Chapter 1

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The night air embraced him. Its cold fingers reached out and touched him with an honesty he found refreshing. The light from the glass doors cut through the blanket of darkness with its harsh glare and accompanying din, reminding him that he wasn't alone. Behind him, the room was brimming with glossy people, celebrities, rich A-listers and corporate types. The event was being hosted by some Finance corporation who was using it to paint themselves charitable and wholesome by donating the proceeds to the latest must-have cause. The tickets cost an astronomical amount and the motives were contrived but, unfortunately, he was still here. Everyone was smiling, drinking and laughing. Everyone except him, he was hiding.

The room, from which he'd fled, occupied the entire floor and had high ceilings, chandeliers and polished wood floors. The music came from a string quartet who had set up shop in the corner. It looked more like an art gallery, with multiple leather sofas, chairs and a bar, than an accountancy firms' function room. One whole wall was punctuated with floor to roof French doors with lace curtains blocking the million-dollar view. The doors led onto a long balcony that overlooked the park and the city lights.

He would have liked to take the time to admire the art that hung on the walls inside and the sculptures dotted around the open room, but that wasn't possible. Not now that the space was overflowing with men in expensive suits and women draped in dresses that cost more than they should given the amount of fabric employed. These people didn't stop to admire the art, they were too busy looking at their own reflections in the glass that framed the masterpieces. He knew this because he used to be one of them.

The night had called to him with its promise of solitude. He'd opened one of the French doors and was now pressed against the brickwork of the building taking in the view from the balcony. He wanted to leave but this view was spectacular, and Sam would give him 'that-look' if he went home this early. Sam seemed to think that he could do this. That being here was a good thing for him. Sam was wrong.

He glanced into the bright room. A man in an Armani suit laughed as a woman in a tiny black dress and wearing a necklace of precious gems, that would have been impressive if it was fake, touched his arm. His hair was styled, his skin was moisturised, and his fingernails would be manicured. Josh knew this man. He had no idea what his name was, but he was a cardboard cut-out of the man Josh used to be. He closed his eyes blocking his view of the couple, that wasn't his life anymore.

When he opened them they were still there, the woman whispered something to the man who's hand ventured lower down to the hem of the dress. They would be heading for the door soon. Heading for the a near vertical position and some heavy breathing. He knew the look in that woman's eyes but that was ancient history for him.

He would stay another half-an-hour out here before heading home. That would make it sound like he was making-an-effort. He pushed himself further into the darkness and said one final thank-you that the event organisers didn't expect anyone out here on such a wintery night. The external lighting, directly above him, wasn't on. He was cold outside but if he went inside he would have to stand there in those bright lights, standing out like the six-foot-seven mountain he was, and someone would eventually place him. Then the whispering would buzz from person to person, the tittering would flitter around the room and eyes would turn to him. It was inevitable. No one admitted to it but somehow everyone seemed to know him. It was his cross to bear.

His fingers drummed on the brickwork as turned to lean his right shoulder against the wall. He relaxed one of his long legs while he counted the seconds. He could wait. It wouldn't kill him. Twenty minutes more. He wished he'd worn something warmer.

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