With Wings

The  lights go down and stage lights up. The Dark Angels have arrived. With  his come-hither voice and body made for sin, lead singer Angel Luv draws  lovers like a magnet. And when he caresses and taunts shy guitarist  Darius Stone on stage, well…it’s an act, right? But every touch lights a  fire, and every flirtatious glance chips away at Dare’s certainty that  he’s straight. No one else has so captured his imagination.


Temptation  beckons. It’s hard not to notice the want in Dare’s eyes, the way he  stares when he thinks Angel’s not watching. One wrong move might scare  him away, but a work trip to exotic Bali might be the perfect place to  let Dare explore his sexuality, with none to be the wiser. But their  “friends with benefits” pact has an expiration date, that just might  sour their friendship.

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Excerpt of With Wings

Chapter 1

The  drunks in the hole-in-the wall bar were there to get laid, not to  listen to Darius Stone play guitar with a glorified cover band. Fuck it,  he didn’t care. He pretended his twist on another band’s musical hits  was the reason a major fight hadn’t broken out in over a week and the  police hadn’t intervened in over a month. It didn’t matter that the bar  owner tried to cheat the band out of their take of the door. He was  playing in New York City, and that helped block out the negative  dialogue still powerful enough to slip around his wall of defense.


His  father’s words nagged, questioning Dare’s sanity and his moral compass  for following his rock and roll dreams. He’d heard the slurs and skewed  stereotypes a thousand times, but each insult still stung. Musicians are  nothing but a bunch of druggies and sex-depraved homos. If you’re going  to play at being a musician, at least play a respectable instrument  like the piano. You’re going to wind up in some alley OD’ed.


Not  even the abusive words Darius carried in his heart could dissuade him  from his love for the guitar. While his buddies had saved up to buy  cars, he’d put his pennies away to buy a Fender American Standard  Stratocaster electric guitar in ebony burst black. Every performance  convinced Darius he’d made the right decision. The guitar was his first  and only love.


When his eyes adjusted to the stage lights, he  raised his head and was jolted by an instant connection. The guy from  last night was back. Dressed in all black, he sat in the same seat, his  amber eyes seeming to Dare’s fingers as they played each note. Guitar  wails bridged the gap, joining them. He’d never felt so drawn to a fan,  and remained captivated by the stranger throughout the entire set.


He  closed his eyes and bent his fingers over the guitar’s strings,  stroking out one last vibrato. Fuck, he was on fire tonight. The music  injected a burst of love, mixed with lust, and the most incredible  satisfaction imaginable, with an adrenalin chaser into his blood. All  made better by the unique link he’d forged with the amber-eyed stranger.  The connection nourished something in his soul. Nothing else came close  to this kind of ecstasy—not even sex.


Fucking A, that was  awesome. He opened his eyes, but now, with the music done, he avoided  the stranger’s gaze and jumped off the tiny stage. It was weird to have  been so deeply connected with a member of the audience. He hoped the guy  didn’t get the wrong idea about him.


His gaze skated over to the  guy in black, still there. He never socialized, and waved off anyone  who approached. The guy’s focus remained on Darius, quite a feat since  the outlandish lead singer, Paul Martin, usually demanded everyone’s  attention. The shirt Paul had torn from his body, now in tatters  littering the stage, was evidence that he’d do anything to get the  audience’s love.


Darius hated most of the members of this  lazy-assed band he’d fallen in with as a temporary replacement three  years ago. On a daily basis he questioned why he’d agreed to play with a  bunch of losers who thought the name “Doesn’t Matter” ironic.


But  holy hell, he flew tonight. Until he found another band, he couldn’t  walk away from this feeling. When it was good, there was no better high.  He’d read somewhere that intermittent reinforcement was the strongest  form—he’d have to agree.


He tipped his head so a lock of hair  would hide his eyes while on stage fell forward. The same move worked  offstage as well, allowing him to stare back at the man who appeared to  be eye-fucking him.


