During Nathan’s Friday morning exercise—his morning runs now confined to Tuesdays and Fridays—he raked over the appearance of fifty-nine year old Fingal Finnegan during the week. Apart from having to listen carefully to understand everything the man said—the Irish brogue very different to local accents—he really liked Fingal, found the man down to earth and probably more knowledgeable than Nathan would ever be about their profession. He reminded Nathan of his grandfather, the light in his eyes sparkling when he talked about his love of his calling. Another huge thing in his favour; he and Arthur Meade got on like old friends, talking about the trials and tribulations of using the now-considered obsolete ovens. If he was going to be absolutely honest with himself, he knew Fingal to be capable of being left in charge for the long weekend, knew the man would know exactly what to do. Which is why he texted Martin back and agreed to drive over and stay for the weekend, driving back Sunday night. But, however irrational the emotion, deep down inside the mere thought of not being there, of being away from the shop for even a whole working day—especially his two busiest days—made his mouth dry, and sent a shiver of cold dread through him.
Despite a few curious questions from Jaymes, he hadn’t shared his terror with anyone, had even given an enthusiastic Fingal the spare set of shop keys for the weekend duty. But even as he handed them over, he felt removed from his body, as though someone else performed the treacherous deed. Fingal had spent each day since Monday in the shop shadowing him or Arthur or Molly, going through each simple routine including opening the store, dealing with invoices, and closing and cashing up in the evening. Fingal even suggested a couple of improvements, simple things Nathan had never considered.
Just after ten, having stayed to help through the morning rush, Nathan tossed his overnight bag into the back of Jaymes’ Rover. At breakfast, Jaymes explained his need for a diversion on the trip, to drop off files to a colleague in the South Downs National Park, so their route would take them south, a little out of their way. They agreed to stop off for lunch in Winchester, which would get them to Oxford mid-afternoon. After Nathan had texted Martin, and everything was set, they managed to get as far as the end of the high street before Nathan breathing became erratic and he demanded Jaymes pull the car over.
“I can’t do it, Jaymes. I can’t leave the shop unsupervised.”
“It’s not unsupervised, Nate. Fingal is more than capable—”
“I know. I know,” said Nathan, putting his head into his hands and scrubbing at his hair, his heart pounding. “In theory, he is. I know that better than anyone. But I just have this feeling that if I leave, something bad will happen. Don’t ask me how, but I just know.”
“Okay, Nate. Now you’re sounding unreasonable. Nothing’s going to happen—”
“How do you know?” said Nathan, looking up and glaring at Jaymes, hearing himself getting hysterical. “You don’t. Nobody does. Shit happens. Shit none of us can predict.”
“Nate, Nate,” said Jaymes, switching off the engine, and pulling Nathan’s body into his arms. “Christ, you’re shaking, baby. Calm down.”
Jaymes’ body heat began to work its magic almost immediately, as he held tight and, with one hand, stroked slow, calming circles into Nathan’s back.
“Okay, look. I’m no psychiatrist, but my guess is your worry comes from you feeling as though you’re about to abandon the shop. And, yes, I use the word abandon deliberately. On two occasions when you’ve left in the past—to go to school, or for a run—you’ve returned to find someone’s left you for good. Your mother and your father. Even Clifton. I get it, Nate. I do. But those were other people. Your mother had a choice, your father’s time was simply up. In each case, they left you and there was nothing you could have done. Not really. This time, you’re in control. This time the choice is yours and you’re coming back. You’re not abandoning anyone or anything, are you?”
Unbidden, Nathan’s eyes had moistened. Everything Jaymes said, he knew already, had told himself the same thing time and time again. But nobody had ever reflected those words back to him.
“I hate this fucking village. I do. And I hate my fucking life here. Why can’t I be normal? Why can’t I have a normal life, like everyone else in the world?”
“You think everyone else has it better? Sorry to piss on your pity party, Nate, but that is simply not the case. One of Polly’s teacher colleagues, a single parent, is bringing up a young son with cerebral palsy. And do you know what terrifies her most, what keeps her awake at night? Not the act of living up to the actual caring, which she does brilliantly, but the thought of what’s going to him happen when she’s too old to do so. More people than you could ever imagine are dealing with their own nightmares, just trying to get through each day.”
Still held by Jaymes, Nathan quietened for a moment, hearing their hearts beating in tandem.
