What’s the use of being a rock legend if you have no one to share the fame and fortune with? Not that Dusty Davis is looking. He’s content taking care of himself, his bandmates, and his rambunctious younger brothers.
And while the rest of The Dark Angels are happily paired with men, Dusty can’t be gay. A night in a club brings him face to face with the woman of his dreams. J is articulate, well-read, witty, and smart. How could Dusty not finally fall?
J didn’t mean to deceive Dusty; he introduced himself as Justin, after all. He didn’t realize the drummer heard, “Justine” and missed the other cues. Dusty’s declarations of love sounded too good to be true. After all, who could possibly want someone as broken as Justin?
But the heart wants what the heart wants, and love knows no gender.
Fuck! Why was the VIP section of The Iron Club so poorly lit? Atmosphere be damned, Dusty Davis wanted to see what the hell he was drinking. The Dark Angels had just finished playing a kickass show in the venue attached to the club. Time to pay for living his dream by being a fixture at the sponsor’s after-concert party.
It was one o’clock in the damned morning; Dusty would rather be asleep in his hotel room, or at least on his laptop. That was exactly where he’d be if The Dark Angels’ manager hadn’t warned him about cutting out too early. He made do with his iPod and cell phone for entertainment. At least he could get a decent Wi-Fi signal.
Sigh. Here he was, living the dream, but he couldn’t seem to appreciate everything this fantasy offered. He was blessed, living a charmed life, some might say, as the drummer for The Dark Angels. Fuck, lead singer Angel Luv had been his best friend since grade school. He and Angel had gotten everything they’d ever dreamed of while growing up on the unlucky side of poor: fortune, fame, and chicks.
Well, Angel had more dudes than chicks. Though, now the singer had just one guy in particular—their guitar player. But thank Heavens so far the couple hadn’t screwed up the group. Dusty would never admit it out loud, but Darius Stone was good for Angel.
Dusty still had to adjust to the fact that Angel wasn’t always available to hang out anymore. He tried not to be a third wheel. Hell, fifth wheel now that their keyboard player, Robin, and bass player, Josh, finally got their heads out of their asses.
He squinted out onto the dance floor and found the two youngest members of the band. They danced, if practicing the Kama Sutra with their clothing on could be called dancing. He patted himself on the back. He’d been right. The keyboard player’s fear of abandonment abated with the whole collaring thing. He’d been sure the kid just needed Josh to step up to provide some stabilization, and ta da! Maybe Dusty should be a matchmaker.
He gave them a salute and they waved to him. A quick glance around confirmed Darius and Angel must be someplace, doing something they shouldn’t be doing at the party. Heh. Maybe he should rat them out to Megan, the band’s manager, but she appeared to be enjoying the attention of one of the sponsor’s sons. He wouldn’t cock block her for his own amusement. Was it called cock block when the friend in question was female?
Everyone else was paired up like animals on the ark. The stab of loneliness he usually got at these shindigs came right on cue. He loved each and every one of the idiots in The Dark Angels, and they returned the sentiment. He was happy they’d each found love, he really was, but that didn’t stop him from aching for something he would probably never find.
Truth be told, it might be his own fault he sat here alone at this, and any other, party he had attended. He’d effectively chased away all the well-wishing fans who made it into the VIP section. Dusty didn’t claim to be a philosopher, but he always found being alone had less to do with the proximity of other people and more to do with not having what he wanted. What exactly did he want?
Damn, no more beer for him!
If he were honest with himself, he couldn’t find what he refused to look for… Hell, he wasn’t even sure of what he was trying to find. At times, when his guard was down, he thought Angel might be right. Even though he’d only had sex with women, he might not be perfectly straight.
With a mother who grew more religious with each passing Sunday, exploring his orientation would bring nothing but trouble. He ignored his sexuality as he’d done for years.
That heavy thought didn’t have a chance to weigh him down. A drunken television star weaved her way over to him. “Hey, Dusty.”
“Hi.” What was her name?
“I love The Dark Angels and I think you’re great.”
You have no clue as to who I am. Dusty found himself doing what he always did: he smiled and nodded until they left him the fuck alone.
