Ashley repeated himself, but this time he had the gall to make eye contact when he uttered those three terrifying words.
Oh no he didn’t, my inner sassy bitch quipped after Lash’s schmaltzy, scarily heartfelt declaration. Unlike his cock, the L word was something he’d never dared to whip out in front of me. Sure as shootin', I'd play the ignoramus to avoid an exponentially uncomfortable conversation.
“Yeah, man! Band bro love for the win!”
What began as a cheesy high five ended as a cringey air fumble when Ashley failed to give me some skin. Obviously, my attempt at playing off our guys-just-joshing-around camaraderie had failed: Lash looked like he'd just smelled a wet fart.
Crossing his arms, he gave me a look promising fire, brimstone, and other highlights of hell. “Everyone in the band loves each other, blah, blah, blah, but—”
“I do not necessarily love Cade. Or Rem, for that matter,” I protested, trying to distract him with my bullshit. “Wait! I do love Rem, but only when he’s drunk. As for Clive, my brotherly feelings of kinship definitely don't extend to him. For one, he’s unbearably sneaky.”
“Stop being a hater.” Ashley reached for his hastily discarded garments.
A part of me protested this motion: a fully dressed Lash was infinitely more menacing than a bare-assed one. Clothes made him look even taller, and made me feel much shorter than my five-foot-six-in-shoes stature.
“Well, at least I’m not a player hater," I retorted, stalling for time with more verbal vomit.
Ashley sighed and crossed his arms. “You haven’t said it back.”
Damn! So he was inside my head! I thought I'd heard an extra voice in there somewhere.
I scrunched my nose and performed my best impersonation of confusion. “Says who?”
“Edan, I’m trying to tell you I’m in love with you.”
At the last second, I stopped myself from screaming “No!” in slow-mo. This was so...un-good.
“Last call for vocal warm-ups!” Rem’s voice barked over intercom.
Saved by the motherfuckin’ bell. I decided that I did love a sober Rem after all, but only when he unknowingly came to my rescue.
Ashley buttoned his remaining buttons and gave a saucy hair flip, as if he hadn’t just drop-kicked a pile of bricks onto my heads (yes, both). About ten seconds of silence later, I realized with hangover-sluggish horror that he was awaiting my response. Though my bedroom skills were superior to most, my bedside manner left much to be desired—especially when it came to delivering grave news. (“I’m sorry, Lash,” I imagined myself saying, “but loving me is terminal.”)
Rather than ripping the Band-Aid off Ashley’s wounded heart, I plucked my shirt off the couch and took flight, bounding to the door.
“Better motor,” I called over my shoulder. “You know Rem gets all prickly if I piss him off more than once a day. See you backstage!”
Scrambling into my shirt, I made a beeline for freedom, not daring to look back. Of course, I didn’t get more than five feet down the hall before plummeting nose-first into the floor. Alas! Even when in dire straits, I couldn’t manage to keep one foot in front of the other. I limped backstage before Ashley could catch up. Thank the Devil! Touchy-feely stuff wasn’t my forte. Touching, definitely. And feeling up, absolutely. But L-O-V-E...what the fuck was that?
As I fussed over my liner and lipstick (smudged during my
latest lay), I belted out scales, mentally scheming of ways to either steal or
alter Lash’s short-term memory. Minutes slipped into an hour; I was suddenly
backstage, holding hands with Rem as we huddled in a group circle, wondering
how I got there in the first place.
Ashley was acting completely normal, if a little hyper. He kept elbowing Clive and tickling Rem; to make matters worse, he kept scrutinizing me with a suspiciously school-principal expression on his face, as if he were chastising me for naughty behavior. Strangely, he didn’t seem too worried about my earlier escape. Maybe I’d underestimated his ability to deceive me. Perhaps he’s loved me all along. Now there was a truly terrifying thought. I was nauseated—this situation was all kinds of fucked up. Something like guilt started to niggle me...perhaps this self-inflicted boo-boo needed more than self-medication and superfluous sex to heal it.
Clive’s indignant voice interrupted my musing: “Where the hell's Cade?”
I want to say that I didn’t gasp melodramatically at the mention of my crush's name (but then you might as well call me Pinocchio). Everyone stared at me as if my fly were down. I opened my mouth to crack some inane joke about my soap-opera-worthy reaction, but shut it when Cade appeared from around the corner.
“Sorry guys. I was on the crapper,” he muttered.
Clive chuckled, Ashley fidgeted, and Rem rolled his eyes. I merely stared, content to be in my lust object’s proximity even though he still wouldn't look at me.
Rem gestured to Cade to join our circle (jerk, haha). “I’m so glad for you, dude. Now grab Edan’s hand so we can complete our ritual.”
After a moment’s hesitation, Cade shuffled toward me like a zombie. He looked as hot as ever, but his expression was so...melancholic. Still, he had but to say the word, and I'd bend him over, lickety-split. Smirking, I temporarily discarded my yucky guilt-inspired morals when Cade gripped my wrist, stubbornly refusing to hold hands. Clearly, he was still “mad” at me—if that was what he wanted to call it.
Rem started rambling on about Rim Shot's trials and triumphs. As usual, I tuned him out, instead focusing on the total body high of Cade’s skin against mine. With each passing second, I further restrained myself from tackling him. He was just too yummy; I wondered how he would taste. Saltier in some places, sweeter in others, maybe a little spicy if I played my cards right...
I got so turned-on fantasizing about all the ways I'd mark Cade as my territory. To make matters worse, I happened to glance at Ashley as my pants tented. He was staring at my crotch, frowning like he knew the culprit of my quasi boner was his best friend. Luckily Rem chose that exact moment to end his pep talk. For the second time that evening, he'd unwittingly saved my ass from certain doom. I reminded myself to do something nice for him later, like refrain from stealing his hair wax for at least 24 hours.
“Let’s do our best, guys! Break a leg!” he cried.
We cheered in rough, manly voices and threw our hands up in the hair. Cade detached himself from me so rapidly, I searched my wrist for signs of a snake bite.
“Yeah, good show to you, too,” I muttered under my breath.
As I watched him scurry away, Ashley tapped me on the shoulder. “We need to talk.”
Peering into his eyes, I saw no ruse, no clever trick hidden up his sleeve. I saw only want, need, and worst of all, puppy love. Heart sinking, I realized I had no choice but to let him down easy before things got more out of hand. Still, I hated to relinquish his tight ass. Maybe, if I played my cards right, he'd give me a farewell fuck.
“Meet me in our room after the concert tonight,” I whispered in a flirtatious tone.
Since I was pretty sure this would be my last time inside him, I wanted to savor him in the comfort of a bed. Tomorrow we’d be on the road again. If luck were in my favor, I’d get to bunk with Cade...mm.
“We’re supposed to go out with the others to celebrate,” Ashley protested.
“I know, but the hotel is close. We can be in and out.” I righthand signed the letter F and stuck my left middle finger through it.
“But we might take too long,” he argued, ignoring my amazing ASL-alphabet wit. “You know we have the tendency to get distracted.”
Winking, I straightened my rad 80s gold-sequined bomber jacket. “Depends on how many times you can make me come.”
At times I really was a cold-hearted, hard-cocked bastard.
Waiting in the wings for the show to begin, I pondered what I stood to lose if Cade and I took things to the next level while Ashley pined for me on the sidelines. Judging from the exasperated, yet undeniably affectionate gazes Ashley sent my way, he and I would have our rendezvous tonight as proposed. I promised myself it would be our final fuck; but I’m super talented at breaking promises.
Especially to myself.