“Look, if you really don’t want to go,” said Jaymes, “we turn around and head back now. But remember that Polly’s going to be stopping over in the flat the whole weekend and she’ll call instantly if there’s a problem. Molly, Arthur and Fingal all have your contact number. And we’re about a two and a half hour’s drive away, in the unlikely event we need to get back urgently. More importantly, you deserve this time away, Nate. You’ve earned it. So what do you want to do? Just say the word.”
Nathan straightened up and, without looking at Jaymes, swiped at his eyes with the palms of his hands.
“Did you ever see that film The Forgotten?” asked Nathan, trying to make light of his meltdown. “With Julianne Moore. About aliens abducting kids and then observing the parents to see how long it took them to forget about their own offspring.”
“I can safely say I’ve never seen the movie.”
“There’s a bit where the aliens can just ping a person into the sky, rip them from the earth and whip them straight up into space. I wish that would happen to me right now.”
“Really? One movie definitely not to watch. What do you want to do, Nate?”
Nathan took a deep calming breath and pushed a hand through his hair. Despite feeling the remains of nausea in his stomach, the undercurrent of his dark thoughts, the moment had passed.
“Drive on, Jay. Let’s do this thing.”
“Good man,” said Jaymes, starting up the engine again.
For the next ten minutes, they travelled in silence, and Nathan simply breathed. If anything, he felt embarrassed about his breakdown, but also found starting up a conversation again difficult. Did Jaymes think less of him because of his show of weakness? Eventually he found some common ground.
“His name’s Billy, by the way,” said Nathan.
“The kid with CP you mentioned. Billy Corrigan. Jemma Corrigan’s boy, Polly’s colleague. He goes to St Joseph’s. Absolutely lovely kid. Played in the school football team against us. Has a bit of trouble balancing and staying upright all the time, but the lad has so much enthusiasm and the most amazing laugh.”
Without saying a word, Jaymes’ hand reached across and landed on Nathan’s upper thigh. Nathan peered at him, sniffed back the remains of his tears, and smiled at Jaymes’ own grin as he concentrated on driving. And right then, his heart gave a tug and he felt a feeling waken inside him, as though lifting this head to witness the most spectacular sunrise. As inconvenient as the emotion might be—considering Jaymes would be gone in June—he realised something unquestionable in that brief, blindingly obvious moment.
Nathan had fallen in love with Jaymes.
“Paper tissues are in the glove compartment,” said Jaymes, no judgement, just a statement of fact.
When Nathan pulled open the drawer, glad to have something to do, he found a pair of thick leather gloves on top of an untidy mess of other items buried beneath, including sunglasses, letters, paper documents, and packets of unopened tissues.
“You must be one of the few people I know who actually keeps gloves in his glove compartment.”
“In my line of work, those babies are a life saver. You can wear them if your hands are cold.”
“Nah, I’m fine.”
Nathan pulled out a few items before getting to a pack of tissues. As he began to replace the documents, he noticed one from somewhere called the Bangor Medical Centre.
“It’s okay. It’s just the results of a regular health check,” said Jaymes, noticing Nathan’s attention drawn to the document. “Have a look if you want. FC has me taking medicals annually. That one’s from just before I arrived here. A condition of our medical insurance.”
“So I take it you’re fine?”
“Fit as a butcher’s dog,” said Jaymes, before a moment of hesitation had him glancing at Nathan. “Goes with the territory, Nate. I don’t have a choice in the matter in my line of work.”
“Heavens, Jaymes. I’m not criticising. I’d be the last one on the planet to do that. Since as long as I can remember, my father made me and him have bi-annual medical check-ups together. Ironically, he was obsessive about health, despite being a closet smoker. My last one was in January. And I, too, am in good shape.”
“You most certainly are.” Jaymes waggled his eyebrows, before winking at Nathan. Jaymes’ habit of catching his eye, or winking, or smirking had suddenly taken on new meaning, and Nathan found himself blushing.
“Are you okay?” asked Jaymes, who missed nothing.
“I’m—I’m fine. Sorry, a bit hot in here.”
Jaymes did not seem be buying Nathan’s excuse and after staring at him a couple of times, his eyes were drawn to the now-closed glove compartment.
“Come on, Nate. Spit it out.”
“No I—I just wanted to say thank you. For being a good friend. And not kicking me out of the car.”
Jaymes snorted and shook his head, and even though he said no more, Nathan could tell he hadn’t completely believed Nathan.