“Well, hey um… you wanna go to my place? I live…” She giggled.
“Some place lovely, I’m sure,” Dusty helped her. Poor thing.
“So yeah, should we get out of here?” She pushed back her shoulder-length hair.
“Sorry, I can’t.” Dear Lord, did people actually pair up with people they’d just met? No conversation, no getting to know each other? Just hopping in bed with a stranger? Of course they did, but he didn’t. Maybe he was demi-sexual.
Fucking Angel! He’d been so proud to share his opinion that Dusty was ‘demi-sexual’. The guy acted like he’d discovered the Sexuality Fluidity Project’s label himself. Angel lectured him on ‘demi-sexual’. Dusty couldn’t deny he fit the definition as someone who needed to have a strong emotional connection before he could experience sexual attraction.
The actress scrunched her face into a grimace. “No worries.” She headed directly over to the next available guy.
Damn, she was lovely and seemed nice enough. What was Dusty searching for in a potential mate? Hmmm, way to pick a gender-neutral title. He wanted someone smart, kind, and funny. He wanted to have wonderful sex with his best friend. Not Angel! Ew! No, he wanted a new best friend; one he could spend the rest of his life loving.
A few minutes later, the woman who’d given up on him strutted past as if she’d won the debate, clinging to a man’s arm. Dusty saluted her with his bottle of beer and hoped she found happiness.
Maybe he was a fucked up romantic, but he believed in love at first sight. Fairy tale bullshit or not, if he met the person meant for him he’d know it immediately. He just hoped like hell that person was a woman. There’d be a whole lot less trouble that way.
Whatever. He was never one to lament about things he couldn’t change. He’d dealt this long, he didn’t sweat it. Dusty glanced around the shadowy, loud club.
He finished off another bottle of beer, which was rapidly replaced by efficient waitress who gave beers and a friendly smile but understood his disdain for idle chitchat. Tonight, he’d allowed himself a couple more beers than usual and was feeling no pain. He probably should have listened to the band’s doting manager and eaten something so he was less buzzed.
But fuck it. They were celebrating, after all. Their new album had outsold their first two. The Dark Angels’ second US tour was so successful they’d announced today that they were going on an international.
Actually, in a few hours they were due on a plane. Their label had set up a press conference for them and several television interviews. California was their first stop before they left for overseas.
Shouldn’t he be rejoicing? Pouting about things he couldn’t have wasn’t very productive. He had everything most people wanted. Why couldn’t he be happy?
In truth, he’d never gotten into the whole groupie scene. More evidence that I’m demi-sexual, or just that I’m selective in my bed partner? Hell, he wasn’t even sure when he’d last had a bed partner. It was at least a couple of years, maybe longer. Even then it had only been an awkward one-night thing.
Angel blamed Karen, Dusty’s high school girlfriend, for making him gun shy. She might’ve been one of the reasons why he shied away from intimacy. Once burned, he’d learned never to trust anyone like that again.
The conniving little witch had nearly ruined his life with her trumped-up pregnancy. He’d almost dropped out of school to marry her. Luckily, Angel had saved his ass with reality.
His phone buzzed, and chimed immediately again. Two texts—must be his brothers fighting. He held out his phone. Maybe he should start using his glasses. He made the print bigger. Ah, it was the troublesome twosome.
”Jordon is sexting,” his middle brother Zack claimed through the message.
Jordon’s retort made Dusty laugh. Of course the fifteen-year- old was sexting; he had his mind on his zipper twenty-four/seven. Dusty lectured, he warned, and he’d threatened.
What else could he do? He inhaled deeply. Time to play big brother.
“Sexting is dangerous. Do you even know who it is?”
As expected, two texts came immediately: ” “No!” and “YES!”
“Stop! Serious!”’ Damn it! Had the kid heard anything he’d said? No, Jordon’s hormones weren’t allowing him to hear the warnings. The kid was going to get himself into a bad situation.
“I do know him,” Jordon whined through his text.
Within seconds, Zack added his two cents, “F-booking doesn’t count as knowing some 1!”
“Should I take ur technology, Jordon?” Dusty asked.
