The Hardest Fall (Roadmap to Your Heart Book 3)

BOOK: The Hardest Fall (Roadmap to Your Heart Book 3)
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The Hardest Fall
Roadmap to Your Heart, Book #3
Christina Lee

C
opyright
© 2016 by Christina Lee. All rights reserved.

Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without prior written permission by the author(s), except where permitted by law.

THE HARDEST FALL is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

All products and/or brand names mentioned are registered trademarks of their respective holders/companies.

Published by Christina Lee

Cover design by Kanaxa

Editing and proofing provided by M.Ute Editing and Flat Earth Editing

L
ee trades
country ballads for show tunes in the next standalone book of her M/M series, Roadmap to Your Heart.

 
A
fter licking
his wounds from a painful relationship, Tate Sullivan is ready to move back home. He picks up where he left off as drag queen extraordinaire Frieda Love in a West Village bar in New York City. He doesn’t expect to be drawn to the mysterious man with the dark eyes who shows up to every single performance—flirtatiously eyeing Tate one second and disappearing on him the next. Why mess around with a guy who is clearly giving him mixed signals?

S
ebastian Clark is
on a mission the first night he shows up at Ruby Redd’s. He doesn’t anticipate his plan being flipped on its head by the charismatic drag queen and even more so by the mesmerizing man beneath the makeup. But the more he learns about the vibrant and brash Tate Sullivan the more intrigued he becomes. So he pushes aside his guilt about why he sought out the bar in the first place in order to get to know the guy behind the stilettos.

T
hey’re
opposites on many levels, but as Tate spends time volunteering with Sebastian at the shelter, he begins to feel good about himself in ways he hadn’t before. For Sebastian, Tate represents a sense of fun and freedom that is completely fresh and invigorating. Before they know it, their easy companionship catches fire, and Sebastian is kissing a man for the first time, while Tate is opening his heart to new possibilities. But Sebastian is still keeping a secret, and Tate will have to decide if he can trust again, or if the betrayal he feels from Sebastian’s confession is too much to overcome.

O
ther Titles
by Christina Lee

M
ale
/Male Romance

There You Stand

The Darkest Flame

The Deepest Blue

Touch the Sky (co-written with Nyrae Dawn)

B
etween Breaths Series
(New Adult Romance)

All of You

Before You Break

Whisper to Me

Promise Me This

There You Stand
(m/m)

A
dult Contemporary Romance

Two of Hearts

Three Sacred Words

T
o Russ
. Thank you for desperately loving him until the very end. I don’t know where you are all these years later, but I hope your life is filled with magic.

1
Tate

M
y arm shot
up and I pointed at the ceiling as I belted out the last note of a Gaga song. If I had her voice, I’d be rolling in the millions instead of lip-synching her pop tunes, wearing heavy purple eye shadow, and silver stilettos that pinched my freaking toes.

But I had a blast performing as Frieda Love, I was damn good at it, and the stage adored me. As did the crowd, if a couple dozen gay men wolf whistling had anything to say about it. Or that sexy man in the corner whose dark eyes tracked me two nights a week.

Dark Eyes looked straight as they come with his perfectly tailored button-front shirt that opened at the throat, exposing a patch of smooth tan skin and a fine silver chain. But plenty of het men and women came into Ruby Redd’s Bar and Grille. Some stayed for the food, others for the entertainment.

As I exited the stage down the three steps to the dance floor, I spotted Dean and Callum near the bar. Making my way through a sea of bodies, fingers groped and voices carried as the audience congratulated me on a great performance. Frieda Love might screw around with one of her regulars tonight, but first I wanted to hang out with my friends.


Girl
,” Jessica, one of the other queens who had already performed tonight, drawled in my ear. “You looked ridiculously fab up there.”

Hazel Nuts, as she was known on stage, was in transition, drop dead gorgeous, and had a huge following in this crowd as well. Fuck the prejudice she encountered in her everyday life from the asshats that couldn’t see how radiant she was in her own skin.

Here at Ruby Redd’s we were strictly against the use of such language as
tranny
and
shemale
, which were not only derogatory but also encouraged the idea that transsexuals were men dressed as women. Any hecklers were immediately thrown out on their asses because the owner, Maurice, ran a tight ship.

I kissed her cheek as I walked by. “Thanks, sexy. My friends are waiting at the bar.”

I hadn’t seen Dean since he graduated from NC State last fall. He looked good, especially with Callum standing behind him with his burly arms wrapped around his waist and his face nuzzled in his neck. Dean and Callum were really good together and I couldn’t be happier for them.

They were only in town so Callum could finally meet Dean’s parents in Jersey. While here they had also planned to visit me and to see a Yankee game, since Callum was a huge fan.

I was back in the city because I didn’t have many other options. This was my hometown, my mother lived on the Upper East Side with her new husband, and I was having trouble finding full-time employment.

It took me two additional years to graduate from NC State with a communications degree because some of the credits wouldn’t transfer from NYU. Broadcasting jobs were hard to come by and though I had interned at an online publication there were no openings available at the time. I stayed as long as I could before finally coming home.

Now I did what I knew best—performed as drag queen extraordinaire at a bar on Christopher Street two nights a week. That, along with my graphic T-shirt business helped me contribute to the rent in the small West Village apartment I shared with my best friend, Tori.

“I always knew you could rock the stage,” Callum said in his southern drawl as soon as I reached them. He looked so much more comfortable in his own skin then he had six months ago, which was really cool to witness.

“Of course I can.” I spun around and shook my booty in my white beaded dress while they cracked up. I made sure not to bend too low and rip the seam because the cost of dressing in drag was not for the faint of heart. I went for demure Gaga tonight because her elaborate costumes broke the bank, probably even for her. Besides, I wasn’t a fan of wearing meat, only packing it.