Using the GPS navigation app on Nathan’s phone—after completing Jaymes’ chore and having a leisurely lunch—they pulled up outside Martin and Gallagher’s house just before three. On the outskirts of Oxford, the two men’s character converted farmhouse sat in its own grounds. All original features or updates matching them, with mature trees, well-tended bushes and other colourful flora out front, the building couldn’t have been more different to Clifton’s grandparent’s new-build. A familiar Tesla sat in the driveway—Clifton’s car—next to a Range Rover, an older, more traditional design in racing green. Jaymes smiled and grunted his approval, parking alongside.
“Nice to see somebody else in this world has taste.”
“I didn’t realise Clifton would be here,” said Nathan. “Truly. I thought it was just us.”
“Aren’t they filming the series using this house? Isn’t that the whole point of you being here?”
“Yes, I—I suppose so.”
“Then, of course Clifton’s going to be here.”
Martin must have heard them pull up, because as they collected their bags from the back of the Land Rover, he appeared at the front door. Decked out in mustard corduroy trousers and an oatmeal crew neck sweater he looked as welcoming and comfortable as his home.
“All morning Gallagher’s been asking me when the real people are going to arrive. And here you are. Thank goodness. You can get him off my back about this whole arrangement. Come through.”
Martin led the way through the house, down dark, oak-panelled hallways with intricately patterned rugs on the floor, past beautiful rooms with exotic wall hangings, walls lined with ornate wooden cabinets, bookcases, or hung with antique paintings, past a long bevelled mirror with a polished wooden frame, beautiful blue and white Chinese plant holders—nothing cluttered, but carefully positioned to make the most of both the house’s character and the eye-catching artefacts.
“Love your house, Martin,” said Jaymes.
“Thank you. You should have seen the state she was in when we bought her. Took a lot of love and care, and hard earned cash to get her looking like this.”
“I can image. What kind of acreage so you have?”
“Just over eleven. The previous owner sold off a lot of the land to another farmer. But we have enough surrounding us to make sure we’re not encroached upon by developers or other ventures. The field at the back of the house is ours and leads down to the Grendle River. We’ll take a walk there tomorrow morning.”
Enjoying Nathan’s or Jaymes’ attention, Martin stopped from time to time to explain one piece or another, citing approximate time periods, countries or origin and, in some cases, even the designer of the piece: painter, craftsman or sculptor. When they reached four huge studio lights, modern and standing in a row and wildly out of place, stored against one wall of what Nathan assumed to be the living room, Martin stopped and heaved out a deep sigh.
“Happily, the whole film crew doesn’t descend on us until Sunday morning first thing so we have a day and a half of respite before the show begins, or the shit-show as Gallagher calls it. Although at Giorgio’s request—Clifton’s, more like—we’re hosting drinks for members of the cast tomorrow night. Hope that’s okay by you chaps? Drop your bags here and come through to the conservatory. I know it’s a lovely day, but it’s a bit too cold to sit in the garden. So our sacred pavilion is the next best thing.”
Bright light shone from the end of the house where a conservatory built of glass and timber brought natural sunlight into the interior. Lined all around with verdant plants of various shapes and sizes, the humid space felt like a greenhouse, except the stone floor had been laid with a wonderful circular rug of terracotta silk, and the centre of the semi-circular space was filled with comfortable cream-coloured settees and a large oak coffee table. White china containers of milk and brown sugar sat on a large steel tray amid matching cups and saucers, and elegantly designed pots of coffee and tea. The first to catch his attention, Raul looked up and smiled as Nathan entered behind Martin. Clifton sat next to him, talking urgently into his mobile phone, but looked up and waved on seeing their arrival.
“Told you I heard a car engine,” said Martin. “Nathan and Jaymes have arrived. Come and get some coffee, boys.”
Jaymes entered behind Nathan and squeezed up against his back, a hand draped over one shoulder, his chin resting on the other. When Nathan turned quizzically to him, he pecked a kiss on his lips, before turning to raise a palm in greeting to Raul and Clifton. So much for keeping their physical contact on the down low. Raul grinned broadly and rose to meet them.
“Where’s Gallagher?” asked Nathan, after taking turns to give Raul a hug, and then taking a seat with Jaymes around the table.
