Sex. Drugs. Rock 'n Roll. Nick Gorman's got it all. He's on top of the world, living his dream, playing guitar on stage in front of thousands of people with non-other than Marlowe. The famous singer could have had his choice of anyone to replace his former guitarist, but he picked Nick to tour with him. Now Nick's star is on the rise, all thanks to Marlowe, who's not only Nick's idol but is fast becoming a terrific friend.
In the blink of an eye, it all turns upside down. A drug-hazed time in a bed alone with Marlowe forces Nick to be aware that the rock star's interest in him is more than just friendly. Then, before he can even react to that, both singer and guitarist are in a near-fatal accident that could ruin both their careers. What now? Marlowe's in jail for two years and Nick is broken. Could they ever play together again, let alone explore the sizzling reverberations that still exist between them?
Dance music filled Nick's head, guiding the throb of his heart. His skin was alive, the merest brush of a breeze was like someone was licking his dick. Nick didn't usually dance but the drugs in his system had him gyrating and twisting with dozens of other bodies underneath the streaks of a portable strobe light. Maybe he wasn't so much dancing as just moving to the beat. That he could do. The very ground was pushing at the soles of his feet, making him move. He wasn't quite sure what to do with his hands but a few willing girls were happy to give him nice handholds. In turn, they ran soft hands and curious fingers over his bare back and arms, some taking a bit more advantage to cup his ass or slide around front to brush the bulge of his half hard cock through his jeans. Gloriously free, Nick closed his eyes, twisted, turned then buried his face in a fragrant neck as his senses expanded beyond any scope of reality.
Gradually, he grew thirsty. Marlowe's warnings purred at the back of his skull, warning him to keep hydrated. When did he finish that last bottle of water? Probably a long time ago. Anyway, he had to pee. Huh, thirsty but have to pee. Did that even make sense? Time to stop dancing. In the middle of a song he barely recognized-his brain was idly revising the horrible dance arrangement-he pulled away from the clutching hands of his dance partners and stumbled toward the edge of the gyrating crowd and beyond. One girl tried to stay with him but he told her he had to go to the john. Told her he'd see her later. Maybe he would. She was cute. And her bright orange hair smelled like exotic flowers and kind of looked it too. But now that he'd acknowledged it, his bladder was going to explode. Drunkenly, he reoriented, weaving around the crowd that filled the banquet hall.
Nick found the nearest john but the line was way too long for him to wait. Instead, he veered out the open double doors that led to the pool area then through to the nearest cabin with an open door. This one was almost empty, just one couple necking on the bed and another pair on the big chair. By the way she was straddling him and moving on his lap, they were probably having sex. He needed to try that position sometime. Nick breezed past them to the bathroom. He had to laugh when peeing felt way too good. He'd done X with Marlowe once before but this must be a stronger batch of pills because everything felt way too good. He was thinking it was time to find something else to do with his dick. Something involving a willing woman with a tight pussy.
He left and found the cool open air around the pool. Only a dozen or so party-ers sat in the lounge chairs in the swaying blue lights. One trio had a foot and a half tall blue glass bong and were filling the air with a cloud of skunk weed. Tempting, but his head was messed up enough as it was. A cigarette would be good. There was another group at a second lounger, one guy straddling it and two other guys and a girl kneeling on the pavement. They were doing lines but Nick headed for them anyway because he knew Jim would have a light he could bum. Although Nick had given up smoking a year ago, he found himself falling back on old habits on nights like this. At least he wasn't drinking too, right? Well, okay, a few beers didn't count. Jim happily gave him a smoke and asked him to join them. Nick declined but, after letting Jim light him, he lingered to listen to them talk. They mostly made no sense right after the drug hit their brain, talking way too fucking fast, but in his current state of mind he actually made sense of most of it. Inhaling, fighting the cough that came from the burn, he propped his shoulder on the iron rail pool fence to listen to Jim blather about biking. After a few minutes, Nick's attention wandered as he watched the way the pool light made dancing blue circles over their skin and brightened their hair. The girl with them was part of the crew, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt like the guys, not in lace and colors like most of the groupies. Her brown hair was cut short about her heart-shaped face and piercings shined at her lip, eyebrow and nose as well as all along the cartilage of her ears. What was her name? Yolanda. Yeah, that was it. She was pretty and looked like the kind of girl who'd take charge and ride hard. Maybeâ€¦
Someone came up behind him and plucked the cigarette from his fingers.
