Authors: Kaje Harper
Tags: #M/M Romance, Love is an Open Road, gay romance, contemporary, musicians/rock stars, visual arts, in the closet, F2M transgender, family, men with pets, tattoos
“Maybe we should’ve rethought that second round,” Nate murmured.
“It’s Monday. I have to work tomorrow.” Carlos’s breath was warm on his cheek. “But call me, and I will definitely get you off again another night.”
“Same here.” Nate let Carlos’s hair slide through his fingers and dropped his hand. “Sleep well.”
“Oh, that’s not gonna be a problem.” Carlos got out, unlocked his car and started it. Nate was surprised at the throaty rumble of the engine. Carlos grinned over at him, gave him a wave that was half a rude gesture, and pulled out of the lot with a squeal of rubber. Nate sat and watched him drive away. He hoped the cops were looking for speeders somewhere else tonight.
Carlos held his phone in his hand, staring at Nate’s number. He wasn’t sure why he wasn’t clicking on it. They’d texted and Snapchatted all week, mostly dumb stuff. It’d started with Nate sending him a picture of a cartoon he’d done, Carlos himself, wrapped pornographically around a guitar. It had been both silly and kind of hot, and he’d had to send back suggestions of what you could do with other instruments. Then Nate had drawn some of them, all with Carlos involved. Dude had serious talent and no shame.
So now, on Friday night after a long boring workweek, nothing sounded better than getting sweaty and naked with a hot guy. One particular hot guy. At the moment, Mia was helping him set up to practice for a couple of hours, but after that he’d be more than ready to trade metal in for some rock and roll in the sheets, if Nate was up for that. But he didn’t tap the screen.
Mia came over to him, juggling drumsticks with the ease of long practice. “Hey, did Foster say he was going to be late?”
“No.” He slid his finger up his contact list and hit Foster’s instead. The phone rang and rang, then went to voice mail. “He’s not answering. If we’re lucky, he’s on the way.”
“And if we’re not?” Mia tilted her head, looking him in the eyes. “Foster’s headed for a cliff. You know it and I know it and when he’s not fuckin’ high or wasted, dude knows it too.”
“Yeah.” Carlos stuffed the phone away in his pocket. He had enough going on in his life without confusing repeat sex. However cool the guy was. “You think I can do anything about it?”
She frowned. “I wish I knew, right? Can you, I don’t know, like, tell him if he doesn’t get his shit together and at least come to shows less wasted, he’s out of the band?”
“Yeah. I can. And then when he shows up flying on whatever shit he’s on, and it’s ten minutes to show time, do I fire him?”
“Maybe? Fuck. Yeah. Maybe you have to. Or at least not let him onstage. Make him think.”
“I don’t think he’s using his brain at all. If he still has one.”
“Fucking idiot.” Mia began tossing her sticks again, her eyes fixed on them as they rose and fell. “But how long can we keep doing this?”
“We could audition someone new. We probably should. Maybe add someone who can play rhythm, and then if Foster crashes they can move to bass?”
“Yeah. Although what are the odds it’ll go better than last time?”
Carlos sighed. They’d tried a year ago to audition someone for rhythm, or even for lead and he’d drop back, because some of the songs he wrote would sound a lot better with three guitars. Not one of the many, many eager musicians who showed up had been a good fit. The ones who could really play didn’t want to be bossed around by Carlos, or they didn’t show up when they said they would, or they couldn’t stick to the same practice schedule, and the ones who were willing to bend to fit were weaker players, or too slow to pick up a new song. It had been weeks of frustration, and in the end, they’d let it drop. “Not great. But what choice is there?” He yanked out his phone and checked the time. Fifteen minutes late, dammit.
He sent a text.
If you don’t show in the next ten minutes I’m giving your job to a trained monkey. At least they’ll show up for enough bananas
Mia caught her sticks with one hand, tapped them even, and said, “It’s getting really old.”
“What is?” Carlos tamped down a flash of panic. “Foster screwing up? Yeah, for real.”
“Not just that. All the time we put in, the practice, trying to be good enough, and for what? We were lucky to make forty bucks apiece last week, and half of that went for gas.”
“It shouldn’t have been half,” Carlos said fast. “Didn’t Foster chip in his share? I’ll kick his ass and make sure he pays you.”
Mia shrugged. “Never mind. I’m just feeling bitchy tonight.”