He’d gotten his little brothers the latest and greatest phones and laptops for the holidays, so they could always be in touch with him. The gifts had come with the understanding that they weren’t to do dumb shit like this.
“No. Stopped. Ok?” Jordon wrote.
“He stopped. Thanks,” Zack verified.
“Behave. Don’t want u hurt,” Dusty typed.
Why couldn’t Jordon be more like Zack? His middle brother had made it through puberty without a moment of drama.Good Lord, Dusty didn’t quite know what to do. Trying to be the “dad” when he was barely ten years older than his brothers sucked, but maybe the old man left because he didn’t know any more than Dusty did. The fact his brothers might be gay didn’t help matters much.
Having Angel as his best friend helped Dusty to deal with his overly expressive youngest brother’s interest in the same sex, but his middle brother seemed to be locked into the closet. Although not exactly healthy, Zack staying low key about his sexuality made it easier for him to avoid detection by his mom.
Shit! Dusty hated to think what would happen if his mom even found out his brothers’ orientation. She’d go around the bend if she had a clue her sons were what her loony church friends considered an abomination. Fuck, is it any wonder why he had never explored his own preferences?
Mmmm, what was that smell? Dusty inhaled a blend of vanilla and amber. A sultry voice gave him chills. “So, I have a question.”
Dusty turned. The glow of his cell phone allowed him to lock gazes with the most bewitching, stormy grey eyes he’d ever seen. Wow, um…a… He pulled his head out of his ass to speak. “Please. Ask me anything.”
A grin quirked to the side of this alluring creature’s mouth as she asked, “Kirk or Picard?”
Dusty tried to blink the dark room into better focus. Who was this? He expected the typical questions like: What’s it like to play with The Dark Angels? What’s Angel really like? What’s your favorite song? You want to take me home? Or some general variation of icebreakers to which Dusty already had any number of answers ready.
“Picard. Kirk was a moron with too many hormones to be an effective leader.” A big-time closet sci-fi geek, he blurted out the response too quickly to hide his nerdiness.
“Good answer. Agreed.” The answering smile made him want to do a happy dance. Before he managed so much as a two-step, the alluring blonde asked, “Lexx?”
Impressive that someone he hadn’t forced or bribed to watch the cheesy sci-fi drama asked about his favorite show. “I worship his shadow,” Dusty responded, quoting Tales from the Darkside. “Question?”
Expressive eyes blinked once. The beauty nodded. “Answer?”
Dusty thought the vision in front of him said, “Justin”. That couldn’t be right. The noisy din of the crowd made it difficult to hear the lovely creature in the Asian dress.“Justine?” Wait, he’d seen her! He recognized her from her profile picture. “Wait. Are you DarkJustine28?”
Slowly she leaned in close to his ear to breathe the words, “Call me J.”
“Hey, you’re one of the writers on The Dark Angels’ fan fiction site.” Wow, it had to be her. Her stories were sexually creative, hot, and not just because they were always very flattering toward him.
Dusty inhaled her scent; he loved the intoxicating mix of amber and vanilla.
“You actually read it?” Her surprised expression gave way to a mischievousness gleam.
Dusty admitted the truth with a nod as he took in her appearance. Her look was interesting, not the usual slut wear Dusty saw most women sported in the clubs. J wore a short, grey Chinese dress to match those mesmerizing huge stormy eyes. Low heels let her move easily. J would come right up to Dusty’s chin if he were standing. The cut of the dress showed off a trim, lean figure and had splits up the sides, giving glimpses of awesome legs.
“Of course. Your stories are great, and that’s not just because you’re a Boston Red Sox fan.” Although, having her pull for his team helped.
“They’ve had quite a season so far. I think we’re on a roll.”
“Definitely,” Dusty agreed and moved a bit closer.
J didn’t have much on top, but if the truth be told, Dusty was actually an ass man and, from what he could see, J had quite a backside. Even in the demure dress, her butt made a firm mound beneath the fabric. He wanted to grab it in both hands.
Wait? Really? So not like him. Especially within five minutes of meeting someone. J’s hair hung in long blonde waves around a sweet, oval face. In a word, J was delicious. Everything about her called to Dusty on a basic level.
And Dusty wanted more than anything to answer.