Sunday morning, Leonard Day lowered himself into the plush black leather chair at the desk of his sixteenth floor office. Still wearing his warm grey tracksuit and saffron Bluetooth headphones, he sank back into the soft padding, pressed a button to boot up his laptop computer, then placed his phone and car keys alongside the mousemat designed to resemble a Persian rug.
With a bark of laughter only he could hear, he ripped off the two fluorescent pink Post-It notes, one stuck in the middle of each of his two monitors. Both carried warnings in vivid purple felt penmanship; one to 'Go Home!' and the other to 'Get @ Life!' Shaking his head but still grinning at being caught out again, he dropped the notes into his wire wastebasket as his gaze trailed to the sight outside the room’s gloom.
Framed by the tinted office windows, a beautiful spring morning had woken to life, sunlight glistening off the rain-slick slate roofs of regimented rows of South London terraced houses. From a random music app playlist on his smartphone, the opening strains of Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 5 in D major provided the perfect soundtrack to the tranquil morn.
Naive perhaps, but he used to think none of his staff knew about his habit of slipping into the office on Sunday mornings. He did so with the pretence at checking figures and planning the week ahead, but mainly to avoid the ache of being at home on what was once his favourite day of the week. The easiest way to change a habit is to create a new and better one, his late Qigong teacher had once advised. So after performing a regular morning routine of gentle moves and stretching exercises in the back garden, and after locking up the house, his office provided the perfect distraction, a familiar sanctuary in his otherwise solitary world. And his team would remain none the wiser.
Until the day Kieran rumbled him.
His young, energetic marketing manager with an impeccable attention to detail, had caught Leonard out a few months ago. Kieran—dropped off at the office each weekday morning by his husband before anyone else arrived—noticed reports on Leonard's desk on Monday morning, ones that hadn't been there the previous Friday because Leonard had been travelling. Confronted, Leonard confessed, but tried to fob off the action as a one-off urgent business need. Kieran wasn't buying the excuse and, like the Post-It warnings this morning, often booby-trapped Leonard's desk. If you insist on everyone having a work-life balance, Kieran had stated aloud at a staff meeting, then you should set an example and live by your words.
Had he listened to the recommendations of the office designer, he would now have a lockable corner office. But ever since taking the floor space, Leonard insisted on open-plan for everyone, the only enclosed spaces being two fishtanks—glass conference rooms—either ends of the office. Leonard's desk sat in the middle of the open floor space, the same size as everyone else's, surrounded on all sides by his staff, his surrogate family. And he loved being in the thick of things. None of his team just worked for him, they contributed, not one of them complaining about extra effort when business ramped up, not one having anything but positive things to say about their working environment. Yes, Leonard preached work-life balance—even if he didn't exactly live by his own ethos—and made sure nobody stayed beyond five-thirty every day, unless absolutely necessary. And every Friday, to show his gratitude, he either prearranged snacks and drinks in the office from four-thirty if he happened to be away, or took them to a local wine bar. In the office, at least, Leonard found smiling effortless.
But of all his team, Kieran didn't miss a trick. After Kieran brought his fiery bundle of energy into the office on his day off, a Cockerpoo canine called Ed—causing havoc much to everyone’s delight—he had tried hard to persuade Leonard to get himself a pet dog. But Leonard's schedule meant him continually being away from home, travelling to various parts of the country for a week or more at a time, to assess listed buildings or attend antique shows or car auctions. Kieran, as usual, hadn't bought the excuse.
"Sorry, Len," he'd said, one Friday evening as his whole team gathered around a wine bar table for drinks. "But I'm calling bullshit for three very distinct reasons. First off, you can employ a dog sitter for when you're travelling. I can even provide names. Second, did you, or did you not employ Izzy here as your Assistant Director for the sole purpose of reducing your workload?"
Of all his staff, only Kieran ever dared challenge him publicly this way, but always in a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek manner. Truth be told, he'd wanted smart, creative, personable Kieran as his number two. But when Kieran and his husband, Kennedy, had added twin boys to their family unit, many of their life priorities had changed.
"You already know the answer to that."
"Then let her. She's more than capable of hunting out grubby antiques around the country, or looking over rundown, borderline derelict properties."
Isabelle sat smiling down at her glass of merlot but said nothing. Clearly, words had been spoken behind his back. Only Kieran would call him out for being unwilling to let go of work.
"Remind Kieran again what they're called, will you please, Isabelle?"
