As the weekend progresses, Nathan chills even further--but trouble is never far away.
Despite being absolutely certain he’d lie awake all night worrying if Fingal would show up on time Saturday morning to let Arthur in, or whether Polly would remember to wake and open the front door for Molly, Nathan slept remarkably soundly, waking to a bright but chill morning with Jaymes’ warm body wrapped around him. If anything, the deep sleep had left him liberated: refreshed and, in some fundamental way, changed.
Turning on his side, his eye caught on a spider’s web outside the bedroom window, where a trapped fly struggled to get free. Even with no spider in sight, the poor fly panicked until, suddenly, a gust of wind together with the efforts of the fly managed to set the poor insect free. Nathan smiled into Jaymes’ shoulder.
Breakfast in the farmhouse felt familiar, even though he’d never stayed there before. Gallagher turned out to be another Jaymes; an annoyingly cheerful morning person, something Nathan—despite his endless morning routines—never had been. Chirpy, his father would have called them. Nathan assumed Raul and Clifton had not yet risen, their places at the breakfast table sitting empty. Like Nathan, Martin slumped over the breakfast table in the kitchen reading in silence from an array of morning newspapers and cradling a mug of hot coffee, occasionally staring zombie-like either at the animated news on the small television monitor, or out through the conservatory to the glorious day rising.
Jaymes helped Gallagher prepare breakfast, the two moving around each other seamlessly, laughing animatedly like old friends or family, and chatting about whatever popped into their heads. At one time, when a burst of raucous laughter came sudden and loud, Martin straightened and stiffened, appearing to waken, before peering wearily over at Nathan and, without speaking, rolling his eyes. Nathan couldn’t help chuckling.
“Look at us. Couple of old grouches.”
“I prefer to skip mornings. Need undisturbed meditation time to face the day.”
“Ditto. Oh my God!”
Right then, something caught Nathan’s attention, as the distant but striking figures of Clifton and Raul, the former in scarlet running gear, the latter in an aquamarine tracksuit, came bounding effortlessly through the trees at the far end of the field.
“Lord save me from fitness freaks,” groaned Martin, spotting them too. “While I’ll be overjoyed to take a brisk early morning stroll later on—after a long, hot shower, of course—if you ever find me like that, out jogging in the hours of early morning in designer sportswear, either have me put away or put down.”
Everyone laughed, Gallagher and Jaymes stopping to single out the two bright figures heading towards the house.
“That’s why they’re both in such good shape. And look how happy they are together,” said Gallagher, returning to the stove to stir a steaming pot. “Shame about Clifton’s predicament right now.”
“What predicament?” asked Nathan.
“Gal, we’re not supposed to say anything,” said Martin, turning around to chastise his partner.
“Oh, for goodness’ sake. Everyone’s going to know soon enough. I’m surprised he hasn’t told you already, Nathan. I thought you two were thick as thieves.”
“Used to be,” said Nathan, looking to Jaymes. “A long time ago. But a lot of water, and all that.”
Martin and Gallagher exchanged a glance, before Martin began talking, while Gallagher kept a watchful eye on the distant figures running towards the house.
“When he first got to the States and started college, Clifton got sucked in by a much older, ambitious student who had dreams of becoming an indie film director. This guy obviously saw something special in Clifton. Not sure how serious their romantic liaison was, exactly, but their relationship became physical. Because without Clifton’s knowledge, and certainly without his permission, the bastard had spy cameras set up all over his bedroom, and recorded a number of their amorous encounters. At the beginning of the year, one of them popped up on a gay porn site. Of course, Giorgio had it taken down as soon as he got wind, but not before hundreds of downloads occurred. A couple of newspapers threatened to run the story, but he managed to shut those down too. Since then, Giorgio has managed to get the rest of the material from this guy and threatened court action, but the original is still out there. The thing is—not that either of us have seen anything—Giorgio says the film is quite disturbing, appears as though Clifton is being coerced against his will. And Clifton won’t speak about it, either. The dilemma now is whether they hope the story dies down and goes away, or whether Clifton makes a public statement. Either way, his professional career is going to be affected.”
“Poor Clifton,” said Jaymes, grimacing. “How old would he have been?”
“Probably eighteen,” said Nathan. “He left England just before his eighteenth birthday.”
Nathan remembered the occasion well, and to this day still had his unopened birthday present tucked away in the bottom of his wardrobe.
