Angelo had been visiting his lover in Long Island for seventeen years. Regular as clockwork, reliable as always, he would take a week’s holiday in March, June, September and December and make the long trip to spend some quality time with Dennis, a British ex-pat who loved all and everything about the good old US of A. Secretly, Angelo would have loved to escape from the clutches of an America that had become an alien concept to him over the years. If he could have achieved his dream, emigrating to the Highlands of Scotland and Dennis’s native home, he would have been one hundred percent happy.

Oh to be young again, to have the conviction that Dennis would be content with him no matter what, that he would move mountains for him. But Dennis had become old and set in his ways, refusing even to leave the small coastal town where he had set up home, paying a fortune for Angelo’s first class flights from San Francisco, just so that he could stay put. Sometimes, just sometimes, it would have been wonderful to open the front door of his second floor walk-up and see his favourite man in the world standing there with his battered Louis Vuitton luggage, with his arms outstretched waiting for a welcoming hug. But it had never happened yet, and never would.

Dennis felt the age-gap between him and his darling Angelo more keenly than he would care to admit, even to himself. Thirteen years was almost indecent, he believed, and even though a smattering of grey had begun to appear at his young lover’s formally jet black temples, he still ruefully believed himself to look like Angelo’s father, rather than his lover. He had no idea what Angelo saw in him. His young paramour was successful in his own right, was independent, didn’t need him, he was sure. There was no way he was going to confess to a fear of heights that had crippled him since childhood, since he had seen his father fall to his early death whilst clearing out the guttering after a particularly violent autumn storm. Angelo’s walk-up with its vast windows and balconies made him feel queasy even just looking at the photos, and after all, there was no way he would even step foot on a plane. Angelo, he just knew, would laugh at him and find a younger, more confident man to love if he ever found out.

Dennis sighed, his finger hovering over the screen of his iPad. Angelo was due to visit soon, he needed to make a decision. The image told him all that he needed to know. It would be perfect for the dressing room, just the right size, the perfect style to match the Shaker-built house that was his pride and enjoy. And besides, it would block out the view across the valley from his side of the bed. He could pretend he was on the ground floor, and that he was safe. He hit the ‘Enter’ button and watched as the transaction completed.

One day, maybe one day, he would explain. But not yet. Definitely not yet. He wanted Angelo to be one hundred percent happy with him for just a little bit longer.

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