"Listed buildings," said Isabelle, laughing along with the rest of the team.
"We call them listed buildings, Kieran. But thank you for your advice. Your point has been made and taken into consideration."
"Then I rest my case," said Kieran, folding his arms and sitting back.
"Hang on, you said three reasons."
"Ah, yes. Thirdly—and most importantly—Ed needs a playmate."
Leonard raised his gaze to the desk in front, cast an eye over Kieran's haphazard workspace and smirked. The monitor had been plastered randomly with an assortment of colourful Post-It reminders in his scrawled handwriting, while trade magazines lay open and left across the keyboard. Pride of place on his desk sat a large framed photo of him, his husband, and their kids. Another showed the cheeky faced cross-breed called Ed they'd adopted, with with what looked like a television remote control in his mouth. Thirty-two years old and Kieran was surrounded by so much love, very different from the young man Leonard had first met. Leonard turned forty-seven in May and what did he have? A handful of successful businesses, maybe, but there it ended. At home? Not even a goldfish. Then again, perhaps he'd already had his time in the light.
Leonard did not follow through on the dog plan, mainly because he didn't share Kieran's affinity for pets. During his childhood, he'd broached the subject once only—he must have been seven or eight at the time—and both parents had stated their disgust at domestic animals, dismissing them as unruly and unhygienic. There the conversation had ended. Both accomplished scientists—microbiologists, to be precise—they lived in a simple semi-detached a few miles away from the university campus research centre. Work had been their lives. His father specialised in mycology; the study of mushrooms, toadstools, and other fungi, and in particular how various species can kill or cure, while his mother, more interested in classification, had concentrated her efforts on microbial taxonomy: the naming and classification of micro-organisms. As couples went, they could not have been a more perfect match.
For a few seconds, he stared at his Cisco desk phone, wondering if he ought to ring them. Usually, the call entailed awkward generalities and painful silences, neither end having much of any importance to divulge. Both had retired from university life. Heaven knows what they talked about at home.
As an only child, Leonard often wondered if he had been an experiment rather than a child born of any intimacy. Neither parent had demonstrated the kind of tactile warmth or fondness he had witnessed in other families during his childhood. Not that his own were uncaring or cruel in any way. Nutrition and learning had been a religion in their house. And they had positively encouraged his studies, both praising him for good grades while trying hard to mask their disappointment when he failed at any subject related to the pure sciences. This had been mitigated slightly when he excelled at mathematics, social sciences and, in particular, business studies.
After a quick check of message headings in his email inbox, most of which he had already read and drafted replies to—he never sent his team emails over the weekend—he returned to the one containing attachments sent by his finance officer. Spreadsheets often proved too long and detailed to open on his home laptop but displayed adequately on his two monitors. End of month figures popped up on his screens, much as Leonard had expected except for the incredible statistics on their latest venture, the online auction. Between the two, Isabelle and Kieran had come up with the idea as an extension of their antiques site. Traffic had increased tenfold, but more importantly, sales in both had skyrocketed. He folded his arms, sat back in his chair and allowed himself a moment to gloat.
Fortunately for him, a singleminded determination to focus in the field of business management had allowed him to study for his undergraduate degree in Bournemouth, far enough away that his parents only deemed the occasional visit home necessary. When the time had come to leave at the age of nineteen, he could fend for himself, had learned to appreciate his own company. A harder lesson had been in realising he had developed a singular attractiveness in his late teens. One female college student had referred to him as the sexy lone wolf, and despite getting ample offers, girls did nothing for him.
After scanning other columns of figures and satisfied all of them headed in the right direction, he checked the display on his phone: ten o'clock. Perfect timing. An hour before he set off for the hotel in York to spend two days in business meetings viewing potential properties around the area. Far enough from home, he might even try for a random hook-up using the app he had recently discovered and downloaded. Kieran was right about one thing. At some point, he really needed to get himself a life.
Although made in jest, a quip about him by their friend Pete on a cruise holiday still stung. Thinking Leonard to be out of earshot, someone had asked Pete why he nicknamed Leonard ‘Any Day'. Pete had replied, "Because any day is better than Lenny Day. The man is a walking misery." Overhearing this, he had been shocked to the core. When had he changed from being a sexy lone wolf to a walking misery? Naturally, Kennedy had stepped in to defend him even though, in fairness, Pete—in his casual nonpartisan way—had less than respectful names for all of their friends. The main problem? Leonard sensed the truth behind the quip. Maybe he needed to make more of an effort to be cheerful outside of his day-to-day.
