The Law of Attraction
blur of paperwork, meetings, and mind-numbing exhaustion as Alec threw himself into his current project with even more manic energy than normal. He worked his usual long days, went to the gym most evenings after work, and passed out around midnight every night. Yet inappropriate thoughts of Ed still crept into his consciousness, and even into his dreams.
    Still furious with himself for letting his guard down, Alec dealt with his anger by taking it out on Ed in the workplace. Always a hard taskmaster and critical of any weakness shown by graduate trainees, Alec was even more ruthless with Ed. He gave him seemingly impossible amounts of work: piles of paperwork to sort and manage, agreements to draft and proof, contracts to review.
    Ed rose to every challenge.
    He was good; Alec had to admit that. Probably one of the best temps he’d seen in years, but he was damned if he was going to tell Ed. Instead, like the shoemaker in the old fairy story, he kept increasing Ed’s workload, wanting to find the point where he’d break.
    On Wednesday evening, James called him out on it.
    Ed had worked late that day, not leaving till after seven. Then, just as he was putting on his coat to leave, Alec had given him another massive pile of paperwork to check.
    “Sorry to land this on you so late, but could you get this back to me by eight tomorrow morning?” Always utterly courteous on the surface, Alec kept his voice smooth and polite. “I need it for a telephone meeting with the Scottish accountants.”
    “Of course.” Ed did a good job of hiding his frustration, but Alec could read it in the tightness of his jaw as he took the pile of files. “Is it okay if I go through them at home?” He had violet shadows under his eyes and the day’s dusting of stubble on his jaw. He looked like death warmed up, yet he still made Alec’s stomach twist with an unsettling combination of longing and desire.
    “Absolutely. As long as it gets done.”
    “Okay. See you in the morning.”
    Once he’d left, James said, “Don’t you think you’re pushing him a little hard?”
    “He can handle it,” Alec replied curtly. “And if he can’t, then I’m doing him a favour. Better to know now so he can find another job. You know it will only get tougher.”
    “True. But it’s only his second week.”
    “And we’re supposed to be closing this deal in less than six. We can’t afford to give anyone on this team an easy ride.” Alec’s tone brooked no argument and James backed off. Alec remembered those shadows under Ed’s eyes and felt a twinge of guilt. He hoped Ed would manage to get at least a few hours of sleep tonight.
     
     
    “What’s everyone doing this weekend?” James asked as they sat around their usual table on Friday night.
    Alec had been careful to sit well away from Ed. He didn’t want a repeat of last week. One drink and then home, that was the plan.
    “Sleeping,” Ed said, lips quirking in a rueful grin. “In between going through the latest batch of figures Alec dumped on me an hour ago.” He caught Alec’s eye.
    Alec shrugged. “Sleep is for the weak. Haven’t you learned that yet?” But he smiled, chest tugging as Ed’s grin widened.
    “I think the last week has taught me sleep is a luxury, that’s for sure.”
    “What about you, Maria? Do you have plans for anything more exciting than sleeping?” James asked.
    “I’m having lunch with my brother and his boyfriend tomorrow—or rather, I should say his fiancé. They’re getting married soon.” Maria smiled, her brown eyes softening.
    Alec caught Ed’s gaze as everyone around the table chimed in with words of congratulation and started asking her about the wedding plans. He looked away from Ed quickly, trying to focus on what Maria was saying about winter weddings and venues. Longing swelled in his chest like a fist unclenching, and not for the first time he found himself questioning whether staying in the closet had been the right decision. He had

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