Cade looked ridiculous. His body, in top shape from his love affair with pumping iron, was as tight as ever; but he had twisted it into an awkward pose as he tried to one-handed coax his longish black hair into a bandana while simultaneously attempting to clasp his spiked cuff with the hand it adorned. Since his fingers weren't alien length, his multitasking was hardcore failing. The boy needed a knight. I stepped forward, furtively surveying our shed-sized dressing room to confirm that we were indeed alone.
Our band, Rim Shot, was balls-deep into our sixth tour stop. Tonight we were playing at Sledgehammer in Orlando. Gig-wise, it was so far, so good (despite our relentless partying). The crowds dug us; the venues sang our praises for bringing in customers and cleaning up after ourselves; our onstage chemistry was fire. Regarding Cade, I wasn't planning on making a move any time soon, as it would’ve fucked up Rim Shot’s groove. At the same time, I couldn't help hogging him all to myself whenever the opp arose. Too often our bandmates, Rem, Clive, and particularly Ashley would steal his attention, and then I'd be forced to act the fool to drag his focus back to me. I habitually made an ass out of myself when the others were around.
Now I seized the chance to impress him with a feat of chivalry.
"Here, let me do it." Sighing, I swatted the bandana away from his hand in faux frustration. "You're super uncoordinated."
"You should talk. You're the one who's always tripping over his own feet."
After securing his cuff, Cade leaned down a couple of inches; at eye level, he presented the bandana to me. As I prepared to tie it, I noticed a strange look on his face. Up close, I could see all the noun-like colors in his hazel eyes: cornflower, lemon, meadow, and chocolate. His kaleidescopic beauties roved my face, searching for…what, exactly?
Licking his lips, he said, "Your skin's really cleared up."
Fortunately, I'm not pathetic enough to appreciate backhanded compliments.
"Hey, what's this?" I asked, narrowing my eyes.
"Huh?" he breathed in a voice lower than his normal baritone.
Gently I grazed my thumb over his upper lip, my spine tingling when I made contact with his stubble-roughened skin. My touch lingered. “This.”
He looked confused but didn't pull away. With a start, I realized I was close to telling on myself. Since I'd met him, Cade had kept a certain physical and emotional distance from me. His wall was constructed of stony expressions and stiff body language, well-timed scowls and an intimidating death stare. There's a lot you learn about someone after nine years of friendship—and in this moment, his body language told me I had a chance of knocking down his defenses.
My gut, however, warned me it wasn't the right time to test the strength of Cade's resistance to my considerable charms. I composed myself and suddenly flicked the tip of his nose. The look of surprise on his face was priceless.
"Got ya!" I snickered. "You're so gullible."
His expression fluctuated between surprise and anger, ending with a brief flash of hurt and...disappointment? I told myself I must've been seeing things. Wishful thinking + constant fantasizing = total delusion.
He yanked the bandana out of my hand. "Fuck off, Edan."
"Don't be such a twat. I was just screwing with you."
I reached out, attempting to mollify him, but he'd already turned his back on me. With a few forceful tugs, he donned the bandana.
"Dudes, we're gonna get so plastered after tonight's show!" Ashley's tenor trilled from the doorway.
Rim Shot's lead guitarist bounded into the room like a human pogo stick and pounced on Cade, nearly toppling them both to the ground. I gritted my teeth and tried not to bark when Cade clasped him in a loose embrace.
"And that's exciting because...?"
"I'm an irresistible drunk!" Ashley pronounced, preening just for the heck of it.
Cade chuckled. "Yeah, when you're passed out."
His moodiness had spontaneously vanished upon Ashley's arrival. Apparently, Cade's ideal distraction from our questionable sexual tension had arrived in the form of this long-limbed, kooky ray of sunshine. Our dear guitarist was like a punked-up Mary Poppins. A charming flamer (pejorative affectionately applied), Ashley dressed in drag more often than not, especially during concerts. He was blessed with substantial height and a beautiful face. The guys in the band loved him, even if they didn't always feel comfortable around him when he was in a flirty mood.
Of course, he wasn't the only chromatic non-straight of the group—yours truly was the pouty, proud bisexual who tended to favor cock slightly more than pussy. No shade to the ladies: I like to fuck them too; and it goes without saying tits feel nice, and they're fun to play with. When you're the lead singer of an up-and-coming rock band, groupies (all genders) will beg you to cop a feel. Ah, one of the many perks of being a front man.
"Where're Rem and Clive?" Ashley asked, looking around the room.
I rolled my eyes. "You're such a blond. They sent a group text half an hour ago. Running late, remember? Unacceptable behavior, if you ask me."
"You should talk.” He jabbed me in the ribs with a ruby-painted nail. "You're always late."
I skittered away from his poky digit. "Watch where you put that thing."
"I'm not sure I want to know what you guys are talking about," Rem said, shuffling into the dressing room, Clive trailing behind him.
Ashley and I shared a smirk.
"We'll tell you when you're older," Ashley said.