“In the garden on his phone, checking in with staff,” said Martin, pouring them both coffee. “Ever since he stepped out of the rat race, six months ago, he’s been helping run the shops. Probably a hangover from his frenetic life in the corporate world, but he thinks things will fall apart without him there for a day or two.”
Nathan felt Jaymes squeeze his shoulder.
“Sound familiar?” said Jaymes, to Nathan, and then to Martin. “Nathan’s having similar concerns about leaving his shop for the long weekend.”
Martin gave Nathan a grim smile and a sympathetic nod.
“I do understand. When we had only one shop, I used to be there all the time. Someone once likened the experience to the one new mothers and fathers have when they leave their kid in the care of someone else for the first time. Feels almost like a betrayal. And they spend the whole time either staring at their phones, waiting for a call or a message, to hear the worst, or phoning and checking in far too often.”
“I promise not to do that,” said Nathan, mainly to Jaymes.
“Lord knows what Gallagher’s going to be like when the television crew turn up and start clumping through the house, moving furniture around. Thank goodness he’s temporarily moving out.”
“He won’t be here?” said Nathan, horrified. “What if they break anything?”
“I’ll be here to keep an eye on things. And moreover, everything’s covered by their insurance. I’ve already had the more precious items moved into storage. Not taking any chances. But they’re talking about starting at the crack of dawn and doing a couple of late night shoots. Being isolated here, we’re not disturbing any neighbours. But Gallagher’s a light enough sleeper at the best of times. So he’s moving into the flat above our high street shop for the month until they’re finished.”
“You know, maybe allowing them to use my place is not such a good idea,” said Nathan, to Jaymes.
“Martin and Gallagher’s house is going to be used as my character’s home, and features in a lot of episodes—eight in total,” said Clifton, who had finished his call, and finally joined their conversation. “Whereas your place will only be used in one, and then only briefly. As the location of one of the witnesses. You won’t get anywhere near the same disturbance or upheaval as Martin, and if what I heard is correct, the shot will be done and dusted in a day—on a Sunday. Don’t worry Nate, there’s no way Giorgio would have agreed to let them interfere during business hours. Because he knows if he did, I’d be looking for a new manager.”
While Clifton had been talking, Gallagher walked through the conservatory doors and bent to give Jaymes a hug. After doing the same to Nathan, he thumped himself down next to Marin and glanced around quizzically.
“What did I miss?”
“Nothing, dear,” said Martin, patting his partner on the thigh. “How are they doing back at the shop? Not burnt the place down yet, I take it.”
“On the contrary. This very morning they’ve sold the Victorian dining table, the extendable one.”
“Goodness me. We’ve had that piece hanging around for, what, eighteen months? How much did they discount?” asked Marin, clearly impressed.
“Nope. Full price,” said Gallagher. “Two and a half grand.”
“For one table?” asked Nathan.
“I’m guessing it’s not just any old dining table,” said Jaymes.
“You’re absolutely right, old man. This one’s a showpiece. Built around the end of the eighteenth century, this beauty extends into a twelve feet table, but unlike modern contemporaries, has amazing workmanship; moulded edge, canted corners together with a winding handle and mechanism, and removable leaves used for the extended table. The Victorians loved to entertain, but they also liked to save space when they could.”
“At some point, I’d love to come and have a look around your shop,” said Jaymes.
“Looking for something in particular?” asked Martin.
“Just interested,” said Jaymes, and Nathan felt sure he was the only one to notice the slight colouring in his cheeks. “I don’t have my own place. Tend to be more of a nomad with my job. But I’d certainly be interested in seeing some of the types of furniture craftsmen have created.”
“Maybe we can do that Sunday,” said Martin. “Once everything’s been settled here. Now, back to today. We’re having a barbecue this evening, even though the weather’s a little cold. Nice and informal. Gallagher’s never happier than when he’s conducting his symphony over the barbecue, waving tongs around like the true maestro he is. We’ve been prepping all morning. We also have these amazing free-standing gas heaters, tall aluminium and stylish, too, we can set up on the patio to keep everyone warm. Raul and Clifton are in charge of the drinks trolley and I’ll be playing fetch for them all.”
“What about us?” asked Nathan.
“You, my dear boys, are here to relax, have a good time, and let us spoil you,” said Gallagher, before casting a brief smirk at Jaymes. “Oh, and you’re on washing up duty later. But don’t worry too much. We’ve just had a brand new dishwasher installed.”
“In the meantime,” said Martin, glancing at his watch. “It’s almost three. Did you have lunch yet?”