The guy’s cool confidence could be  experienced across the room. His black-polished nails ran through his  hair, and he licked his full lips as if savoring something delicious. An  odd sensation spread through Darius, but he refused to name it. If he  were interested in guys, yeah, this would be the one for him. But Darius  was straight.


As if on cue, Paige Rimsky, college student, fan,  and his current fuck buddy, bounced over, reinforcing the simple fact of  his heterosexuality. The celebration in her voice almost erased his  unease. “I told you sitting in on the master’s class would up your game.  Your phrasing was flawless tonight. I…”


She followed his line of sight. “Oh, were you showing off for tall, dark, and yummy?”


“What? No!” Maybe a little, no, the connection was just so… Why was the guy here again?


Paige put her hands up and laughed, drawing his attention. “Don’t get defensive, Dare. I’m just asking. Hell, I’d do him.”


Dare pushed his hair out of his eyes and focused on his maybe friend.


Her teasing smile turned into a dirty giggle. “I’d do you both.”


Fuck,  rolling around in the sheets with the man in black and Paige wasn’t the  image he needed in his head. He let his hair fall back to hide his eyes  and fumbled with releasing his guitar strap. Since he’d forgotten to  unplug the instrument before jumping off the stage, the wire tangled  with his strap.


His sometimes bed partner snorted inelegantly,  standing by waiting for him to de-wire himself. “So, who is Mr. Hotness  Intensified? You think he’s as emo and sensitive as he appears?”


“No  clue.” Best not to dwell on the answer to her questions, and he didn’t  want to analyze why he’d love to know the guy. Untangled from the lead  he’d failed to unplug earlier, he reached back to put his guitar on its  stand.


“Well, he’s gorgeous. I’d fuck him.” Her voice was  probably louder than she intended, and carried to their least favorite  person.


Ace Starr, the asshole drummer of the band, came up and groped her. “You’d fuck anyone.”


“Anyone  but you. Now take your goddamned hand off my ass or I’m going to put my  fist in your fucking face.” She leaned into him and he winced.


Ouch!  Damn, crunching the asshole’s foot with her heel must have hurt like  hell. Paige had grown up in the foster care system and could take care  of herself, but Dare was sorry she had to be on guard. If he jumped to  her defense, though, she’d eviscerate him. All he could do was keep an  eye out to make sure Ace and all the other assholes that crossed her  path, in a bad way, were put in their places.


Ace released her  ass and attempted an apologetic look. “Sorry, baby cakes. Hey, why don’t  you come home with a real man tonight and not some demented elf?”


“Fuck off.” She wrapped an arm around Darius and continued to glare at numb nuts.


“Oh, honey, I would fuck you till the sun came up.” Ace used what he probably considered a sexy purr on her.


“Eww… Why would I want to do that?” Her beautiful face scrunched up, like screwing Ace was the worst possible fate.


Darius  couldn’t hold in his laughter. Paige could be a real bitch when the  situation called for it. Damn, he was just glad she liked him.


His  gaze traveled back to the man in black. The stranger sipped a liquid  with a crooked smile on his face. His expression sparkled with a little  too much glee, making Darius wonder if the guy heard more than Paige’s  outburst. Fuck. He didn’t need this right now.


Ace slunk away to  search for a bed partner with lower standards than Paige’s. She nudged  Darius. “So, my demented elf, you wanna get laid?”


Dare returned  to the stage to buy time. When he twisted back around, the guy in black  was gone, vanished. Fuck! Why did regret replace the nervous butterflies  dancing in Dare’s belly? So what if he never got the chance to speak to  the stranger?


Paige cleared her throat. She’d never had to ask twice. “So?”


No. Yes. No. “Not tonight.” He hated himself for putting a frown on her face.


“Got  a headache?” She mocked him until she glanced over at the empty table.  “Ah, say what you want, but I think you’re crushing on him.”


“I’m straight,” Dare protested.


“Whatever.  Everyone is fluid. Some people just acknowledge it easier than others.”  Spoken like a true pansexual, she was convinced everyone would be  happier being gender blind and following attraction wherever it led.  Paige taunted him, “Darius has a boy crush.