Works In Progress

Karaoke Night

[ a work in progress – subject to change]

Chapter 1

And so it begins

Aaron was hot.
Sweat ran from his hair over his temple before he wiped it away with the back of his hand. His back stuck to the vinyl upholstery of the car seat, while his fingers melted onto the leather wrap around the steering wheel. The air in his car, despite the wide open windows, felt stifling, even with the fan on blast, it was hard to catch your breath. It couldn’t have been hotter if hell itself had provided it. He couldn’t believe that the air conditioner picked today, the hottest day of the summer so far, to break.
He headed towards his Friday night job and as he drove through the heavy weekend traffic, he tried to remember a time when he had somewhere to go on a Friday night other than work.
When was the last time I’d been to the next-door neighbors for a barbecue or at one of the guy’s houses for a night of poker?
Aaron couldn’t recall. He loved what he did, it paid well and since he sold some of his songs on the side he could pick and choose what days he worked and when he could stay home and be lazy. Not that he could ever be called lazy. He had plenty to keep him occupied with writing songs and his volunteer work at the domestic abuse shelter. He found himself so busy at times that there hardly seemed to be enough hours in the day some days.
That was a good thing – being so busy to not have time to remember how his ex, Mark, had done such a number on his head. They started out with so much promise. In hindsight, he could see that it was all a part of Mark’s plan to get into his head so he could fuck with it. All those sweet dates complete with small, yet thoughtful, gifts. Those dates led to sweet fucking all night long – not being able to keep their hands and mouths off each other – only to wake in the morning to do it all over again.
He did his best to become Aaron’s everything. It all happened slowly, so slowly that he hadn’t been able to see when it started. That point where he began to pick at everything Aaron did, slowly taking over Aaron’s life, consuming him and his confidence. He’d choose what Aaron would wear, because Mark knew how best to hide Aaron’s imperfect body and wouldn’t that be better when he let Aaron go out with him in public?
Aaron didn’t want to embarrass Mark in front of his friends, did he? No, Mark just began a slow, methodical, assault on Aaron – isolating him from any outsiders and making him dependent on Mark for any crumb of attention Mark decided Aaron deserved.
Two solid years of Hell, that’s what it was, he thought to himself.
It started out so innocently, one morning as Aaron was making breakfast and Mark was getting ready for work.
“Hey babe?” Mark hollered from the bedroom, “Would you pick up my dry cleaning for me today and I want some of that Chardonnay that we had the last time Bob and Mike were over.” Mark kind of asked, but the tone seemed like more of an order than a lover’s request.
“I won’t have time to do both of those things today. I have an audition for that new car commercial today right after lunch and you know that I always spend Tuesday mornings at the nursing home visiting my Gram.”
“But sweetheart, you know that tonight is the night Bill, my boss, ‘member him? The one who makes it possible for me to take you nice places and buy you nice things? He is coming for dinner. I really need you to do this for me honey,” Mark added as he rounded the corner over to the breakfast bar where Aaron had his coffee made up just the way he liked. Aaron quietly put his egg white omelet and dry toast on the counter.
“Besides,” Mark practically sneered, “It’s not like your Grandmother knows who you are anymore. It’s not like she will miss you this one time.”
And that’s how it began the gradual separation from his family and friends. Soon, the endearments disappeared from their conversations as Aaron was further manipulated.
Why give them? Mark had him where he wanted him and knew what was best. Aaron did what Mark said because … well, because he didn’t even know. That admission caused him more pain than he wanted to admit.
Confusion and hurt became his lovers. Despite his best attempts it was all his fault, he just couldn’t make a decision that was right – not in Mark’s eyes. Aaron still wrote his songs, although their frequency steadily decreased over time until he stopped selling them. This left him completely dependent on Mark’s income and generosity to pay the bills, buy the groceries (which Mark ordered online and had delivered – because I just can’t count on you getting it right, he’d say). Mark took care of everything.
Aaron didn’t even like to go outside to get the paper. He was a prisoner in his own home and partially of his own making. Mark progressively wore him down until he was something less than a man and more like a kept pet. A source of unconditional love and devotion but completely devoid of any say in their lives.
He had worked hard at wording things to reduce any anger Mark could direct his way. And nothing ground Mark’s ass to the bone than if Aaron replied,”Whatever you say.”
His fear would rise whenever Mark would look at Aaron with pride and he would simply say, “Whatever you like, dear.”
By the time Aaron realized what was happening, he found himself so far into Mark’s world of lies and deceit he didn’t even know who he could turn to for help. He reached a point that he had to force himself to do something so simple like grooming because he just couldn’t bring himself to care. Mark didn’t look at him with desire anymore except when he decided he wanted a blowjob. Forget about any reciprocation, he just came and left Aaron to his own pleasures – alone.
Help finally came to him in the form of a petite firecracker named Rachel. Rachel was a business associate he worked with to sell his songs to aspiring artists or sometimes, if he got real lucky, he’d score a commercial or two.
She looked at him one day and flatly asked, “How long are you going to stay at that monster’s mercy?”
All Aaron could do was blink, stunned that she possessed the balls he wished he could remember to use. But she continued, unfazed by his non-answer.
“I have been your contact for five years and I’ve never seen anyone in my entire life just slowly become invisible the way you have since that man came into your life.”
Rachel couldn’t be more than five-foot-tall, if that, but her presence would make a line backer on any pro football team take a step back when she really got going. She looked at Aaron with her striking eyes and a small, delicate hand on her curvy hip. Even though Aaron was gayer than the day was long, he could appreciate Rachel’s radiant beauty. She stood there with her glossy light brown hair and a face that could have graced any magazine or runway had she been another foot taller.
Aaron snorted. If I could only be as confident as she is. Only to realize, then why can’t you?
She was curvy, but wore those curves proudly and had an inner confidence that Aaron neglected in himself.
He remembered that day while he sat sweltering in the heat sitting in his car with Satan blowing through his air conditioner and smiled. That day was the day he started to take his life back. He Left Mark that very day.
He bailed. Luckily for him, Rachel let him stay at her apartment, hiding him until he was strong enough to live on his own again, but he thanked all the Gods above that she saw what was happening and had the guts to say something. He was so thankful to her for lighting a fire under his ass and setting things right again.
But it was up to him now.
From that point on, Rachel and Aaron became inseparable. At Rachel’s prodding, they went to the county courthouse the day after Aaron left Mark to secure a protection order, guaranteeing Mark couldn’t have any contact with Aaron. They were equally surprised that they never heard a peep from the monster that tried to destroy Aaron’s life. It suddenly felt like he didn’t exist. Without much warning or fanfare, Mark left their apartment, quit his job, and put the city’s borders in his rearview mirror. Something about the way he just split always made the hair stand up on the back of Aaron’s neck whenever he thought about it. It all ended too easy. Far too easy. Though he never said, it just didn’t sit well with him. it felt off.
Aaron was startled out of his wandering thoughts by a loud horn blaring from the car directly behind him. The traffic started again, moving swifter this time compared to what he usually experienced during this time of day. He turned his blinker on, switched lanes when something caught his eye. In his rearview mirror, he could swear that he saw his ex in a car a few lengths back.
He turned his head to look more closely, but there were just too many cars and trucks for him to get a better look and he was going to cause an accident if he didn’t pay attention to where he was headed.
Besides, he thought as he took his exit, it couldn’t have been Mark. Surely that was just because he had been thinking about him and some unlucky fool happened to resemble his ex.

