Turns out life as a drag queen isn't what Shawn thought it would be. He loves the costumes and dressing up, but he's found he's better suited to performing from a script than vamping onstage. Too bad Shawn figured this out long after breaking up with Roscoe when his bossy director boyfriend told him he didn't have what it would take.
Two years later, Shawn may not be wildly happy but he's content. That is until Roscoe shows up to ask him to reprise his role as Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Roscoe is as magnetic as he's always been and the spark between them is still burning bright.
When Roscoe turns on the charm for a more personal reunion, can Shawn resist? Does he even want to?
This short story is part of the ENCORE! ENCORE! anthology.
Someone was watching him. That wouldn't be so odd if he was onstage, but he was in a deserted dressing room. Shawn stopped mopping cold cream from his face and looked toward the dressing room doorway.
Ms. Tyken stood there in all her sequined glory. Without the bouffant wig and the three inch heels, the drag queen was five-feet even if she was an inch but once she started talking, you'd swear she was all of six foot. Tonight she wore a vivid yellow and black evening gown that brought to mind a shimmering bee. The black wig atop her head had been threaded through with yellow ribbons and had even been fashioned to a stylized curved point high above her head to resemble a stinger. Heavy makeup almost disguised the fact that Ms. Tyken was no longer a young queen.
Once seen, she put on a broad smile and sashayed into the room, carrying a cloud of jasmine scent with her. "Shawna, darling, did you mention once that you used to date a director?"
Inwardly, Shawn fought the immediate memories that filled his head. Had he mentioned it to her? He didn't think so. But he probably did mention it to the other girls. He shrugged, turning back to the mirror then lifting a new tissue to wipe off some more cold cream. "That's ancient history."
"Mmmm. What was his name, sugar?"
"I don't talk to him anymore."And I couldn't get you a job with him if I wanted to. He doesn't do drag queens.
"Is that fact?" Ms. Tyken trailed the two-inch talons of her right hand along the edge of the makeup table. "Wasn't it Roscoe Schroeder?"
Why did the mere mention of the man's name have to make his heart race? "That's the one."
In a rustle of skirt, Ms Tyken came to stand behind him, blocking the reflection of the rest of the room and providing extra illumination as the makeup lights bounced off her sequins. "Mmmmm. He's a handsome devil, isn't he?"
"Do you know him?"
"Oh no. Just met him tonight."
Hands freezing, Shawn glanced up at his boss. "Tonight?"
She gave him a smug, carmine-coated smile. "Mmm. He's out front. Asking for you."
Fingers pasted with black and yellow striped fake nails squeezed his shoulders. "For little ol' you, sweetie. You sure he's ancient history? Doesn't seem like the kind of man you want to let go of."
No, he wasn't. Too bad Shawn just couldn't live under his wing.
Shawn stared at his own reflection, at the cold cream smeared makeup. His hair was still encased in his wig cap. He'd already changed out of his costume into sweatpants. In short, he looked like shit. "What's he doing here?"
"He only asked for you." She stroked Shawn's shoulders. "What should I tell him?"
Go to hell? But his usual mantra didn't ring true, even in his own head. In truth, it hadn't rung true for the last few months. His righteous indignation after their breakup hadn't outlasted the winter. "Tell him..." He blinked at himself. Shit, what's he doing here? Shawn hadn't heard one peep from him in the fifteen months since he'd moved out. "Tell him I'll be out after I change."
Wise blue eyes studied him for a long moment before Ms. Tyken nodded. "Whatever you say, sugar. But you're not on the bar tonight. You could just slip out the back." Trust her to see his hesitation and respect it.
Shawn considered it only for a brief moment. Like it or not, he was curious about why Roscoe was here. "Thanks, but no. I'll be out as soon as I change."
She swatted him lightly on the shoulder, grinning wide to show professionally capped teeth in her reflection. "Don't go changing, honey. Not for any man." One heavily-lashed eye winked over a wide, lipsticked smile, then Ms. Tyken turned to leave. "I'll tell the man you'll come see him when you're good and ready."
Shawn sat alone in the dim glow provided by the frame of lights around the makeup mirror, slowly tissuing the remaining cold cream from his face. Thinking. "Don'tgo changing." Well, that was the thing with Roscoe, wasn't it? He didn't like who Shawn was, rather what Shawn was. It's what broke them up. "Don't waste your talent," Roscoe had told him when he'd professed to wanting to explore what being a drag queen was all about. According to Roscoe, drag queens were no talent hacks or over-the-top comedians with a twist. Okay, maybe those weren't his exact words but the meaning had been clear. Roscoe didn't seem to mind that Shawn liked to wear skirts and makeup, but he'd hit the roof when Shawn had wanted to explore the life for real. Shawn had done the leaving, but Roscoe's attempt to direct his personal life had made it impossible to continue living together. They hadn't spoken since Shawn had taken his meager belongings out of Roscoe's loft to find another place to live in a city he'd only lived in for two years. Shawn had grown past him, found a life, and was doing perfectly fine on his own.
So what the hell did Roscoe want now?