I hate bars. I always have. I’ve never been that kind of gay. Bars like the Red Carpet Lounge made me nervous. Partly, it was the atmosphere: dark, smoky, stinking of cigarettes and constantly buzzing with noise either from the too-loud P.A. or from the conversations of the patrons. Partly, it was the people: a mixture of skinny ultra-hip college kids in flannel shirts and expensive jeans, thirtysomethings in their khakis and Polos, and a few drunk middle-aged couples, all of them boisterously loud.
I had no business in a bar. I thought of the 6-month sobriety chip on the keyring in my pocket, and shuddered. There was a part, a very big part, of me that was screaming for just a drop, just one drop of bourbon, preferably Knob Creek if they had it, Maker’s Mark if they didn’t. Hell, I’d even suffer through Buffalo Trace at this point if I had to. I shivered despite the warmth of the bar and the heft of my leather jacket. I’m always cold, which is, I guess, part of the package of being me: 140 pounds soaking wet, 5’6, fair-haired and skinned. Two things in this life had ever warmed me up: bourbon and…
I gasped as I saw a flash of auburn hair. I arched in my seat, craning my neck to see…no. Not him. It wasn’t HIM. I settled back into my chair, my heart pounding in my chest, suddenly acutely aware of my aloneness. I was a little afraid of the intensity of my feelings, the anxiousness with which I had searched the crowd for HIM.
It had been two years since I’d seen his face. Shared history and lots of pain had etched it pretty clearly in my mind, so I wasn’t likely to forget it. His eyes…Christ, his eyes. I closed my eyes and I could remember what it felt like for them to look at me, so full of love and trust. They were the color of Christmas casino şirketleri trees and the grass outside my home…our home. That’s how I chose to remember those eyes, not like the last time they looked at me: hurt, confused, defeated, and God help me, full of tears.
For half a second, I was nearly crushed under the weight of utter self-loathing. I resisted and slipped out from beneath it, mostly unscathed. My psychologist, Dena, would be pleased. I used to disappear for days under that black cloud, mostly when I thought about him. Tommy Templeton, literally the only man I’d ever loved.
So there I sat. In a bar. Not drinking. Picking at the crackling finish on my table.
“Hey darlin’,” a buxom and beautiful, if a little thick, waitress interrupted my introspection, passing me a draft beer, “the lady at the end of the bar bought this for you.”
I didn’t bother looking up at the bar or the waitress. I tried not to look at the beer. The lady who had purchased me the drink was easier to ignore than the drink. I fingered the sobriety chip in my pocket again. I shouldn’t even be here, I thought to myself.
“I don’t drink,” I said, pushing the drink away, “but thanks.”
The waitress eyed me skeptically.
“You take a wrong turn somewhere, darlin’? It’s a funny place to come to if you ain’t drinkin’.”
I frowned and looked toward the empty stage in the corner.
“Oh,” the waitress nodded knowingly, “you came for the band. Well, trust me. You’ll want a drink when they’re through. Everybody does.”
“Hell no!” she scoffed stepping back, an incredulous look on her face, “they’re fuckin’ amazing. Have you not heard Tommy and the boys play before?”
Something inside of me tensed up at his name.
“Oh, casino firmaları I’m sorry,” she laughed, “I didn’t mean to imply they were…Hell, Tommy is the best damn thing in Birmingham. You watch it. He’ll be a big star soon.”
She said it with a dreamy, reverent quality that I could relate to. People got that way around Tommy. I’d never seen someone react that way over his music, but I’d seen more than my share of ladies swoon at the feet of Tommy. See, there’s something intrinsically good about him. It’s like…shit, I don’t know. You know those people who make you nervous because they’re too good to be true? Tommy’s like that. Too good to be true, I mean.
The waitress sighed deeply and shook her head as if to clear the cobwebs and took my beer back, shaking her head, then glancing over to the lady who’d bought it for me.
“Well,” she said, “handsome guy like you, she’ll sure be disappointed.”
“Please thank her for me, but…”
The waitress grinned as if she thought she could read my mind.
“You’re taken, huh?”
In a way, I’d been “taken” since I was thirteen. That was when I met Tommy, anyway.
I smiled noncommittally, and she nodded approvingly, muttered something about how nice it was to see people being faithful, and ambled back toward the bar.
I glanced down at my watch and saw that it was already a quarter of nine, with the band slated to play at 9:30. My heart started beating fast again. I looked back up from my watch and my heart caught in my chest. It was him. HIM. I felt like flying. I felt like vomiting. I felt like running away and forgetting the whole thing, but then I saw him look out over the crowd and that smile, that crooked, rakish, boyish grin stretched across his güvenilir casino face, and I couldn’t move.
He looked…damn, he looked good enough to eat, all 6’4 of him. His hair was longer now, mop of russet-not quite brown, and not quite red-that framed his face in curls and waves. Even in the dark bar, I could see his omnipresent stubble of a beard. He liked to say he thought it made him look sexy (and he was right), but I happened to know the boy hated shaving with a passion, hated the feel of a razor against his skin, so he just kept it all neatly trimmed.
He was thinner than the last time I’d seen him, but his big, barrel-chested frame still filled out the long-sleeved flannel shirt he wore in a way that made me light-headed, and though it was too dark to see much else, I was content in the knowledge that, well hell…I’d already seen him naked. That didn’t help the barely-restrained hunger I was keeping locked up in the back of my mind. I could feel my body responding to just seeing him. Shit. It had been too long. Way too long.
So I lusted. I lusted at the ease with which he carelessly flung his guitar strap over his shoulder, knowing from experience how good it felt to be cradled in his arms. I lusted at how his lips brushed so desperately close to the mic, knowing how amazing his kisses were. I lusted over the jeans that clung so tightly to his hips and his long, long legs, wish that it was my arms wrapped around his waist.
Good god, he was so deep under my skin that he had practically crawled down into my bones even after two years. He pushed his hair back from his face and leaned over to talk to his drummer, a youngish black man with a shaved head. I didn’t recognize him or the other pale guy who picked up the bass guitar and sat down on a wooden stool to tune it. A few tentative drumbeats and clicks from amplifiers turning on announced that the band would be starting soon, and the hush that fell over the crowd both surprised and excited me.
The show, it appeared, was about to begin.