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There’s one person I’d like to thank: Elaine, for putting up with all the early mornings.

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The Dublin pub was dark and it was a dump, which was good. Rory needed to narrow his eyes to even make out the creamy foam on his Guinness pint, less than an arms-length away. He doubted if the bartender had swiped a cleaning rag across the bar’s surface all afternoon. Lord, his hands were a sticky mess. What a place. With a fine sense of disgust, Rory slowly wiped his hands on his pants, then held his fingers close to his face. He carefully scrutinized each long and slender finger, with its perfect little half moon nail. Softly, almost sensuously, he blew on the tips of his fingers. He loved his fingers and hands. Through them, he expressed his … art. He saw a manicurist once a week, which drew the quiet derision of his pals, although no one ever said anything to his face. They weren’t that stupid. But he knew what they thought: A manicurist? What kind of man sees a manicurist? Rory didn’t care. It was his business. His hands. What did they know about his hands? Nothing. Let them have their little laugh. When it came to work, he was at the top of the list. They respected what he did. That was enough.

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