“We did. On the way here.”
“In which case, once you’ve finished your coffee, why don’t I show you up to your room, let you have some personal space to rest and freshen up. That’ll give us time to get things started down here. And then we’ll all meet in the garden at six for drinks. How does that sound?”
Martin dropped Clifton and Raul off first, and then led Nathan and Jaymes to a small, cosy bedroom overlooking the garden. With yellow and grey themed walls, a steel framed bed housed a thick double mattress, covered in a simple grey quilt patterned with lemon yellow embroidered flowers.
“It’s a little on the small side, but this one has a beautiful view and its own bathroom off the door in the corner. There’s a jug of drinking water on the sideboard and towels in the bathroom. Make yourselves at home.”
Once Martin had left them, and after Nathan had used the bathroom, he emerged to find an amused Jaymes in socked feet stretched out in the bed.
“Come and try the bed out.”
Nathan prised off his shoes and jumped onto the bed next to Jaymes causing the mattress to bounce and recoil deeply, the springs groaning and wheezing loudly like a braying donkey. Both of them laughed aloud.
“Unless you want us to wake the whole house, I think sex is off the menu this weekend,” said Nathan, after leaning in and kissing Jaymes.
“Aw,” said Jaymes. “We could be quiet.”
“When are you ever quiet? And besides, this bed can’t help itself.”
After chuckling softly, they both lay still for a moment, staring up at the ceiling.
“On the way down,” said Jaymes. “When you found my health check, were you going to ask if we could ditch the condoms?”
“What?” said Nathan, rolling onto his side to look at Jaymes, shock registering on his face. He most definitely had not put that particular two and two together. “No, Jaymes. I wouldn’t do that to you. I know you’ve been hurt before and would never push you into doing anything you didn’t want to do. Most of all, I want you to feel safe, to be able to trust me.”
“I do trust you, Nate. That’s the point.” Jaymes turned to take in Nathan. “And you know how much I hate the damned things.”
Nathan hesitated. More than anyone he had ever met, he trusted Jaymes. But conceding on the condoms would take their relationship to a new level, a relationship already doomed to end.
“Let’s have this conversation again when we get back to Crumbington, shall we?”
Which is what they agreed to before Jaymes pulled Nathan over, kissed him and gathered him into a hug. Before long, both had fallen asleep and Nathan roused first to late afternoon light through the window and a faint smell of food cooking. Checking his watch, he saw the time as five-thirty. Rousing Jaymes, they took turns to shower quickly and changed into warm clothes, before joining the others already in the garden.
Martin and Gallagher had set up comfortable cushioned rattan furniture just beyond the conservatory, four tall pyramid-type heaters on a low setting arranged behind the chairs, and casting heat and light over them all. Soft music played through a Bluetooth speaker on the low table, the only sound disturbing the peaceful evening in the backwoods. Clifton already sat there, looking fresh and ready for his close-up, legs crossed elegantly at the knee, a tall aquamarine cocktail in one hand, an arm slung over the back of the settee. As promised, Gallagher held court over the huge barbecue, a white chef’s hat worn largely for decoration, while Martin stood beside him, a tall glass of something opaque in one hand, frowning down critically at the grilling fare.
“What is your poison?” called Raul, who had just handed Gallagher a bottle of beer, and headed back to the drinks trolley.
“I’ll have whatever Gallagher’s drinking. How about you, Nate?” said Jaymes.
“I can’t believe you let him call you Nate. You used to hate that,” said Clifton, taking a sip from his drink.
“He can call me anything he wants,” said Nathan, placing a hand on the back of Jaymes’ neck. “As long as he cooks me breakfast every so often—among other things.”
“He’ll have a beer, too,” said Jaymes, wisely not getting dragged into the conversation.
While they sat together—Raul and Martin eventually joining them, leaving Gallagher to the cooking—Clifton explained how the film crew would set up, where they would be stationed and exactly how intrusive the whole intervention could be. He also did a great job of selling the excitement surrounding the experience, and by the end, Nathan had relaxed about the idea. Afterwards, he announced the good news about the pilot being warmly received by the network and not only commissioning the full series of eight episodes, but fully expecting to have a second season. Casting had worked furiously to get all the characters posts filled. Giorgio, he explained, had invited many of them for the drinks party on Saturday evening, something even Clifton had no idea about. Just as Gallagher brought over the first platter piled with barbecued food, at around six-thirty, Nathan’s phone chimed in his pocket.