Closing down programs on his laptop and pulling off his earphones, a distant sound caught his attention. He raised his head and froze.
Barely audible beyond the building's thick glazing, somewhere out there in the suburbs, cutting through the constant hum of traffic, came the peal of church bells. For as long as comfortably possible, he held his breath, squeezing his eyes shut and absorbing the simple melody.
Church bells, like Sunday mornings at home, reminded him of Kris. And without warning or witness, overcome by immobilising grief that should have died with his lover ten years ago, tears stung his eyes. He rarely allowed himself to wallow in thoughts of his time with Kris, but the memories filled him with such warmth and love and togetherness, something he had never since experienced. Unfortunately, when the recollections inevitably dissolved, they would leave him emotionally naked and desolate, standing alone in the stark coldness of reality.
Until the shrill ring of his desk phone drowned out everything else.
For a moment he sat there, appalled at the intrusion, glaring angrily at the device, deciding whether or not to answer. Eventually, after six rings, he relented.
"Days-Gone-By Enterprises," he answered gruffly, ripping a tissue from a box on his desk and dabbing at his eyes.
"Leonard," came his mother's stern voice. Although no explanation had been forthcoming, she no longer called his mobile phone. “I tried you at your house but you weren’t answering. You need to come home. Your father passed this morning, and I need your help arranging things. When can you be here?"
"What?" said Leonard, caught off guard. "Oh, God, mum. Dad died? I’m so sorry. What happened?"
"Not now. When can you be home?"
"I—I can come now." He had a packed case in his car, ready for the business trip. By some stroke of fate, he had even packed his black Hugo Boss suit for meetings. A few clicks of his phone and he could cancel the York trip. “I suppose I could be there around three or four. Traffic willing."
"I'll get your room ready."
Before he had a chance to probe any further, she ended the call. Annoyance bubbled in him, her bluntness painful, ignorant of any sudden shock or grief he might be feeling at the passing of his father.
As he left the office, he did something he hated, and called Isabelle on her day off, to hand over the reins for the week ahead. At home, his own house, everything would be fine.
* * *
Windscreen wipers hissing furiously to clear the torrential rainfall that had met him head-on halfway down the motorway, Leonard finally signalled off the Norwich Southern Bypass. Through the wall of rain, landmarks began to bring back memories.
On his left, the building-block medical centre. Further on, glossy leaves of trees and fallow fields of long grass, lined the road on the twisty turning Longwater Lane. Further on, the familiar village of Costessey and the King's Head pub where he'd had his first-ever pint of beer at the illegal age of fourteen—The Red Lion was closer to home, but everyone knew everyone in Drayton.
Once he crossed the River Wensum, thick overhanging trees plunged his SUV into gloom along the narrow, unlit lane leading into the heart of his old town. Initially, he thought leaving straight away was a wise choice. Doing so would avoid navigating narrow and often single-width roads at night. But the rain had brought early darkness, which meant him moving slowly, headlights on full beam. As he crawled around another curve in a lane crowded on both sides by trees, hoping not to meet another driver in the opposite direction, the phone in his dashboard display beeped with an incoming call.
"Hi, Kieran. What's up?"
Instead of Kieran, the voice of his partner Kennedy came through the car speakers.
“Isabelle phoned Kieran. Said you'd had a family emergency that's taken you way out east. He wants to know if you’re okay, and if there’s anything we can do to help?”
In the background, Leonard could hear a baby screaming. Two kids to look after, both men with full-time jobs, and he knew them well enough to recognise the genuine offer of help. Sometimes you have to thank the world for what you have, not mourn what you don't.
"Not really, but thanks for asking. Dad passed away, that's all I know right now. Mum hasn't told me much. He was seventy-five, not old really. But he had a heart condition, although I understood he had that under control. I suppose you never really know. So there'll be arrangements to make; registering the death, booking the funeral, contacting family members, checking if he had a Will, and other nonsense. Mum will need my help with all that. But you could remind that husband of yours to keep an eye on Isabelle in case she needs assistance. She's going to be taking up the reins for the next week while I'm away."
"That's a given," came Kieran's voice in the background. "And don't worry. We promise to water your plants, feed your fish, and walk your dog—"
“Slap your husband for me, Kennedy, will you?”
