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“Angus.”

Adam Le Ray’s voice pierces Angus McCain’s tough skin (metaphorically tough, his physical skin is actually surprisingly soft and creamy, as Adam knows through long experience). Angus tries to continue walking steadily towards the door, footsteps struggling to stay measured, but then he sighs and gives up.

“It’s for the best, Adam.” McCain’s voice is clipped and polished as usual, a complete contrast to the sighs and vulnerability and reckless abandon Adam (and only Adam) knows, in the dark of the night, the heat between the sheets. There is nevertheless a tiredness in his voice that he cannot quite disguise by using the public voice that deflects over-inquisitive journalists and scandal-seeking opposition alike.

“Best for whom?” They’ve been through this before, a hundred times, it seems, but they always end up in the same place: Adam following his heart, despite knowing the damage it could cause him and his career; Angus following his head, however much it pains him to do so. One heated exchange leads to another, and before they know it, they are lying in each other’s arms, satiated and satisfied, each believing they have persuaded the other. Well, not today, thinks Adam.

“Adam...it’s tidy for everyone if you marry her. If you don’t, we all face increasing scrutiny from all quarters. You know that.”

“Fine. All right.”

“What?” The surprise on his face and crack in his voice give Adam the smallest hint of victory. Clearly, Angus had never expected him to agree to this, despite his protestations to the contrary. Angus recovers himself quickly, however, and soon a small smirk rests on his lips. “Well then,” he shrugs helplessly, “shall I arrange the date with the Elms, then? How does June sound?”

Angus may be practised at lying, but two can play at that game. And he is an actor, after all. “June sounds wonderful. Thank you, Angus. You’ve been most helpful in allowing me to reach this decision. And she really is a wonderful girl.” He smiles thinly.

“I suppose this is farewell, then,” Angus says, fiddling with his tie. Ah yes. The tables have turned. Angus is the one thrown off balance now. Adam’s smile widens.

“No need to be so melodramatic, Angus, my dear. I’m sure we will meet again in due course.”

Angus nods and walks away, a lump in his throat. Adam turns around to hide the one in his.