Cade and I snickered. Rem, twenty-four and the eldest of the band bros, looked the youngest but acted the eldest; we riffed on his baby face/daddy 'tude whenever possible. I got a real kick out of seeing Rem's cherubic cheeks turn hot pink after enduring a few minutes of our badgering. He was just fun to tease. The floppy-haired drummer and founder of Rim Shot was a conservative hippie. Although he knew that queer wasn't catching, he didn't exactly want to wax philosophical about the fact that Ashley and I both preferred sausage over sushi, nod nod, wink wink.
Rem was also the most anal guy I'd ever met (hardeeharhar). His laidback appearance masked a Type A personality—not to mention, he had serious swagger on the drums. Had he not been a total boss, Rim Shot wouldn't have entered the playing field in the first place. We were a middle-of-the-road band, but we were on our way up thanks to Rem's strategic social media marketing. Boy knew how to go viral.
“Hey, Nacho Cheese,” I called to Clive.
He grunted a wordless greeting and pointedly set his guitar case on the floor.
Clive, our rhythm guitarist, was the other undeniably straight guy in Rim Shot. This gratingly macho dude would often roll his eyes at our antics (particularly mine). A true ginger, he dyed his hair an offensive shade of orange for irony and wore a constant sneer. (Can you tell he was my least fave?)
Then there was Cade. The dark horse, the wild card—heck, Cade was just plain wild. He claimed to be a ladies' man, but I sensed he could be a man’s man too...especially when he drank too much and got notoriously touchy-feely with yours truly.
I smirked against the back of my hand. Maybe he's only gay for me.
Ashley tapped my shoulder. "Are you going to wear eyeliner, Ede?"
I shook my head. "No need. This venue is tiny. The audience will be so close, they'll see our nose hairs."
"So? Eyeliner is hot. The fans love it."
He had a point. Most of our fanbase was comprised of fun-loving, soft-core Goths who preferred rockers in touch with their feminine side (though Clive, the butchest of our bunch, certainly had a loyal following).
"Ash does look particularly lovely," Cade said, his voice rising an octave.
Our lead guitarist batted his eyelashes. "When do I not?"
I scowled. "Why don't you guys just fuck and get it over with?"
"When hell freezes over!" they both said.
Ashley yanked Cade onto the couch next to him. "Peep this picture I took of you. Frickin’ stud!"
Eagerly Cade peered at the phone. "Bro! I look like Aries in this shot."
"Pfft!" Ashley elbowed him in the side. "Don't sell yourself short, Adonis."
It was a long-running joke that Ashley and Cade would someday get it on. They’d known each other since the womb (their moms were best friends and pregnant at the same time). Though their differences outweighed their similarities, their friendship was the most solid relationship in the band. As far as I’d seen, there wasn't a single involuntary dick twitch of sexual attraction between them. Still, that didn't keep me from feeling jealous as they sat close together, knees touching, enjoying their private joke.
Feeling left out, I exited the room before anyone spied my stank face. Though Ashley was no doubt one of my closest friends, I couldn't help but think he was cockblocking Cade from me, blinding my object of desire with his safe, flirty friendship. Frankly, I was getting tired of waiting for Ashley to loosen his grip on Cade.
I snuck out the backstage door. Once I was sure no one had followed me, I reached inside my back pocket for my stash of emergency smokes and lit up. For a few peaceful minutes, the cigarette between my fingers distracted me from my one-track lusting after Cade.
Everyone's heard the wink-wink, nudge-nudge jokes about how Rim Shot's band brothers swap spit offstage, but what happens when the rumors ring with the zing of truth?
Edan's as bisexual as David Bowie, but definitely not as cool.
Cade's allegedly straight, but maybe he's still figuring things out.
Ashley's the gayest shade of rainbow, and only has eyes for Edan.
Clive and Rem are straight, and not even a little homophobic.
On their sophomore tour, Rim Shot's fivesome coasts through the highs and lows of life on the road. Bad coffee. Wicked hangovers. Handsy groupies. What's worse: romance might be a-brewing between lead guitarist Ashley and front man Edan...but more likely it's hormones. (God forbid anyone falls in love!) To top it all off, Edan's nursing a wicked one-sided (?) crush on Cade, the seductive bassist. Throw in an exasperated band leader and a wise-cracking rhythm guitarist and watch a perfect storm build until it bursts.
Can Rim Shot survive their own drama and seize the spotlight, or will they join the ranks of one-hit wonders as their music fades into the background?
A note of caution: if you're looking for a flowery cuddle-fest, you'd be better off donning a terry cloth robe, petting a Persian pussycat, or burrowing into a body blanket. This story is raunchy, ridiculous, & only romantic in the loosest definition of the word. Please don't bother reading BARE POSSIBILITIES if you're easily offended, squeamish, or prudish. Save yourselves!
Cover art, story banner, and custom ad (for my free read CRIMSON) created on Canva.
Royalty-free image credit: ID 72781170 by Zegers06|Dreamstime.com