"And Izzy and I can take care of the Cheltenham manor project, as well as the meeting with your accountant on Wednesday."
"Shit, I’d completely forgotten. I can always dial in—"
"Let me and Izzie take care of it, Len. Its what you pay us for. Go do what you need to do. Izzy's got a degree in finance. And I think between the two of us we can translate what he's telling us into layman’s terms and work out what needs to happen next."
"Okay, point taken. Thanks, Kieran."
"Sorry, he can't come to the phone," came Kennedy's voice again. "Little Clint's having a meltdown and refuses to let anyone but Kieran touch him. Take good care of yourself, Len. Let us know when you're back, and we'll drag you over for drinks and dinner."
"Thanks, Kennedy. Appreciate the call. Love to you both. And the kids and the pooch."
Even though the call had made him feel lighter, driving out of the darkened lane into the outskirts of his old town, his thoughts returned to his plight. Drayton dragged up mixed emotions. Having lived for most of his adult life in the hustle and bustle of South London, he remembered the towns around Norwich from childhood as being frustratingly sedate, bordering lifeless, full of old people living out their final years in bungalows with well-tended gardens.
When he finally turned the car into his old road, a shiver ran through him. Memories returned, of traipsing along the street alone in the early hours to get his bus, always alone; a lonely wolf.
After sitting behind the wheel for a full five minutes, he finally took a deep, steadying breath, opened the car door and pulled his suitcase from the passenger seat. Through the rain, he made a dash for the front door. Nothing about the house appeared to have changed. The same frosted glass on the single pane front door, surrounded by racing green woodwork, the same white net curtains at every window, the concreted over front yard with only two ceramic pots containing small fir trees either side of the front bay window, testament to the fact that the inhabitants cared little for gardening.
Unsmiling, his mother answered the door and ushered him inside. Once the door closed, she turned her face to allow him to kiss her left cheek. Never one to show emotion, he found her hard to read, to understand her mood. If anything, she looked older but not distraught as some wives might be on losing their husband. She had even been to the hairdressers, probably in readiness for the funeral they needed to arrange. The dress she wore—a simple plain pale green affair—she'd had for years. As always, her reading glasses hung from a silver chain around her neck.
"Take your bag up to your room. Your house keys are on the nightstand. And take those boxes of books with you. Been sitting there for weeks waiting for your father to sort them out. I'll put the kettle on. Then you can work out what needs to be done."
No formal greeting, no words of sympathy; straight down to business. And as usual, he did exactly as asked. Once he had dropped everything on the floor in his old bedroom, he sat on the bed and looked around. Nothing had changed. Single bed, small oak wardrobe, desk and chair with a table lamp: positively monastic. Whenever he came home from university for the holidays, he would spend as little time as possible in the room or in the house, which he'd always found oppressive. Unlike other boy's bedrooms, his had no posters, no board games, no stickers, no Airfix models; nothing to let you know this room once belonged to a boy. At twenty-two, when he'd met Kris, and they moved in together, although he still came home from time to time, he rarely stayed over. Minutes later, he was back in the kitchen.
"What happened, mum?" he said, as he joined her for tea at the kitchen table.
"He died in his sleep. Last night, we went to bed together. When I woke in the morning, he was cold. Doctor Nguyen came this morning to do a preliminary check and then they took the body away. Said he needed to report the death to a coroner because the cause of death was sudden and unknown. So they'll do a post-mortem, but he suspects the cause to be heart failure. We'll know more tomorrow morning."
“Can we organise the funeral yet?"
"As soon as his body's released. Which, as I say, is likely to be tomorrow. After that, we'll get a medical certificate. In the meantime, you'll need to go through his things; insurance policies, university pension procedures. Fill out any necessary forms. I've got everything else organised, but you're better at that kind of thing. I'll bring the box files down."
Over the next two hours, she brought piles of paperwork for Leonard to wade through, to make a list of all the things he needed to do and telephone numbers of people he needed to contact. Something that had thankfully changed since he last visited was the laptop computer his father had invested in, which, fortunately, was not password protected. While he finished up, his mother excused herself to prepare food for them. They sat in silence through a dinner of pork chop, carrots and green beans—his mother had never been much of a cook. Afterwards, as Leonard stood at the sink with his arms submerged in warm suds washing dishes, the doorbell rang. Twisting his wrist, he checked his watch. Seven-thirty.