The door of the practice space swung open and Foster strolled in, guitar case in hand. “Well, don’t take it out on me, Mama Mia.”
Mia strode over and whapped him on the head with her drumsticks, not gently. “Why not? You’re most of who I’m pissed at.”
He set his guitar down and raised his hands. “Not guilty. Car wouldn’t start.”
Mia snorted. “Right. So you weren’t in the bathroom doing blow.”
“That shit’s too rich for me.” Foster smirked and bent down to get out his guitar. “So, are we practicing, or what?”
Carlos sighed. “Yeah. We’re practicing. Get set up. We’ll start with ‘Common Cold’, warm up a bit.”
The practice was one long fight. Foster was high as a kite, and that gave him ideas. He wanted to argue everything, from arrangements to lyrics to which songs they’d do tomorrow night. Mia sniped at him constantly. Carlos swore sometimes she said the opposite just to make Foster shout and flail and lose his shit. By the time they were done, Carlos was wet with sweat and had a throbbing headache.
Foster practically ran out the door and was gone in a spray of gravel. Carlos packed his guitar and his cello carefully into his back seat and waited for Mia to finish loading up her drums in the van. It totally blew to have to takedown after each practice, but the guy who owned the space let more than one local band practice there, and they couldn’t leave anything or it would be gone.
Mia put the last piece in the van and shut the back, leaning her shoulder against the door. “So that went well. Not.”
“We played okay.” Carlos knew it was a weak comeback.
“I don’t live on beans and use all my spare time driving around and weight-lifting drums to play
She pushed away from the van and came over to him, reaching to touch his arm. “Carlos, you’re a good guy and you’re a fucking excellent musician, but I can’t keep pissing my life away on something that’s only headed downhill. We need to fix KnifeSwitch, or we have to admit we can’t.”
“And do what?” he asked bitterly. “Spend the rest of our lives as a dental receptionist and a salesperson, saying ‘Yes, ma’am’ and ‘No, that doesn’t make you look fat’?”
“Hey, I don’t mind my day job. I get to see pretty women in their underwear, and cute guys waiting in total boredom who want to chat.”
“Guys who are totally bored in a lingerie shop probably would rather chat with me,” Carlos sniped. Mia was pretty equal-opportunity when it came to dates, but he thought the girls had a bit of an edge. “Anyway, that might suit you, but it doesn’t work for me.”
Mia nodded. “I wouldn’t still be doing this shit with my thirtieth birthday staring me in the face if I didn’t want it too. But I’m also staring back at that fucking birthday and asking how many more I’m going to celebrate in a half-wasted crowd in some house venue with someone peeing in the swamp outside. You know?”
“We’ll do better,” Carlos promised recklessly. He couldn’t imagine being onstage without Mia. They’d clicked from the moment she’d shown up to audition with him six years ago, and he’d never have made it this far without her. “We’ll find another guitar, I swear. Fuck Foster. He’s not breaking us up. And we have Sparkfest and the battle of the bands coming up. I heard maybe more than one label rep will be there, looking for new talent.”
Mia’s eyes brightened. “Really? Cool. That would be so fucking cool.”
“Yeah. I’ll keep an eye on Foster, I swear. I’ll keep him with me all day tomorrow, and make sure he shows up ready to play. Don’t give up on us yet.”
“Not giving up.” Mia punched his shoulder and headed for her van.
Carlos got into his car, but just sat watching as she pulled away. His heart was racing and his palms were wet, like he’d dodged a bullet. He
Mia, needed the music and the band, to be himself. What was he worth without it? Any trained chimp could say, “
What’s your dental insurance?
” and “
Would Thursday work better?
” He’d given all of his life to getting this far, ever since he’d bought his first guitar. He had to go big, because going home just wasn’t an option.
He pulled out his phone. There were two texts from Nate, the chime clearly unheard over the music.
Hey, want to come by on my break?
And at 9:04:
Let me know if you want to get together this weekend. I’m off at 10 *hint
He looked at the time. Not much after ten.
He sent back:
You still up?
The reply chimed immediately.
Sure. Want to come over? I have lube and beer
Carlos could feel the smile stretch his face.
In that order?
