Read Played to Death Online

Authors: Meg Perry

Tags: #Gay & Lesbian, #Literature & Fiction, #Fiction, #Gay, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Genre Fiction, #Lgbt, #Gay Fiction

Played to Death (16 page)

BOOK: Played to Death
10.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Saturday, June 27


On Friday, Scott had gotten a text from Ethan.
Been thinking about police thing - such a bad idea on many levels. Can’t you get out of it?

Scott had answered,
No. There’s a killer loose and they need my expertise. See you tomorrow evening?

There’d been a pause, then Ethan’s response.
See you Saturday.

There’d been no action in the chat room as of Friday evening. Scott went bar-hopping in West Hollywood with his friends, celebrating the Supreme Court ruling, dancing a little and drinking less. He went home at midnight, good-naturedly accepting the jeers from his drunken pals.

Late Saturday afternoon he’d begun work on dinner, staying in curry mode to make a pineapple curry with bell peppers and onions. Ethan had called around five; he wasn’t due until six, but Scott had told him to come on over.

Ethan arrived at 5:30 bearing flowers - orchids, again - and a good bottle of wine. Scott poured the wine and waved Ethan to one of the bar stools. “Sit.”

Ethan sipped his wine. “You must specialize in Asian cooking.”

“Meh. I suppose if you can say I specialize in anything, that would be it. I’ve taken a couple of classes.”

“I never cooked much until I moved to Boston. My last boyfriend was from Georgia, and he made some of the most God-awful, artery-clogging Southern crap you’ve ever seen. I had to learn to cook to save my own health.”

“I ate out most of the time with my last boyfriend. I’m enjoying cooking again.”

Ethan eyed Scott over the rim of his glass. “Did you think about what I said? About the police?”

“Did I think what about it?”

“Did you think
about it? Did you think about telling them to do their own jobs?”

“No. I told you, they need a cellist’s expertise for this. Can we please not discuss this tonight? I’d like to have a pleasant evening and forget about this case for a few hours... which I cannot do if you’re going on about it.”

Ethan didn’t like that much, but he didn’t argue. During dinner, he was attentive and engaged in conversation. He helped Scott clear the table and rinse the dishes. After dinner he asked, “Can we hang out in your loft?”

“Sure.” Scott climbed the stairs and turned on a low lamp in the corner.

Ethan smiled. “This is such a terrific space. I bet you spend a lot of time up here.”

“I do.”

“May I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

“Why aren’t you a soloist?”

“That was my mother’s intention for me. When I turned five, I’d been playing for two years already. My mother had it all arranged with my teacher to have me study music six hours a day, and she lined up a tutor to homeschool me for two hours a day.”

Ethan raised an eyebrow. “An eight-hour day for a five-year-old?”

“It would have been more than eight hours. That was before practice and homework. But my dad intervened. He said I was going to public school, that he was going to get some return on the ridiculous amount of property tax he paid, and that no kid of his was going to be one of those prodigy cases that burned out by the time they were sixteen.”

“And he prevailed?”

“He always prevailed when it came to major decisions. So I went to public school. The cello teacher I had fired me, but my dad found another one whom I liked much better and who said that two hours of practice a day was plenty until I was eight.”

Ethan shook his head. “I practiced piano an hour a day at that age. I’m trying to imagine two hours, and I can’t.”

Scott shrugged. “I loved playing. I’d have practiced three hours if my dad had let me. On the days when he was out of town, I did. Anyway - when I was in first grade, my class took a field trip to a children’s program done by the Philadelphia Orchestra. They played Peter and the Wolf and explained all the different instruments and the sounds they could make. But what fascinated me was the way the entire orchestra sounded together.” Scott smiled, remembering. “I’d never understood harmony before. I loved playing my cello, but when I heard the entire orchestra play, I knew
was what I wanted to do. To be one of the people creating all those harmonies that came together in one glorious piece of

Ethan was grinning. “I wish you could see your face. You’re still excited about it.”

“Of course I am.” Scott chuckled. “My dad says I wouldn’t shut up about it for days. He talked to my teacher, and she put me with three of her older students into my first string quartet. Then, once I got to fourth grade, we had a school orchestra. Even though we weren’t very good as an orchestra, of course, being in grade school - it sealed the deal for me. I knew that was my future.”

“What did your mother have to say about that?”

“She was livid. She wanted to be famous, and her plan to achieve that was for me to be the next Yo Yo Ma. She’d be famous for being my mother. She and my dad argued about it for a week after I’d become part of the quartet. One night, after I’d gone to bed, they were downstairs yelling at each other. I dragged my cello downstairs and told my mother that if she didn’t let me do what I wanted, I’d break my cello right there and never play again.”

Ethan’s eyes were wide. “Did that work?”

“It shut her up for the moment. My dad wasn’t a cuddly parent, but right then he set my cello aside and picked me up. He said, ‘Scotty, if you want to play in an orchestra, that’s what you’re going to do. If your mother doesn’t like it, we’ll find her someplace else to live.’ Of course I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was threatening her with divorce. She wanted to be a Main Line society wife as much as she wanted to be famous, maybe more, so she gave up.”

Ethan whistled softly. “Did she ever say more about it?”

“Not directly. Her revenge was to trot me out like a trained monkey to perform for her bridge club. She tried to do that at my parents’ parties, too, but my dad wouldn’t go for it.”

“He protected you.”

“He did, and he happily paid for anything I wanted that would lead me away from prodigiousness and toward becoming a complete person. He traveled a lot and worked crazy hours, but when he had free time on the weekends, he’d take me on the train to New York and we’d go to museums and musicals.” Scott laughed wryly. “He tried to get me interested in golf and baseball but those didn’t take.”