"See who that is," said his mother, sitting at the table with a cup of tea, reading a medical journal.
Something registered then, a memory coming back to him, about her reliance on other people to get what she wanted—subliminal bullying almost. She'd been good at it, too, still was if after one phone call her son came trotting home. Usually, she'd had his father or her assistants at the college to run around for her. Was she expecting him to return home for good to take care of her? If so, they would need to sit down and have a cold, hard conversation. He wiped his hands on the dishcloth and headed towards the large silhouette behind the mottled glass of the front door.
"I knew that had to be your monster wagon. Little Lenny Day. Sorry to hear about Uncle Colin.”
"Eric? How are you?" said Leonard, with disbelief, opening the door wide and noting the rain had stopped. Cousin Eric, son of his mother's brother, had lived along the same road throughout their childhood. Funnily enough, they'd never really connected as kids, mainly because boys considered two year's age difference cavernous. Touching fifty now, he'd lost most of his hair and had a large pot belly protruding from his brown corduroy jacket. But his pronounced Norfolk accent was unmistakable. "Come on in."
"Actually, I wondered if you fancied a pint. Down the Lion. It being Sunday night and all."
"Who is it?" came his mother's voice from the kitchen.
"Cousin Eric," called Leonard, and then more quietly added. "I'd love a pint. If only to get out of this bloody mausoleum for five minutes."
"Tell him I'll pop over to see Marcie first thing tomorrow morning," called his mother. Aunt Marcie was Eric's mother.
"I'll let her know, Auntie Gerry,” Eric called back. "I'm just going to drag Len out for a pint. Hope you don't mind?"
As he had been speaking, Len heard a movement from behind.
"He's only just got here," came his mother's voice.
"I'm fine," said Leonard, plucking his jacket from the coat rack. "And I won't be long."
"But you haven't finished the washing up."
Leonard put his foot down.
"I'm going for a pint, mum. I'll be back later."
Ten minute's walk and they entered the bright interior of The Red Lion. In spite of a healthy crowd of Sunday imbibers, Eric found them a spare booth, while Leonard went to the bar to get drinks.
“Do you still live in Drayton?" asked Leonard as he set down the two pints of Guinness and took a seat opposite Eric.
"No, mate. Just visiting mum and dad. They love seeing the kids. But we're only in Kettleston, half an hour's drive from here. The wife, Bev's, the designated driver today. The light of my life. Are you married yet?"
"No," said Leonard, not wanting to discuss his private life. "Too busy."
To deflect, he started telling Eric about the businesses he'd kicked off after university, which usually piqued people’s interest, especially when he talked about the trials of renovating listed buildings, valuable antiques he had stumbled upon, or the vintage car market. Eric seemed to lap up Leonard's stories, having himself left school at sixteen and gone straight into retail. His life had been far more humble. Manager of a small local supermarket, he made a good enough living, enough to support his family of four. Beverley, his wife, had been a checkout assistant in the store, which is how they had met. Proud of his family, Eric brought out his phone and showed Leonard snapshots of them on their recent family holiday to Turkey. Leonard let himself relax and enjoy Eric talking about the various excursions and adventures they'd enjoyed as a family. While looking at one particular snap of them all together in a beautiful azure sea, a message popped up on the screen, so Leonard handed the phone back.
"It's the boss telling me we're leaving at nine. This will have to be my last."
After the diversion, he began involving Leonard in the conversation, talking about their childhood in Drayton, about their school and the people they both knew.
"Talking of which," said Eric, his eyes widening and a twitch of his head. "Did you see who's over there at the bar, perched on a stool?"
Leonard peered over Eric's shoulder to where a big man—a regular, he guessed—craned over his beer glass, his body squeezed against the wall at the far end of the bar. His broad back to them, he wore an untucked red and black plaid shirt and jeans, with short curly hair of dark red and naturally tanned skin. His back to them, Leonard could not make out the face.
"Yeah, you do. That's Adrian Lamperton. He went to the same high school as us."
