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"How long have we been friends?"
Adam Lancaster studied the half-inch scar just below his left thumb. It was faint, but it was there. His best buddy, Rob McKeith, had a matching one. They'd cut themselves with Rob's pocketknife when they were only eight years old and pledged to be friends forever. "A long time."
He didn't look at Rob, who was kicked back in one of the two comfortable brown leather club chairs flanking the natural stone fireplace. The flames, which had been crackling loudly when he'd arrived a half hour ago, were now a low flicker. Adam was seated in the matching chair.
He knew Rob would be studying him with his vivid indigo eyes, the worried frown on his face creating several deep lines between his brows. His shoulder-length silky black hair was pulled back and contained by a leather tie, which only served to emphasize his features. Rob could have been a model, if he'd chosen, instead of an architect. His face was all angles and planes, harsh in some light. His lips could thin when he was angry. They smiled just as easily.
Rob was also patient and would wait indefinitely until Adam looked at him. Adam wasn't ready for this conversation. Instead, he studied the Christmas tree in the corner. It was a huge Douglas fir, covered in hundreds of colored lights. He liked them better than the white lights many people favored now. They reminded him of his childhood. Of happy times when he wasn't so conflicted about his life.
That was part of the price one paid for becoming an adult, he supposed. Self-awareness could be a bitch sometimes.
Adam picked up the heavy crystal glass and took a sip. The fine scotch burned slightly as it slid down his throat to his belly. Rob always had impeccable taste in liquor. The ice clinked on the side of the glass as he set it back down on the coffee table.
The entire room was festive without being overdone. Fresh boughs lined the fireplace mantle, scenting the air. Red and white candles sat in tall clear holders, strategically placed, flickering and adding their light to that from the tree. An antique Santa sat on the edge of the hearth. He knew it was all Shayla's doing.
Shayla and Rob had married a few months ago. He loved them both but being around them was more difficult than he'd anticipated. They were so happy and he was so
It was worse because he lived in the house next door. He and Rob had bought the several acres of land years ago, always planning on building their homes here, raising their families. Rob had designed both homes, tailoring them to each man's individual wants and needs, and Adam's construction company had built them. They were on a wooded lot on a quiet country road, close to town, but giving them the privacy they'd both wanted.
Now that privacy was making his life a living hell.
A small pile of presents was stacked under the tree. The ones he'd brought over were sitting in front of the resta bottle of scotch for Adam and imported chocolates for Shayla. Not much of a gift for his best friend and his wife, but Adam hadn't known what else to buy. Anything else he'd thought of was too personal.
Adam continued to study the Christmas tree, ignoring his friend. He knew Rob was leading up to something and was very afraid he knew what it was about.
His heart was racing and he was starting to sweat even though he was wearing a cotton shirt and not a sweater. He'd put on the red shirt his sister had given him last Christmas because he'd figured it was festive.