He blinked at his empty fingers, briefly confused. "Hey."
A chest bumped the back of his shoulder, warm skin a caress on his. He twisted his neck to the side and up to see Marlowe just as he lifted the cigarette from his lips and expelled a cloud of smoke into the night sky. The singer's blue eyes smoldered in the hazy light as he flicked the ash Nick had neglected. "I thought you were dancing."
"I was." Nick watched the orange of the flaming end burn bright as Marlowe took another drag. The lips curled around the filter were as lush as a girl's. Nick fought not to sway back to lean against his friend's chest. "I'm here now."
"Didn't know you smoked."
"I don't." He blinked slowly. "I mean, I don't anymore."
"Uh-huh." A half grin curled Marlowe's lips, smoke oozing from between them and out his nostrils. He looked like a dragon: big, seductive, dangerous. "Feeling good?"
Nick felt his own goofy grin as he banished the dragon image by wiping a hand over his face. He wasn't normally prey to flights of fancy, but tonight... "Yeah."
Marlowe stepped around Nick's side to stand in front him then bent so they were almost nose-to-nose. Light shone on the smooth fall of the loose hair that draped his shoulder. "How good?"
Nick had to pull his head back, his eyes crossing unintentionally. He laughed. "Real good."
"Excellent." Marlowe stuck the cigarette between Nick's lips and stepped back. "Come with me," he murmured, grabbing Nick's arm.
Surprised, Nick barely managed to clamp down on the cigarette with his teeth as he lost his balance. It took a few stumbling steps to catch up to Marlowe, although he couldn't have fallen thanks to the bigger man's grip. He yanked the cigarette from his mouth. "Where're we going?"
Marlowe didn't answer, just dragged him away from the pool and down the path that took them toward the darkened parking lot. Plenty of people watched but no one stopped them. Only a few people loitered around the edge of the parking lot, the cars all quiet and the desert road beyond sporting only the occasional passing car. The two tour busses sat like huge mountains at the far left of the circular lot, almost out of the sphere of light from the ugly bright fluorescents sizzling and cracking over the OFFICE sign hanging over the door of the front of the largest cabin.
Nick had his feet but his confusion remained, as did Marlowe's firm grip on his forearm. "Where're we goin'?"
Marlowe laughed and kept tugging Nick across the asphalt toward the buses. "Come on."
Nick gave up. He took one last drag of the cigarette then tossed it to the ground ahead of him so he could stomp out the butt on their way.
They reached the door of the band's bus and finally Marlowe released his arm to pull a set of keys from his pocket. He pointed a fob, pressed a button and a click sounded. The door released with a sibilant hiss.
"Whoa? Where'd you get Anton's keys?"
Marlowe gave him a mysterious smile but said nothing before he pushed the door fully open and stepped up.
"Are you coming?"
He frowned but followed. "What are we doing here?"
"We need some quiet time." Marlowe stopped at a console just behind the driver's seat and turned on the air conditioning and the ambient lighting in the front room. The purr of the generator drowned out the faint pound of music from outside. He pulled out the bag of pills and waved them under Nick's nose. "Come on."
"I don't know, man. I'm flying pretty high." Nick hedged as he followed Marlowe down the walkway past the couches and the swivel chairs surrounding a small round table.
The back room was as Marlowe had left it, the big bed taking up most of the area, covered with pillows and a few rumpled blankets. Marlowe dropped onto the center of the mattress and spread out on his side, propped on one elbow. He opened the bag and patted the mattress in front of him. "Come on. Have I ever steered you wrong?"
No. In fact, he hadn't. Nick's life since Marlowe swooped into it had been a dream. Everyone had told him he was going places, told him he was a sure thing because he had talent like his uncle, but where everyone else just talked, Marlowe actually took him places. Marlowe hadn't known him from Adam but had signed him on after hearing him play once. Well, that was also after he found out that Bobby was Nick's uncle. But even with that-or because of it, whatever-Marlowe's faith in him was vast and unwavering. A little intimidating, to be honest, but Nick was up for the challenge. Marlowe had introduced some much needed fun and mayhem into his life. As far as he was concerned, Marlowe pointed and Nick just had to go, using his God-given talents to fit the pattern Marlowe shaped.
What the hell. He was here now. He paused only long enough to flip on the stereo and set it to shuffle. "Good idea," Marlowe commented as Nick slid forward on his belly, stretching out over the plush softness of a fleece blanket as he reached for one of the pillows to stuff it under his head.
