed. He was minding his older brother's luxury two-bedroom apartment, which was being renovated. In a couple of days, his brother would join him for the remainder of the week and then Scott would be heading back to the family's farm in Stanthorpe, Queensland.
We chatted for a while about school and life on a farm, before Scott asked what I did for a living. I told him I was a lawyer and that my area of expertise was music industry contract law and royalty recovery, which seemed to fascinate him. It wasn't just the usual questions I get from kids his age, like 'have you met anyone famous?' He seemed genuinely interested in what my job entailed.
I'd just finished telling him about the royalty battle I fought - and won - on behalf of a very famous Australian band, when my lunch arrived; one and a half bacon, lettuce, and tomato toasted sandwiches with a side of fries. Without being obvious, he was eyeing it hungrily.
"You hungry, mate?" I asked and, embarrassed, he said no. I figured he'd probably been stuck in his apartment for a couple of days with his injuries, eating God only knows what.
"It's a pity," I continued. "I didn't know when I ordered that it was gonna be this big, and it's way too much for me to eat. I'll be chucking most of it out."
I pushed the plate towards him and after a brief pause he pounced on it and demolished two of the three slices, as well as most of the fries. His enthusiasm made me laugh and after a moment of embarrassment he admitted that being a student, he didn't have a lot of cash and what he did have had been depleted by the doctor's bill and the hire of the crutches. He'd been eating baked beans and canned tuna for three days.
Replete, he lay back on his lounge and stretched his arms. My eyes were drawn to his armpits and the tangled sweaty mess of hair that I longed to bury my face in. The full body stretch that followed afforded me a glance at the prominent and promising bulge in his tight board shorts. Expert intuition led me to realise he'd gone commando. This kid was sizzling.
But he was 17, damn it.
I asked him what the next step in his recovery would be.
"The lifeguard said I should see a masseur," he said. "There's a guy he recommended in Surfer's Paradise, but I reckon he's probably too expensive."
"I could give you a massage if you like," I replied, trying to sound as nonchalant as I could.
Scott laughed. "Since when does a lawyer know anything about massage?"
"Well, smart ass," I shot back, "I actually have a Diploma in massage therapy."
"Really! When I was in at Uni studying law, I paid my own way by working part-time as a waiter. It didn't bring in enough bucks to cover my expenses, so I had to find something else to supplement my income. I chose massage because mostly clients pay in cash."
"So you're a tax evader?" Scott smirked.
"I was a tax evader, but I've certainly made up for it since," I replied. "And I'm a bloody good massage therapist."
"OK then. How much?"
I chuckled. "It's a freebie," I said. "I couldn't take money from a cripple!"
"Cool!" Scott beamed. "When?"
"Well, what's say 7:00p.m., and I'll barbeque us a couple of steaks first?"
"Man, I'd kill for a steak! Looks like you've got yourself a deal. Whereabouts are you?"
I pointed to the top floor of the apartment block. "The one on the corner."
"You mean the penthouse?" he asked, wide-eyed.
"That's the one."
"You rich or something?"
"Yeah, something like that," I smiled.
My mobile rang and I took an apologetic call from my office. Something urgent had come up and I needed to go back to my apartment and email them a file. I excused myself and told Scott I'd return soon. I was back poolside 20 minutes later, but Scott was nowhere to be seen.
I lay in the sun for another half an hour before packing up and returning to my apartment. I couldn't believe that in a few hours, I'd be rubbing my hands over Board Boy's hot body, but I quickly reminded myself that I'd made a professional offer.
"He's only 17," I kept telling myself ….