Damen is sitting on the edge of the white satin bedspread. His hands are laced together; the left thumb is on top. Laurent, leaning against the safe harbour of the closed bedroom door, experiences a small moment of displacement in time.
“Halvik is probably hugging herself right now thinking about your genetic material,” Laurent says. It’s the kind of thought that he’d usually keep on the other side of his brain-to-mouth filter, but he’s stopped caring what he says in front of Damen.
“Nothing. Never mind.” Laurent taps the heel of one shoe, thoughtful, against the door. “I can fix this.”
Damen says, with a hint of anger, “If you’re thinking–”
“No,” Laurent says. “I can’t–I’m not going to force them to stick around and pretend not to be in love. Any idiot could see that would backfire. No. I can work with this, but the problem is the story. We could…all right, I can frame it as head versus heart: Jokaste as the strategic choice, the smarter pick for someone in your professional position–”
<<Jackie!>>, Bethany admonished her. <<You can’t treat me like that, okay? I am risking my job to help you!>>.
Jacqueline rolled her eyes, waving her hand in the air. <<Whatever, Bethany. Nobody forced you to do this. So if you don’t want to help anymore, just leave. I’m not holding you against your will>>, she hissed.
Bethany threw her arms in the air, exasperated. <<Jackie, please!>>, she yelled. <<I just want you to settle this issue and see it’s not a big deal. Why do you care about this caller, anyways? They’re probably just a prankster>>, she insisted.