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Genuine

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John does not swallow, or allow his hands to clench, or his face to shift. He looks at Harold and does not blink.

“It’s a genuine offer,” John says. Harold looks mildly surprised. Perhaps there’s a bit of academic curiosity there, but — but nothing else, he thinks.

After a moment, Harold turns back to his computer screen and resumes typing.

“I assure you, Mr. Reese, I have no need of such services.”

John stares at the space where Harold’s collar gives way to skin. He hadn’t really expected any other answer. He could push a little harder, explain that “I would be happy to—” had not been a mere pleasantry.

He looks away.