“He’s probably worried because Raul’s retiring,” said Nathan. “Which leaves him as the main income earner at a time when they’re bringing children into the world.”
“Hang on a minute,” said Jaymes, stopping and turning to them. “From what he tells me, Raul’s only retiring from competitive sport, he’s not going into a retirement home. He’ll still do public appearances and sponsorships. He’s even been approached to do some coaching.”
“Hmm, good point,” said Gallagher.
“And plenty of celebrities have been caught on film either naked or having sex, and still managed to weather the storm. He should come clean,” said Jaymes. “Might even get him some juicier roles than playing cardboard cut-out characters in kids’ movies. According to my cousin Polly, that Snow Prince movie was nothing short of sugar-coated dog poop wrapped up with a pink ribbon—”
“In here, guys,” called Gallagher, holding up a coffee pot, looking out towards the conservatory doors, where Clifton and Raul had just strolled in after their exercise and were prising off their running shoes.
“Well saved, dear,” said Martin, grinning at his partner. “So after we’ve all had a good breakfast, I thought we’d take a stroll down to the river—although looks as though the boys have already been—and then we can take the five-mile stroll down into the local village, where we have a couple of old pubs. Giorgio is driving here with caterers to set up in the garden for the drinks party, which starts around six-thirty. I’ve given him a set of keys to the house, but I suppose we should aim to get back around four.”
“Spoke to him this morning. He and I need to chat, too, but he’s promised it won’t be a late one tonight,” said Clifton, entering the kitchen, wiping a towel around the back of his neck. Raul appeared behind his right shoulder and winked at Martin and Nathan. “Thanks for agreeing, gents. I finally get to meet the whole cast, while still have you guys around to talk to in case anyone gets too intense.”
“And then the rest of the hordes descend upon us tomorrow morning, deep joy,” grumbled Gallagher.
“What time do you guys need to leave tomorrow?” asked Martin, his voice aimed at Jaymes and Nathan.
“Late afternoon?” said Jaymes, with a quick glance Nathan’s way. “What do you think?”
Nathan nodded in response. After catching Polly up on their weekend, they would still have Sunday evening to themselves.
“Excellent. In which case, you can chat to the crew as they set up, and then we’ll leave Clifton and Raul to it, and head into Oxford, to our shop. After that we’ll have a late lunch and then set you guys on your way.”
At eleven, Nathan stood in the middle of the fallow field behind the house, closed his eyes and drew a deep breath of country air. Despite a freshness in the air, he could feel the days were getting warmer. Spring had arrived. A sense of liberation overwhelmed him, which grew into contentment when he sensed someone familiar stand close to him. An arm reached around his shoulders and tightened, and a kiss accompanied by a cologne he knew only too well landed on his cheek. Nothing could stop the smile of happiness forming on his face. He opened his eyes to a grinning Jaymes, before turning back toward the turnstile, where gentleman Martin helped Gallagher through a gap in the border of hedgerows concealing the beautifully manicured lawn of their back garden.
“Enjoying yourself?” asked Jaymes.
“Is it that obvious? If only we could stop time.”
Once again, Nathan had only meant the remark light-heartedly, but Jaymes’ face clouded.
“I’m sorry—” said Nathan, not wanting to spoil the moment.
“No, don’t be sorry. I wish the same thing, I really do. I should tell you more often, but I’ve truly enjoyed these past few months, especially—you know—being with you. But life moves on, Nate. Which makes these moments all the more precious.”
Nathan stood still without replying, not wanting to spoil the moment. But in his mind, a part of him had begun to wish neither of them were bound by their own particular self-imposed rules. Nathan by the routine of his bakery, and Jaymes by the global demands of his job. A sudden burst of Raul’s raucous laughter brought him out of his moment of melancholy.
Once everyone had gathered, Martin set the pace at a gentle stroll. Following the meandering river path along the course of the Grendle, they wove their way through trees and rough grass, the river always on their left, towards the small spire of a church indicating the town centre. Under cover of trees, they broke off into pairs along the small path, Nathan asking Raul about his future plans. In front of them, Martin and Clifton led the way, heads bobbing together, while Jaymes and his new best friend Gallagher, walking behind, chatted and laughed aloud like old friends.
