Chase darted out the Metronome’s stage door around midnight, guitar case in hand. He stopped to light a cigarette before continuing down the stairs, eyes widening when he saw Brian leaning against his SUV’s rear bumper. When that dazzling grin spread across his lips, Brian’s heart promptly flip-flopped. “What’re you doing here?” Chase asked. “I didn’t think I’d see you again.”
“Me neither.” Brian grinned back, but kept his shaky hands in his pockets. What was it about this guy that made him so nervous? One look, and every part of him started to tingle. “Would you believe I just happened to be in the neighborhood?”
“Nope. But nice try.” He opened his trunk and stowed his guitar inside. “I heard about what happened. Just figures, I take off one night and miss the big floor show.” When neither of them laughed, he added, “Sorry, man. Lame joke.”
“S’okay. That’s why I didn’t come inside to say hi. I’d rather not run into Kit. Or Lou. Or Clive.”
“Which reminds me, they went on a few minutes ago with their new bass player.” Chase rolled his eyes.
Didn’t take them long to replace him. Not that Brian was surprised. “That bad, huh?”
“Well, Bill Wyman’s not losing any sleep. They’re shooting themselves in the foot, in my humble opinion. Without you, they sound just like a hundred other mediocre bands.”
“Thanks. I think.”
“It was a compliment, believe me.” He shut the trunk, then tamped out his half-smoked cigarette on the sole of his boot. “You heading home, or do you have time to stop in for a cup of coffee somewhere?”
All Brian could do for a very long moment was stare. “Um, don’t you have to go back on later?”
“Nah, I’m only booked for one set tonight. So…” Here came the smile again. “How about it?”
Good thing Brian had gone home that afternoon for a nap and dinner, even if he’d had to sit through another lecture from his father after Cameron broke the news about the job not working out. Then he had to wait until they went to bed—and there was an image Brian had to scrub out of his brain with bleach—before he could slip out and catch the subway downtown to the club. He’d left his dad a note saying he’d be home late, though it still wouldn’t save him from another ass-chewing tomorrow morning. Might as well make the punishment worth it. “Lead the way.”
They walked down to the all-night diner at the end of the block and took a booth in the back. The lone waitress on duty filled their mugs and left a thermal carafe on their table. It was okay—not thick as mud, or dishwater-weak—but Brian pushed his aside after the first couple sips and forced himself to lean back and relax.
“If you don’t mind me saying, you don’t seem too bummed about getting kicked out of your band,” Chase remarked.
“I was yesterday, but not anymore. It was a real toxic situation, all three of us playing together, living together…”
“So did you find another place to stay?”
“Yeah, I’m with my dad right now.”
Chase shot him a puzzled look. “You’re from Toronto, but your dad’s American?”
“No, he’s Canadian too, but he moved to New York a few years ago, to be with his partner. He’s gay.” Crap! Why did he have to go blurting it like that? As if Chase was too dumb to figure out what “partner” meant.
“You mean, he’s gay too?”
Wow, that shiny white tabletop looked really interesting. “I-Is it that obvious?
“No. But I’m pretty good at picking up the vibe.” He reached over to take Brian’s hand. The touch of his skin felt warm and reassuring, but it didn’t stop Brian’s heart from thumping so hard he could barely catch his breath. Every part of him was on fire. “You’re a sweet kid, and I’m flattered. But I’m way too old for you.”
First his father, then Cameron, now Chase. Wasn’t anybody ever going to treat him like an adult? “I’m not that much younger.”
“Really? What are you, eighteen, nineteen?”
“I’ll be twenty-one the first week of July.”
Chase burst out laughing. “God, that’s like an entire fucking lifetime ago. You don’t want to know all the shit I went through at your age. It’s amazing I’ve lived this long.”
“How long is that, exactly?”
“Twenty-eight. Going on fifty.”
“Nothing like making yourself sound ancient.”
“Sometimes that’s how I feel.” He slumped back in his seat. “So what’s next? You looking for another band to join, or are you gonna start your own?”
“Pretty hard to do either without my keyboards. Kit’s still got ’em at the apartment. No idea when I’ll get them back, or even if.”
“Can’t you just call him up and ask him?”
“Dad doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Neither does his lawyer.”
“Of course the lawyer doesn’t want you two talking to each other. They make more money if you do it through them. Then they stir up all kinds of shit so it takes years to get anything resolved.”
“Sounds like you’ve had some experience with lawsuits.”
“More than my fair share.” He poured himself another cup of coffee and sipped it slowly, drumming his fingers on the table. “You got your apartment key on you?”
It was tucked in Brian’s wallet, right there in his back pocket. “Why?”
“Your buddies have another set to do tonight, which means they probably won’t be home ’til two or three. If you want, we can drive over now and get your stuff.”
Exactly what Brian had been champing at the bit to do last night. So why was he hesitating? Because the prospect was exciting, but the reality was too fucking scary? Jesus, what kind of a wuss did that make him? “It’s in Brooklyn. That’s a pretty big detour.”
“Not for me. I live in Park Slope.” He stood, pulled a few bucks out of his pocket and tossed them on the table, then zipped up his leather jacket. “C’mon, let’s go.”
Brian glanced down at his hands, amazed to discover they’d stopped shaking. Maybe this was the most idiotic thing he’d ever done—in a long, storied history of idiotic things—but right now he didn’t care. He needed his keyboards back, and Kit wasn’t going to hand them over without a fight. Besides, he couldn’t exactly schlep them home by himself on the fucking subway. He needed an extra pair of hands and a car, which Chase had generously volunteered.
“Fuck it,” he muttered, following Chase out of the diner. If he was an idiot, so be it. He’d be an even bigger one if he turned him down.
© Cat Grant
A Fool for You
Icon Men Bk 3
Author: Cat Grant
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Sexy Chase Aubrey plays blues guitar like nobody’s business. One look at him performing at a New York nightclub, and twenty-year-old keyboard player Brian Barclay’s smitten.
However, Brian remains true to his boyfriend Kit—until Kit cheats on him and steals all the songs they’ve written together. With nowhere else to go, Brian turns to his estranged father, Trevor, and Trevor’s partner, Cameron. But even Cameron can’t smooth over the tension between father and son.
Brian’s in need of a friend, and Chase fills the role nicely—and quickly heats up the sheets with him as well. The passion between them is mind-blowing, until Brian discovers Chase’s secret past. A past he’s run from for years. And when the past threatens the present, Brian can’t help wondering if the love of his life has played him for a fool.