Alex has had a crush on his scene partner, Jack, since the first day of rehearsal. He loves the theater and getting to perform Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is a dream come true for him, but he can’t stay focused long enough to learn his lines with Jack around. When they get together to rehearse one of the hottest scenes in the play, it could be Alex’s one shot to convince Jack to give him a chance.
Alex frowned in the bathroom mirror and leaned forward over the sink to fix the short strands at the front of his hair. Of course his unruly spikes would choose today of all days to act up. It almost made him want to shave his head again. Almost. He’d tried it once in high school with everyone else in the drama department as a fundraising event. It hadn’t been a good look for him back then and his angular features hadn’t changed much since. His doorbell rang, and with a nervous gulp Alex turned away from his mirror.
When a knock quickly followed the ring he ran down the stairs, taking them a few at a time until he skidded in his socked feet on the slate entryway. Alex took a breath to calm his racing nerves, put on a smile he hoped didn’t look crazy, and opened the door.
Jack, his scene partner, stood on the front porch looking expectant and more than a little confused as the bright afternoon sunlight washed through his messy brown hair.
“Hey,” Alex said, leaning forward on the door frame.
Jack shifted his weight, and his smile appeared cautious as he said, “Hi.”
Like an idiot, Alex kept standing there watching as the sunlight made patterns in his hair.
“So...” Jack started.
Alex’s smile grew. “So.” Jack really was good looking. Slim with wide shoulders and muscular arms. Jack had won state in college as a swimmer, and Alex knew he still visited the pool regularly. Adding to the mix was Jack’s beautiful hazel eyes, almost the color of butternut squash. Alex had felt like a goner as soon as he’d made the connection between Jack’s eyes and his favorite type of soup. As usual, Alex struggled to fight hard against the urge to sigh just from looking at him.
“Can I come in?” Jack asked, rocking back on his heels.
Alex blushed brightly. “Sure. Yeah. Of course.” He quickly got out of the way, nearly stumbling over the haphazard pile of shoes he kept by the front door. “I mean, that would help, right? We can’t really go over our scene out here on the porch now, can we?”
With a squeak he realized he was rambling and forced his lips tightly together, hoping no more stupidity would fall out if he could only keep his mouth shut.
To his credit Jack didn’t laugh at him as he stepped inside and closed the door behind himself. “So this scene we’re in,” Jack said, “not sure why you wanted to go over it. Not like we have any lines or anything.”
Alex nodded. “Yeah, but it’s important still. Claudio feels betrayed, and this is kind of the catalyst for what he does later on.” He hoped Jack fell for that idea. Sure, it was a crappy explanation, and he could have done a whole hell of a lot better. Maybe. He’d been trying to come up with something more than that for the past four hours, ever since he’d texted Jack and asked him to come over to work on the scene with him. Of course he’d regretted it and felt embarrassed as soon as he’d pressed the send button. He hadn’t actually expected Jack to accept his invitation.
Jack smiled, and the tips of his perfectly white teeth poked through. “True. But at the same time, it’s just a sex scene. And a fake one at that.”
Alex bit the inside of his cheek. And that was the problem with the one scene he had with the man he’d had a crush on since the first day he’d walked into the community theater and tried out for a spot in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. “Yeah, but it should be believable right? So I thought a bit of practice might be good.” His face was on fire as he ducked his chin. “Might be less awkward at least,” he mumbled.
Three months earlier, Jack had been the hottie boyfriend of the director. Everyone expected him to get the part of Claudio, or at the very least Don John. But instead he’d been cast as Don John’s friend, Borachio, even before Jack had broken things off with the director.
Alex had thought nothing of being cast as Hero’s maid, Margaret, in the all gay cast until he remembered one very specific scene. That had been the first week of rehearsals. Now he couldn’t look at Jack without thinking about how they’d have to pretend to have sex on stage while everyone watched. Including Jack’s ex.
Jack shrugged and unzipped his light coat. “Sure.” He placed it on the dining room table. “So what were you thinking?”
Alex’s licked his lips. “Uh. Thinking?”
Smiling, Jack nodded. “Yeah. My lines in this scene are simply to call you Hero so that Claudio gets the wrong idea and thinks his future wife is cheating on him just days before the wedding. Your directions are a bit more ambiguous.”
Blushing brightly, Alex tried looking at anything but Jack. “Yeah. Moaning isn’t really a good line. The script actually says to make it sound good.”
Jack laughed and shook his head. “No it doesn’t.”
Though he was still blushing fiercely Alex picked up the script off the table where he’d left it the night before. “Yeah it does. Look.” He handed it over to Jack who took it after a moment of hesitation. “Page two thirty-one, Act—”
“I know what act it is,” Jack said offhandedly as he flipped through the thick script. It was filled with Alex’s scribbled notes, most of them in his favorite sparkly blue pen. “Uh, it really does. Along with a little side note here that says try not to moan Jack’s name.” He put the script back down between them. “Your note or the director’s?” he asked, his voice sounding harsh.