Two hours later, barely meeting another soul along the way, they touched the outskirts of the town and entered a local pub through the back garden. After quickly scoping out the almost empty interior, they squashed themselves around a small table in an alcove near the open fireplace. Odours of burning wood and pine cones mixed with those of old English ale and pies baking: the true essence of a British pub. Martin—who clearly knew the landlord by the number of greetings and smiles he received from bar staff—brought drinks and organised a pub lunch for them all. For most of the time, they chatted undisturbed, but as the pub grew busier, someone recognised Clifton, and he had to endure a round of autograph-signing and selfies with a group of young giggly girls and their equally giggly mothers, while the rest of the troupe looked on, not bothering to suppress their amusement.
At one point, as they sat next to each other, Jaymes leant in and spoke softly into Nathan’s ear.
“The walk here was torture,” he whispered.
Nathan turned, concerned, but Jaymes had his usual playful smile on his face.
“All the time Gallagher was talking to me, I was staring at your bum in those tight jeans, thinking of all the things I’d like to do to you, knowing I can’t because of that bloody asthmatic bed.”
Nathan laughed quietly, before whispering back to Jaymes.
“If you play your cards right—and promise not to make too much noise—I might give you a blow job later on tonight.”
By the time they clambered back over the garden turnstile at four-thirty—a little the worse for wear—the garden had already been transformed. Giorgio had spared no expense on catering and decoration. Row upon row of sparkling lighting had been switched on, draped from hedges around the borders. Tall tables with crisp white tablecloths supplied by the catering company had been arranged in rows around the garden while the comfortable low seating from the night before had been stowed away somewhere. A smorgasbord of colourful and lavish finger food—currently shrink-wrapped—had already begun to fill one of the long tables, while a fully stocked bar had been set up in front of the conservatory doors.
Nathan and Jaymes decided to escape to their room, largely to stay out of the way of the commotion, but also relax a little before freshening up and changing. As Nathan stood under the shower—one of those set into the a low bath tub—letting the day’s exertions run off him, he heard the shower curtain draw back and turned to see a gloriously naked Jaymes join him. Ever since they had been together—a short time really—Nathan’s heart gave a small leap at seeing Jaymes’ body, his thick thighs and defined chest, and cock already at half-mast.
“Thought perhaps we could shower together, conserve water.”
“Among other things.”
“Among other things.”
Within second, they clung to each other, their mouths seeking out each other’s tongue. When Jaymes’ right hand stroked down his back stopping at the cleft between Nathan’s buttocks, Nathan pulled his mouth away from Jaymes to get his attention.
“My answer is yes,” he said.
“Your answer to what?” said Jaymes, his eyebrows crinkling adorably in confusion.
“My answer to your question last night. About ditching the condoms.”
“What changed your mind?”
“A couple of things you said. About trust. And about every moment being precious.”
“Okay. Tomorrow night then? When we get home?”
“Why wait. Lube’s already here in the tub.”
Jaymes laughed with surprise and reached down for the tube.
“So you came prepared?”
“Did I not tell you I was a boy scout?”
After Jaymes claimed Nathan’s mouth again, he turned him around, his fingers constantly working him. At the sound of the tube snapping open, cold lotion joined experienced fingers, probing deeper, stroking his sweet spot. Nathan kept backing onto the fingers, his erection straining painfully, eager for release.
No sooner had the words escaped him than Jaymes positioned himself at Nathan’s entrance and slowly began to enter. As always, the initial breach burned but soon Jaymes claimed him, buried completely inside, stopping with his arms wrapped around Nathan’s chest.
“Oh God, Nathan. You’re beautiful.”
After a few seconds of savouring the moment, Jaymes began the push and pull, one hand reaching down for Nathan’s cock, stroking gently while Nathan braced his hands against the bathroom wall. Eventually Jaymes’ pace becoming erratic until Nathan could hold on no longer and came over Jaymes’ hand. Jaymes came seconds later, filling Nathan and groaning loudly. They stood that way, under the spray, for a full five minutes, neither of them moving, even though Nathan’s legs trembled.
Only as they dressed did something occur to Nathan, and when it did, his faced transformed in shock, tears welling in his eyes. Jaymes noticed immediately and came over to him, held Nathan’s head in his hands.
“What’s the matter, baby?”
“I—I haven’t phoned the shop all day. To check on them. Not once. Didn’t even occur to me.”
Jaymes smiled and pulled Nathan into a hug.
“And nobody called you. So everything’s okay with the world. Did you check for any messages?”
“No, not even that.”
“Well, you’ll have one from Polly saying she’s borrowing a bottle of our wine. She’s been invited to a party and forgot to go shopping. Some excuse.”