In either order, if you get your ass over here
He realized he was pretty gross and sweaty and changed that to:
make it 45
I might not have beer by then
I’ll bring more
He realized he was humming as he drove home. When he got there, he stripped fast, not looking in the mirror. A little touch with his fingers down low told him that the hard practice and sweat had loosened things up slightly. This was not the night he wanted his packer to suddenly fall off. He grabbed the solvent and cotton balls, cursing slightly, and went to work.
There was always a moment when he detached the thing that was disorienting, like a frame shift— guy; mutilated guy. He powered past it, not letting himself obsess. Tonight was about better things. A fast shower used up seven minutes, and he hesitated, then took the time to reshave before spraying the adhesive and reapplying the packer. The adhesive pulled on his freshly shaved skin, but he told himself it was erotic. He added a harness that wasn’t all stretched out, and dragged his tighter pair of jeans on for the first time in a long time.
He looked in the mirror at last. There he was, naked flat chest, hard-muscled arms that he worked like a sum-bitch for, little mustache, flat belly, and jeans that clearly outlined the shaft and flared head of his dick. He tipped his chin up and lowered his eyebrows, twisting his lip into a little sneer.
Would you mess with this guy? Would you fuck this guy?
He looked good. He felt good, and he was going out to get laid by a guy he actually liked. Whistling, he grabbed his last two cold bottles of Hop Czar, swiped from a friend’s bachelor party and reserved at the back of the fridge for the right moment, and headed out.
The drive was shorter than he remembered, and in less than twenty minutes he turned in at Nate’s place. This time the garage was dark and silent, but mellow light showed from the windows above. He parked, climbed the staircase and rapped on Nate’s door, trying to pretend his heart wasn’t beating fast. Well, only because he was horny, of course. When Nate opened up, Carlos grabbed him in a rough clinch with his free hand, pushing him inside while taking control of his mouth.
Nate didn’t protest, just humped up against him, clearly as turned on as he was. Carlos kicked at the door blindly, and managed to swing it shut. Nate huffed against his lips, half laugh, half need. “Dammit. You’re late.”
He raised his other hand. “I brought beer.”
Nate pulled away, reached over to lock the door, and then took the bottles. “Oh yeah, the good stuff. You’re forgiven. Now or later?”
Carlos lowered his voice to a growl. “Later. Really later. Put it down.”
Nate’s lips twitched, but he obediently reached over and set the beer on an end table. “And now?”
“Got it.” Nate turned away, tugging his shirt off as he did so. He had a great back, lean and long and pale, with those little butt-dimples right above the waistband of his jeans. He tossed his shirt over his shoulder and Carlos caught it, getting a whiff of clean male sweat. As they reached the bedroom, he flipped it into the corner, toed off his shoes, and kicked the door shut. Nate turned around by the bed. “And what about now?”
Carlos took two long strides, dropped to his knees, and popped the button on those jeans. Nate clamped his hands on Carlos’s hair. That weight on his head, the sight of Nate’s body and the sound of his fast breaths, made Carlos’s fingers clumsy as he reached for the zipper tab.
God, he needed this.
He slid the zipper slowly down, grinning at the way each inch revealed Nate’s flushed straining dick. Then he paused, teasing a bit, leaving the last inch closed, trapping Nate just enough to not spring free. He pressed a kiss over the veined length of the revealed shaft, and Nate made a pained sound through his teeth. Carlos licked down him, breathing in the clean taste and heady scent of his warm skin.
He always liked this, blowing a guy, making him jolt and pant and swear with the power of mouth and hands. He’d heard other transmen complain about how it was easier to bottom than top, how they usually did the simple thing anyway, rather than fight it, whatever their preference. But he’d always known he wanted this, a man in his mouth or his body. He was no doormat, but you could still top a guy even as you let him fuck your face. He lowered the zipper that last inch, and let Nate’s cock bounce up against his lips.
He caught the tip and sucked on it, tasting the slick salt of it. Nate’s fingers clenched in his hair. Carlos hummed, and slid the length of Nate’s cock into his mouth, over his tongue and against the vibrating back of his throat.
Nate gasped, and tugged at his hair. “Won’t last long.”
Carlos pulled off with slow deep suction, then nipped just under the curved head, making Nate whimper. Carlos laughed, hearing his own voice dark with satisfaction.
Hell to the yeah.
He could play Nate like a fucking instrument, emphasis on the fucking. He reached up and tugged the waistband of Nate’s jeans lower. Nate gave a helpful wiggle of his hips, the wet tip of his dick bumping against Carlos’s neck.