A man from a nearby table whistled at me and I recognized the dude after he slipped me a twenty at the end of my performance. The way he eyed me now told me he was hoping for some Frieda loving tonight, but I wasn’t someone who could be bought. Still, I could flirt shamelessly with the best of them.

I hugged Dean and then turned toward the tall and hulking Callum to wind my arms around his shoulders. I couldn’t help sniffing his cologne extra deep since he was plain gorgeous and just the kind of guy I got a boner for.

“That’s long enough,” Dean hissed in my direction. “Stop mauling my man.”

“You mean I can’t sneak in an ass grab?” I quipped before backing away. Seeing that possessive look in my friend’s eye was humorous, but also gave me an ache in my chest that I couldn’t quite explain. I didn’t want to explore what that meant, so I brushed it aside.

When I glanced over Callum’s shoulder the same man with the dark eyes and inky black hair was watching me and once he was caught staring, his gaze flitted away.

Maybe he appreciated the make-up, the blonde wig. I’d been told I had a nice jawline and could pull off my female counterpart pretty convincingly. Dark Eyes was probably a straight guy who enjoyed the female anatomy, even though my boobs were falsies, same as my eyelashes. Maybe he’d even been with a couple of queens who were asked to stay in full costume while he pounded them from behind so he could maintain his het status in his own deluded mind.

My gut tightened painfully remembering being in just such a precarious position.

I wondered how he’d react if I approached him without the getup, with a fresh face, clean of makeup. My bet was that he’d run in the other direction. Fucker.

He wasn’t exactly my type so what the hell did I care? He might’ve been a bit taller and thicker than me but he matched me in build, with his solid shoulders and lean waist. He had a beautifully masculine face, not boyish in the least, with a strong brow and full lips. Compared to my blond hair and fair skin, we’d be quite the contrast.

But his eyes were the draw for me, especially when I was on stage. How they tracked me, made me wonder what he was thinking. They were soulful, a cross between forlorn and world-weary, and though I really had no patience for emo guys, for some reason the more I saw him the more curious I became.

“So what’s new?” I asked the gorgeous couple standing in front of me, breaking my gaze from the mysterious man who did not deserve so much of my attention.

“Mom and Dad are warming up to Callum,” Dean said, grasping for his guy’s hand. “They’re glad I brought home a
friend
.”

“Friend?” I scoffed. “Seriously?”

“They’re slowly coming around,” Dean said. “Especially after our argument on Thanksgiving when I told them they’d be losing another son if they didn’t accept me for who I am.”

“His mom kind of lost it,” Callum supplied, after sipping from his glass. “Got herself together right quick. Called him and told him she wanted to be part of his life.”

“Damn straight.” I clapped Dean on the shoulder.

“And how’s business?” I asked Callum because his family owned a hunting preserve in small town hick-country Florida.

“Doing great,” he said, taking another pull of his beer. I realized how parched I was from performing as I watched him swallow. It had nothing to do with that enticing Adam’s apple bobbing up and down.

“He’s been making all kinds of furniture and his family is selling sugar cane syrup,” Dean said, looking at his boy with pride.

“Cassie and Billie?” I knew his sister Cassie from NC State and heard his brother had a therapy dog that assisted him with his seizure disorder. But that he was also wicked smart, loved to bake, and hadn’t yet officially come out to his family.

“Cassie is engaged to Dermot,” he said. “And Billie begged to come to the city with us. I told him next time for sure because he’s still in school.”

“That kid has wanderlust.” I grinned. “Maybe he’ll decide to leave that town.”

Something gloomy passed through Callum’s gaze. I knew how protective he was of his brother.

“He could study abroad or attend culinary school,” I suggested. “Have him come to the city. I’ll look out for him.”

Dean’s eyes bugged out and Callum burst out laughing.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” I huffed out, crossing my arms over my boobs, which felt like they’d shifted a bit during my performance. “I wouldn’t let him get into any trouble. I’d slowly introduce him to the scene.”

Just because I would never settle down didn’t mean I couldn’t be a good friend to somebody who needed support. I certainly would never want anybody to get burned the way I did. Gay dudes who pretended to be super straight to the detriment of everybody around them could go suck it.

That includes you, Dark Eyes
. I could feel his heated gaze on me again. Bet his thumb was fingering the condensation on the glass. Gin and tonic with lime every single visit. I could ask the bartender who was scheduled most nights I was on stage. Phil always had a tall glass of water with lemon waiting at the bar for me after my performances. He would tell me if Dark Eyes was batting for the same team or if he seemed to swing both ways. But then I’d appear desperate, and queens were never desperate. We always had plenty of men to hold court.

“Let me get changed,” I said, reaching for the cold liquid on the bar but refusing to look in Dark Eyes’ direction again. “My feet are killing me, but I want to watch Candy Cane perform.”

Dean pulled Callum toward the dance floor and then locked him in a kiss that made my toes curl. Well, fuck. I threw Dark Eyes one final glance as I sipped at the water and bit down on an ice cube. I would definitely find somebody to hook up with tonight. Somebody who was eager for a piece of this fine ass.

Just as I had the thought, one of my regulars crowded my personal space and made the motion to kiss my cheek before I had the sense to back away. How dare he think he could touch this queen without her consent?

“You were spectacular tonight,” he mumbled with glazed eyes. He was already half-crocked, so I let him off the hook this time. Nothing worse than a sloppy fuck.

“Frieda Love always brings her A game,” I cooed to him over my shoulder. “Better get yourself a cab ride home.”

BOOK: The Hardest Fall (Roadmap to Your Heart Book 3)
10.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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