When they joined Gallagher, Raul and Martin later—Clifton already in deep conversation at one end of the garden with Giorgio—Gallagher gave Nathan a quizzical look.
“Someone’s looking fresh-faced. Did you two enjoy your together time?”
Jaymes grinned and looked away, while Nathan felt sure his cheeks had reddened.
“We did, thank you. Anything we can do to help?”
“Nothing to do, dear boy. Giorgio’s people have everything in hand,” said Martin. “Gallagher volunteered to do a shift at the bar.”
“I won’t know anyone, so I thought I’d make myself useful,” said Gallagher, in his defence.
“Join the club,” said Nathan.
“If you need a hand at any time, just shout,” said Jaymes.
Once guests from the cast begun to arrive in dribs and drabs, Nathan started to feel the cold, and not wanting to disturb the fun, snuck away with the excuse of using the bathroom. In his bedroom, he sorted through his overnight bag until he found the woollen crew neck pullover he’d wisely packed.
“Not disturbing, am I?” came a familiar voice.
Clifton stood in the doorway, smiling his heart-melting smile, which had no doubt won him so many Twitter followers.
“I’m just coming down. Needed another layer.”
“No rush, is there? Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves down there.”
Clifton came into the room and sat on the edge of the bed, watching and admiring as Nathan pulled the sweater on. Nathan raked fingers through his hair using the wall mirror and glanced at Clifton’s reflection.
“Something I’ve never told you, Nate. I don’t think I’d have survived childhood if it hadn’t been for you. You’ve no idea how much your friendship meant to me.”
Friendship. Nathan considered whatever they had together as a lot more than friendship.
“Actually, I think I do.”
“No, I don’t think you do. I was one helluva lonely kid before I met you.”
Nathan turned at that remark, folded his arms over his chest and leant back against the wall.
“You? Lonely? You were the most popular kid in school. And if you’re playing the ‘only child’ card, then newsflash, Cliff. We were both only kids.”
“Except you had a family.”
“We both had a family. And if my memory serves me right, and your personal blog is accurate and anything to go by, you still do.”
“That’s not what I meant,” said Clifton, appearing uncharacteristically unnerved. “Even in England, my father was never around, always away on business. Tell me the truth, did you ever meet him?”
Nathan had to search his memory.
“Only once that I remember. At a school parents evening.”
At the time, Nathan thought of Clifton’s father as the coolest dad on the planet, a high-powered businessman who provided only the very best for his son; designer clothes, portable state-of-the-art laptop as well as a home computer, off-road and multi-geared racing bikes, hip skateboards, branded football boots, own bedroom and bathroom in an incredible house on the outskirts of town. And unlike his own father, Mr Hogmore senior did not dole out daily chores, or expect his son to help with his business, or badger his son constantly about getting the best school grades and finishing his homework.
“And you remember my mother. She only came to the football matches when your mother was there. And most of that time she spent getting advice about shoes, handbags and makeup. She was never there for me. Not really. They only became interested in me in LA when I started getting callbacks for commercials and television shows.”
“Well. You didn’t turn out too bad, from what me and the rest of the world can see. And you’re now married with twins on the way.”
Clifton heaved a heavy sigh and looked away.
“Problem?” asked Nathan.
“Just the pressure. Bad enough right now, with the world watching everything either of us does. But bringing up kids as well? We’re going to be front and centre in the public spotlight.”
“So set a good example. Other gay celebrities are bringing up kids and, from what I can tell, doing a fantastic job of it. Follow their lead.”
“Sometimes, the problem isn’t the present. Sometimes, things in the past come back to haunt you.”
Nathan said nothing, didn’t want to let on he knew the dilemma Clifton faced. Towards the end of the story, Clifton looked genuinely defeated, and Nathan’s heart gave a tug. Without prompting, he went over, sat beside him on the bed, thrust an arm around his shoulders and hugged him.
“Thing is, I’m getting advice from all corners. Take the bastard to court, which will end up being long and messy; give one sympathetic tabloid or another an exclusive; keep quiet and hope it all goes away—”
“Because that one always works.”
“What do you think I should do?”
“Giorgio seems to be a level-headed guy. What does he say?”
“What, you mean after he rips the guy’s heart out? He’s all for coming clean.”
“Well, I’m no judge in these kinds of things, but I’ve always found honestly to be the best policy.”
“Whereas my past track record tells you that I prefer to keep my mouth shut and run away.”