“Fingal,” he said with an anxious glance at Jaymes. “He wants to FaceTime.”
“Don’t worry, Nate. He’s probably just checking in.”
Without another word, Nathan jumped up and marched into the centre of the darkening garden to take the call. Fingal’s laughing face filled the frame.
“Bumper day today, Mr Fresher. We’ve all been fairly rushed off our feet. Couple of customers asked after you, so I told them you’d taken a well-deserved break. Seriously though, Nathan, you’ve got a nice little outfit going on here. Although you’re missing a trick or two, could do with tightening up a few loose ends, so to speak. We’ll have a little chat when you come back next week. I’m doing some other work Monday and Tuesday, but I’ll drop by and see you Wednesday, if that’s okay?”
“Of course it’s okay,” said Nathan, Wednesday being a quieter day, they would have more time to talk. But right then, something else had caught his attention. “Is that Arthur in the background? What happened? Is there something wrong with the ovens?”
“No, nothing’s wrong. I’m taking him and Molly out for a drink and a bite to eat.”
Nathan felt his face flush with guilt. In all the years the two of them had worked for him, he’d never thought to invite them out for a drink or a meal. Yes, he’d given them generous bonuses over Christmas and for their holidays, but he’d never considered taking them out and socialising with them. Already Fingal was proving the better man, the better boss.
“Save the receipt from the first round and I’ll reimburse you Wednesday. And tell them both I’m grateful for all their hard work.”
“They already know that, Nathan, but thanks for the drink. We’ll be sure to toast your health. How are things there? It seems pretty dark.”
“Oh no, we’re having a barbecue in the garden, so I stepped away from the conversation. Sun’s almost gone now. But it’s going really well here. And thanks again, Fingal.”
“Any time, my boy. Any time.”
“Let me guess,” said Jaymes, as Nathan sat back next to him. In his absence, Gallagher had piled the small table with ribs, burgers, steaks, sausages, baked potatoes, and an assortment of salads. “Nobody died. Everything worked out fine.”
“Fingal says they had a really good day,” said Nathan, taking his bottle of beer back from Jaymes. “He’s taking the team out for drinks.”
“And how does that make you feel?”
“Surplus to requirements.”
“Come on, Nate. Don’t beat yourself up. Anyone can shine for a day or two. You seem to manage the same fifty-two weeks of the year. Fingal has someone like you who understands and appreciates his efforts. Who do you have? Give yourself a break, baby.”
Once again Jaymes had nailed Nathan’s mood, and he sighed deeply before leaning into Jaymes’ body heat. How many busy Fridays and Saturdays had Nathan managed over the past years? Hundreds. Instead of dwelling on the thought, he took a good tug on his bottled beer and helped himself to food.
Throughout the evening, everyone took turns to tell stories. After a certain amount of coaxing from Gallagher, Clifton let on about the storyline of the pilot of his television show, but not before swearing them all to secrecy. Afterwards, Raul talked briefly about his upcoming schedule, but then began to grill Jaymes and Nathan about their individual work. Eventually Martin and Gallagher took over the reins.
“I’m really enjoying this,” whispered Jaymes, later on, as Gallagher told another comical story from his days living out of a suitcase while working in the corporate world. “Nice to think of Martin and Gallagher as our friends.”
Strangely enough, Nathan’s attention snagged on the word ‘our’ and he stiffened for a moment.
“What’s the matter?”
“It just—makes me sad when I’m reminded of how little time we have. Would be nice if we could build more things together, but you’ll be off in June, and I’ll be back to my usual solitary day-to-day.”
“I’m only in Malaysia, Nate. Not on Mars. And I’m sure to be back from time to time.”
“I know. I suppose it’s just my usual over-dramatic way of saying I’m going to miss you.”
This time it was Jaymes’ turn to fall silent, staring off into the night. Nathan felt bad then, and joined in the banter with Gallagher until Jaymes’ attention drifted back. Later on, noticing him yawn a couple of times, he pulled Jaymes’ head down onto his shoulder, and wrapped an arm around him, getting a rumbled growl of approval from Jaymes in return. Tonight, sitting there surrounded by friends, with Jaymes glued to his side, Nathan felt like the luckiest person in the world.
Enjoy the time you have, he told himself. Tomorrow can wait.
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