Leonard's gaze darted back again. Adrian Lamperton. Sports prodigy. Mixed race. Built like a bulldozer and insanely good-looking. How could he ever forget? Drayton didn't have a secondary school, at least not when they were growing up, so Leonard took the bus each morning to attend a school in Norwich. Cranmer Secondary School for Boys had been a horror from the moment he arrived. Older boys like Adrian usually ignored younger boys, so Leonard had been totally taken by surprise at being singled out by this fifth former, Lamperton, in his first week at the school. Gay Lenny, he'd called him in front of his pack of sports morons, a puerile, hardly inventive nickname which raised an instant cackle. During the first assembly of winter term, a teacher had called the register for pupils using their surnames followed by their given name, hence 'Day, Leonard' became Gay Leonard then Gay Lenny. From that first encounter, the name had stuck with some kids, almost at the same time as Leonard's mind and body began to realise the truth in the name calling. Never one to suffer fools, Leonard initially ignored the taunt, but with handsome, sporty Lamperton soon becoming the most popular boy in the school, his entourage and followers took up the chant. Strangely enough, Lamperton only ever used the name that one time and seemed almost embarrassed when he passed Leonard in the corridor, thrusting his gaze to the floor and making every effort to avoid meeting Leonard's angry glare.
Even as a fourteen-year-old, Lamperton had been big; tall, large-boned, broad-shouldered and with not an ounce of fat. His shaggy mess of curly copper hair at odds with his milky coffee West Indian complexion ensured he could always be spotted across the playground or in a crowd, something Leonard had noticed more than he wanted to, even though he told himself he did so to avoid contact with the older boy. At school, Lamperton dazzled on the rugby field, and despite his height and size, could move like an express train. Other players rarely found courage enough to get in his way once he took off down the field. Off the pitch, however, he appeared uncomfortable in his own skin, often hunching forward, his head hung low, his eyes always lowered. Back then, like a lot of boys, Leonard had suffered from the blight of adolescent acne. For some reason, Lamperton managed to avoid the condition, his own tan skin remaining freckled, but flawless and unblemished in the year before he left.
There had been talk of him being singled out by a talent coach for a rugby league team and being offered a place in their youth scholarship scheme once he reached fifteen. By then, Leonard had forgotten all about him. After his own examinations, Leonard packed his bags for college and escaped from Drayton without a backward glance. He'd assumed Lamperton had been one of the lucky few to chase his dream, but the morose looking figure hunched at the bar right now seemed to tell another story.
"Yeah, I remember him now."
"Used to play rugger. Pretty bloody good, too, if I remember right. You never played the sport, did you?"
"Not in high school. Unless I had to. But I got into tennis at college. Didn't Lamperton get an offer to play for one of the big clubs?"
"Leeds Rhinos? Never happened. Didn’t finish school. Something to do with his father."
Eric leant forward then, his shiny nose not far from Leonard's face, his voice lowered.
"Apparently, he's a poofter."
"No! His father’s dead. Him. Adrian Lamperton."
Leonard raised an eyebrow and looked over again. Something they had in common.
"You wouldn't know to look at him, would you?"
Leonard threw himself back in his seat and studied Eric, to assess whether he meant the remark, which he clearly did.
"Poofters have a look now, do they?"
“You know what I mean. He doesn't, you know, have any of those mannerisms. And, apparently, he's in the building trade."
"Seriously?" said Leonard, wondering if he'd stepped back in time. "Where the hell is Gareth Thomas when you need him? Is that still how you identify a gay man in this backwater? Jesus, Eric, I've worked beside lots of men who are interior designers some with flamboyant mannerisms, but only a few were gay. Add to that the brickies or roofers I've employed, built the size of a Rolls Royce jet engine, totally straight-acting but openly gay and proud, and you'd frankly give up trying to pigeonhole anyone. I thought those clichés died a death with the last century, but they’re clearly still alive and well in Norwich.”
"Okay, okay. Calm down, Mister politically-bloody-correct," said Eric, laughing feebly. To give himself some distance, Leonard suggested they drink up and go, before excusing himself to use the toilet at the back of the pub.
When he returned along the pub's corridor, the formidable figure of Lamperton came towards him, his gaze trained on the floor at his feet. As he approached, he raised his head to take in the person heading this way. For a split second, something resembling recognition widened his eyes, but almost immediately, the gaze fell back to the carpet, and without slowing, he passed Leonard in silence.
Considering the years, only Lamperton's eyes spoke of a troubled life. Not the colour, an incredible golden brown hue which always seemed to complement his tan skin and dark red hair, but the shadowed bags beneath those eyes, and the permanent worry lines carved between his eyebrows.
So Lamperton turned out gay, too, thought Leonard. Isn't life full of little ironies?
Thank you for reading.
All reactions, comments, and especially wild speculation about what happens next, will be taken very seriously.