Beside him, he felt Marlowe shift, something clanked, then heard the distinct crack of a water bottle twisting open. Eyes closed, Nick imagined he could hear Marlowe drink.
Nick startled when cold wet dripped onto his bare skin. "Hey!" Still clutching his pillow, he twisted onto his back and used the pillow as defense against the bottle of water Marlowe held over him, dripping from having been in the ice box.
Marlowe laughed. "Oh come on, it's got to feel good. You're burning up."
Nick sighed, pulling the pillow up and punching it under his neck. "Yeah, I am hot." He reached for the bottle.
"You are that," Marlowe murmured, raking a gaze up Nick's chest.
Nick ignored what he said. Marlowe was always saying stuff like that. Nothing came of it if Nick ignored it. "You find a girl for the night?" he asked before putting the bottle to his lips.
Marlowe shook his head, spilling loose hair all over his shoulder, arm and the mattress beneath him. "Not yet. You?"
"Not yet." Nick sighed, propping the butt of the bottle on his sternum. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the cool in contrast to the soft warmth of the air. Dry air. Desert air. Even this relatively cool January night was hotter than Seattle where he'd lived until high school. Warmth of the body lying beside his. Close. Too close. He should probably move. He didn't want to move. This was nice.
A touch on his lips startled his eyes open. Marlowe lifted his fingers to show Nick the pill. "Open up."
"Nah. I'm good."
Marlowe's smile warmed. "You sure?"
The smile made his blood simmer, promising so much of what he knew nothing about. Despite his time going to school in Hollywood, despite his time in and around the same city trying to break into the scene, he still felt terribly naive, especially when he was around this man. Other people he mainly ignored if they didn't have something he wanted. There was no way he could ignore Marlowe. "Okay." He parted his lips and Marlowe dropped the pill onto his tongue. As Marlowe took one as well, Nick sat up just enough to take a swallow of water. When he lay back down, he let Marlowe lift the bottle from his hand. He squirmed a little to settle the pillow below his head then settled in with fingers laced over his belly, just breathing. He loved the crystal clarity of his senses on X, the focus of the muted breeze on his skin, the throb of the drum and bass in the music overhead, the earthy, sweaty scent of his friend lying beside him.
Marlowe's hand, hot and heavy, spreading over his chest opened his eyes again. Marlowe hovered over him, still leaning on one elbow, some of that abundant walnut and mahogany hair curtaining his jaw. Storm blue eyes were tinted toward midnight in the shadows as Marlowe searched Nick's face. He smiled. "I love you, man."
Nick didn't move. A part of his brain told him this should be weird. He should object. Move away. But he didn't. He couldn't. It wasn't weird. But he didn't know what to say back.
Gauging his reaction, Marlowe tilted his head to the side. "You're awesome. Truly awesome."
Nick stared into fathomless blue and felt his reserve melting away. "I love you too, man."
Marlowe nodded, his hand sliding down Nick's chest to find then gently squeeze Nick's loosely woven fingers. His warmth left a trail of goose flesh on Nick's skin. Eyes locked on Nick's, he lowered his face until his breath wafted over Nick's chin.
A twinge of reserve shot to the surface. "Marlowe?"
Nick could just see the grin, more see the swell of Marlowe's cheek as his smile widened. "Trust me." His hand squeezed Nick's fingers tighter, holding them as his lips brushed them.
Trouble was, with Nick's heightened senses, the gentle kiss was heaven. Soft as a kitten's fur with even a little purr to Marlowe's breath. Trust me. Nick heard the echo of Marlowe's words as the man's lips pressed in to deepen the kiss, rubbing the swell of his lower lip along the seam of Nick's. It was quite natural for Nick to open his mouth, his eyes closing so he could concentrate on the taste of Marlowe's breath and the wet scrape of Marlowe's tongue tracing his lips. Weird, he tried to tell himself. Wrong. But his body wouldn't listen. Truthfully, only a small part of his brain protested. When Marlowe slanted his head for a better seal on Nick's mouth, Nick yielded with a sigh. Marlowe inched closer, the heated satin of his chest pressing Nick's arm. He untangled Nick's fingers and lifted one hand, weaving his own fingers with Nick's as a soft fall of hair fell forward to drape Nick's chest. Nick breathed into the kiss, past and future melting away into an overwhelming now.