Clifton turned to Nathan then and they shared a brief sympathetic moment and a gentle chuckle, something that once upon a time used to feel familiar.
“I do understand now, Cliff. And I sympathise. Doesn’t make things any easier, but I do realise you had no choice. Not back then, anyway. With this shitstorm-waiting-to-happen, you do have a choice.”
After their eyes met and lingered, Clifton pushed his lips towards Nathan’s, but Nathan turned his head in time so the kiss landed on his cheek instead, nice and platonic. Clifton laughed softly into the kiss, and slowly nodded his head in realisation. As Nathan released Clifton from the hug, he thought he noticed something moving away from the doorway, catching in his peripheral vision. Or had it simply been a shadow cast by the subdued lamp-lighting in the old house? When, for a second, he considered the person being Jaymes, he went cold, wondering how badly Jaymes would feel accidentally spying Nathan and Clifton caught in a hug. Until the sound of Jaymes’ distant but instantly recognisable laughter drifted up from the hubbub of guests down in the garden, accompanied by Gallagher’s cheerful chuckle. No way would Jaymes have had time to eavesdrop and then join Gallagher, if indeed there had been a person standing there at all.
“Come on,” said Clifton, standing, oblivious to Nathan’s thoughts. “Sounds like more of the cast are arriving. Better go down and join the merry throng.”
By eight that evening, with sparkly lighting surrounding them and cute portable lamps placed on each of the tables, around eighty to a hundred people gathered, some recognisable faces. Clifton, of course, was in his element, the star of the show with Raul on his arm, flitting from one bunch of guests to the next like a social butterfly. Giorgio introduced a couple of people, but for most of the time, Nathan was more than happy to stay by Jaymes’ side, with Martin and Gallagher occasionally joining them for a few moments of respite.At one point, when Gallagher disappeared to help at the bar dragging a complaining Martin with him, Jaymes and Nathan found themselves alone again. But not for long.
“Jimmy? Jimmy Fischer?” came a deep, clipped British voice. “Is that you?”
Nathan had never seen the smile vanish from Jaymes’ face like it did then, when his partner turned stony-faced towards the voice. Nathan turned too, to witness a handsome dark-haired man around the same age as Jaymes, but nearer Nathan’s height, togged out in a black dress suit, white shirt and black bow tie. A large gold signet ring adorned the pinky finger of the left hand, one elegantly balancing a full martini glass. Undoubtedly an actor, the man had perfected the pose and the seductive half-smile, and radiated the same kind of self-confidence Clifton had mastered.
“Lawrence. How have you been?” said Jaymes, with none of his usual warmth or enthusiasm.
“Fine, fine,” said the man, slapping Jaymes’ upper arm, an action Jaymes accepted impassively without even the slightest flinch or acknowledgement. “Fancy meeting you here, of all places.”
“Yes, fancy,” said Jaymes, about to add something more, when Gallagher’s smiling face appeared in the midst of their group.
“Jaymes, old man. Would you be a good sport and give me a hand. Martin’s had to go and sort out a small parking problem out front, and I’m a little overwhelmed.”
“With pleasure,” said Jaymes, absently handing his bottle of beer to Nathan, giving him a quick apologetic grin and barely noticeable shake of the head, before moving off without even acknowledging the new arrival. Nathan felt a twinge of annoyance, especially when he noticed the man’s predatory stare lingering on his partner’s departing figure. For a moment, he thought he might follow Jaymes. Certain Jaymes did not want to speak to him, whoever he may be, he quickly fired off a question.
“So how do you know Jaymes?”
“Sorry, what?” came the man’s—Lawrence’s—voice, caught off guard and a touch rattled.
When Nathan repeated the question, Lawrence’s gaze eventually swung back his way. After a quick assessment of Nathan’s face and attire, he appeared to relax into a bored insouciance, the debonaire persona evaporating, probably realising Nathan was nobody he needed to impress.
“Old friends,” said Lawrence, peering over Nathan’s shoulder, at other, more interesting people gathered in the garden. “Go back a long way.”
“You worked together?”
“Sorry, what?” Lawrence’s eyebrows had wrinkled when his attention swung back to Nathan. “Uh, no. Studied together. Look, who exactly are you? Are you with the technical crew?”
“No, I’m a guest of Martin and Gallagher, the owners of the house.”