Ethan was looking at Scott with an expression of - desire, almost. He said softly, “Would you play for me?”

Scott’s immediate reaction was
. A picture flashed into his mind - a picture of Jamie, lying on this sofa, eyes closed, listening to Scott play.

Scott wasn’t sure he trusted Ethan enough to allow him access to that part of his being. Not yet.

He was about to answer when the phone rang. He glanced at the caller ID. “Heh. It’s my dad.”

Ethan cocked his head to one side. “Can you let it go to voicemail?”

“He’ll call back every fifteen minutes until I answer. Might as well talk to him.”

Ethan looked amused. “Okay.”

Scott lifted the phone to his ear. “Hello.”

“Scotty!” Jim Deering’s voice boomed through the phone, and Scott winced. His dad used the same volume for the telephone as he did for yelling “Fore!” down a fairway. “Not catching you at a bad time, am I?”

“No. Just hanging out with a friend.”

“Well, I won’t keep you long. Just wanted to remind you that your mother’s birthday’s coming up.”

“I know, Dad. What does she want?”

“What she
is for you to come home and visit.”

“Well, she’s not going to get that. What else does she want?”

His dad snorted. “I hear ya, son. Send her flowers and a good bottle of wine. She can brag on them to her bridge club.”

“Will do.”

Deep sigh. “Impossible, that woman. We’re taking one of those Viking cruises, right? Down the Danube or Rhine or one of those damn rivers. But no, that’s not enough because we’re not leaving until two weeks
her birthday. So I’ve got to make reservations and go buy some expensive thing just to give her on the actual day.”

Scott shook his head. His dad’s secretary would make the reservations and shop for the expensive thing. His dad had stopped shopping for gifts for his mother a long time ago. “Sounds like a plan.”

“Sure wish she’d take up golf. Be a hell of a lot easier.”

“You know she’s not gonna do that. It would mess up her manicure.”

Scott’s dad roared with laughter. “You got
right. Everything okay there?”

If Ethan hadn’t been sitting there, Scott would have told his dad about the murder case - but he didn’t want to get into that with Ethan again. He’d tell his dad later. “Sure, Dad. Everything’s fine.”

“Glad to hear it. Take care, son.”

“You too.”

Scott hung up and tossed the phone onto the coffee table. Ethan was trying unsuccessfully to hide a smile. “He sounds - formidable.”

“He’s an oil executive. He is formidable.”

“He doesn’t mind that you’re gay?”

Scott shrugged. “I wouldn’t say that he doesn’t mind. But he wasn’t shocked when I told him. He always figured, since I liked the theater, I must be a queer. That’s more or less a direct quote.”

Ethan twirled the stem of his wine glass, watching the liquid move within. “It could be worse.”

“Oh, I know. I’m not complaining. One reason for his good humor about it is that I’m adopted. So he knows it’s not

“What about your mother?”

“She refuses to discuss it. When I visit at the holidays, she always has some friend’s daughter or niece for me to meet. She wants grandchildren.”

Ethan raised an eyebrow. “She can still have them.”

“Not from me.”

“Do you know anything about your birth parents?”

“Nope. Never had any interest in that.”

Ethan studied his glass again. “I used to wish I was adopted. That way there was a possibility that my real parents would come back for me.”

“No such luck, huh?”

Ethan huffed a laugh. “No.”

“You didn’t get along with your parents?”

“My mother left when I was eight. Moved to France with some artist, ten years younger than she was. She said she’d send for me, but of course she never did. My father was always working. The ‘help’ pretty much raised me. Then when my father found out I was gay, he disowned me.”

Scott was horrified. Jamie hadn’t been kidding when he said Scott’s parental relationships were far better than Ethan’s. “Is your mother still alive?”

“No idea. Last I heard from her was a card when I turned ten.” Ethan drained his wine glass. “Let’s talk about something else.”

This was the crucial moment. If Ethan turned him down this time, Scott would never see him again. He set his wine glass on the table and moved to the sofa, beside Ethan. “Or, we could just not talk for a while.”

A slow smile spread across Ethan’s face. “What a wonderful idea.”


Scott lay in bed, entirely comfortable. As initial sexual encounters went, that had been pretty damn good. Well worth waiting for. 

He’d never been much for cuddling or talking after sex, but he could see how that might be an option now. Ethan was on his side, facing Scott, lightly stroking Scott’s hands.

Scott reached over and traced Ethan’s jaw line with a finger. Ethan smiled. “You look happy.”

“I’m more content than I’ve been in a long time.”

Ethan’s smile widened. “I’m glad.”

“Can I ask you something?”


Scott trailed his finger down Ethan’s chest to the vertical scar that began just below his breastbone, ending at his navel. “What happened?”

Ethan hesitated. “I was stabbed two years ago. Had to have my spleen removed.”

“What the hell happened?”

Ethan’s expression darkened. “I made the mistake of getting involved in one of Jamie’s cases.” He made a dismissive gesture. “I don’t want to talk about that. Now it’s my turn to ask you something.”

Scott tried to keep the
uh oh
look off his face. “What?”

He must not have been successful. Ethan’s smile returned. “Don’t look like that. It’s not anything bad. It might even turn out to be good.”

“Okay - what is it?”

“I’ve been thinking about going to see Dave Brodie.”

Scott raised up on an elbow, aghast. “Why the hell would you do

“To apologize.”

“For what?”

“For treating Jamie the way I did. I was close to the whole family. Dave treated me like one of his own kids, and I never - I haven’t spoken to him since I left Jamie. It’s a blot on my conscience. I have to deal with it.”

BOOK: Played to Death
10.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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