“I see. Well, if you’ll excuse me, there are people I need to—”
“And Jaymes is my partner,” said Nathan, with some satisfaction. The statement finally managed to get the man’s attention.
This time, Lawrence turned his full regard to Nathan and scrutinised him thoroughly.
“No, the other type.”
This time the man’s lips pursed, his gaze examining Nathan in a thoroughly unpleasant way.
“So you’re his latest temp?” said Lawrence, taking a sip from his drink. “Figures.”
Nathan hadn’t been expecting the remark, but quickly recovered.
“I’m sorry? His what?”
“Haven’t you worked that one out yet? He may work with plants and trees, but Jaymes Fischer does not put down roots. Not for anyone. Temporary liaisons is his modus operandi. Short term flings, whirlwind romances—if you can call them that—and temporary lovers. Mr Hit and Run, we used to call him in college. Dips his foot in the mating pool, so to speak, and then he’s up and off to pastures new. Without batting an eyelid or giving a second thought to the poor smitten sod he leaves behind.”
“Jaymes has been thoroughly decent.”
“Of course he has. But unless he’s changed—which I doubt very much—he’s usually got some assignment or another tucked away up his sleeve, leading him off to Timbuktu in a month or two’s time—”
“Oh,” came the humoured, triumphant, and now annoying voice. “Malaysia this time, is it? And he’ll no doubt have a few more in the pipeline. Hope you haven’t planned on spending Christmas together. Can I give you a piece of tough advice?”
“I’d rather you didn’t—”
“Jaymes is clearly way out of your league. I don’t know how invested you are in him, but if you want to salvage whatever’s left of your heart, ditch him at the soonest opportunity. Love him as I do, the man leaves a trail of lost souls in his wake.”
Nathan had had enough. Placing both his wine glass and Jaymes’ bottle of beer onto the table, he thrust his hands into his trouser pockets.
“Lawrence, is it? I’m not sure how long ago you knew Jaymes, and, quite frankly, I don’t care. The man I’ve grown to know and love is a thoroughly decent human being. Moreover, he has been up front with me about his work travel from the very beginning. And as for your advice? As Oscar Wilde once said, and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘I always pass along good advice. It’s the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.’ Now if you’ll excuse me, there are far more interesting and likeable people here—”
“He hasn’t told you, has he?”
“Hasn’t told me what?”
“About one of his old flames who took his own life. Because of our dear Jimmy.”
“That’s a lie.”
“Is it? Why don’t you ask him? You clearly seem to think he’s so—”
“Oh my, God. It’s you, isn’t it?” came an excited woman’s voice, from behind Lawrence’s right shoulder. Nathan almost sighed audibly at the interruption and chance to escape. “It really is you.”
Like an instant facelift, Lawrence’s darkened visage brightened, his body inflating as he turned to greet the woman. Except her focus had not been on Lawrence, but on Nathan. Seeing this, Lawrence’s gaze became confused, swinging back and forth between the woman and Nathan.
“I—I’m sorry?” said Nathan, equally confused. “Do I know you?”
“Probably not, honey. But I certainly know you. You’re the naked baker, aren’t you? I wasn’t sure, but when I checked my phone. Phew. Talk about hot cross buns.”
The woman fanned her face with her free hand before holding the phone out to Nathan. There on the screen sat the picture of Nathan naked in the studio his backside on full display.
“Where did you get this?” asked Nathan, feeling himself reddening.
“Let me see,” said Lawrence, snatching the phone from Nathan. “My, my. Perhaps I do get what Jaymes sees in you, after all.”
Nathan ignored the man.
“Where did you get this picture? They’re not supposed to be published until June.”
“A friend forwarded a link from the internet. Are you going to be in the series? Oh, I’m Janet Montgomery, by the way. Playing one of the forensic pathologists. And you are?”
Nathan had been about to give his name without thinking, when he was saved by a second interruption, a hand landing on Lawrence’s shoulder.
“Larry, darling,” came an affected male voice. “We’ve been trying to find you. Duke and Poppy want to know if you need a little—ahem—freshening up, so to speak. They’re in the upstairs cloakroom.”
Without a backward glance, Lawrence turned away from Nathan and the woman. Before the woman had a chance to speak, Nathan excused himself and marched towards the house, anger still simmering. As soon as he found a quiet room, he pulled out his phone, quickly scanned the message from Polly, before thumbing through his contacts. He needed some answers.
As soon as he found the number for Arlene Killjoy, he pressed the dial button.
Thanks for reading.
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