Chapter 2

The Set Up

After exiting the freeway traffic was a bit lighter. The air outside billowing in seemed a little fresher than the fan connected to the bowels of hell he’d had to endure while stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. At least he could take solace that he wouldn’t be a complete limp noodle once he arrived at his destination.
Aaron walked into The Corner Bar on a Friday night, much like he always did.
Only this time it was way … too … early.
The Corner Bar, was the local gathering spot that had been around for as long as Aaron could remember. It wasn’t a ‘gay bar’, but rather a bar where it just didn’t matter what you were, all were welcome here and the crowds always reflected that. Friday night was usually one of the busiest nights of the week with the crowd wanting to relax and forget about the workweek they had just put in. Adding Karaoke only seemed to add to their happiness. The bar and Aaron were famous for it, bringing people in from the far reaches of the neighborhood. Everyone had great fun competing against one another and Aaron had a way to get customers loosen up and enjoy themselves.
It wasn’t like he didn’t have anything else he could have done to not be an hour earlier than his karaoke night shift needed him to be. No, the reason for Aaron’s early appearance tonight had one name: Zeb, the Friday night bartender.
While the day still had a brightness to it outside, the bar enveloped everyone in darkness and was thankfully, blessedly cool as he walked inside, and Aaron could smell the slightly stale beer scent in the air that all bars had.. The place certainly was empty. It wouldn’t be for long though; Friday’s were typically packed and it was the dead middle of summer. The rising temperatures only guaranteed people who wanted to play within the bar’s cool confines, if anything, to escape the heat and let off a little steam while doing it. Going with his usual routine, he put his gear down in the corner by the stage. That’s when he spied Zeb out of the corner of his eye.
He’d had the hots for the studly bartender from the moment he’d laid eyes on him early last year.
Zeb embodied everything hot in a man to Aaron’s way of thinking. He had dark brown hair that Zeb always kept in the latest style. Recently, that style was extremely short on the sides and the perfect amount to get a good handful should things get randy, today he styled it artfully on top of his head in a cascading swoop that dangled fringe along the left side of his head. But it was the contrasts that Zeb possessed that drove Aaron wild. Along with that dark hair, Zeb possessed brilliant silvery blue eyes that always seemed to be smiling. Aaron loved it when people were real enough to smile with their eyes. It just made Aaron’s Friday nights when one of those smiles senthis way. Zeb always had at least one every time he saw Aaron. Sometimes, though Aaron couldn’t be absolutely certain, he thought he saw a little bit more than just a friendly grin when Zeb drank him in. Aaron didn’t know how to react when Zeb did that, but it made him quiver every damned time.
Zeb took care of himself but not abnormally so, he had well defined muscles that didn’t border on being absurdly grotesque like some body builders did. Thinking on it, he figured that it probably came from toting cases of liquor from the back room to the front of the bar all the time. Aaron watched him as he was doing just that. Usually Aaron would lose himself in staring at his favorite bartender, watching his muscles straining as he hefted the large cases back and forth. This time though, it seemed like Zeb was struggling. Aaron quickly sorted that the two stacked cases just might come tumbling down right on top of Zeb.
Aaron wasn’t a runner. He didn’t profess anything of the sort. If anything, Aaron always thought of himself as average. He was average height, average weight and average looks. Nothing extra special about him except for his voice. He had been told by many that he had the voice of an angel.
Seeing the immanent danger to his beloved bartender, he used that angelic voice of his as he shouted in alarm and dashed to Zeb’s aid with his very un-runner like, average body across the dance floor, slipping as quickly as he could through the narrow opening the wait staff used to get behind the bar. He’d arrived just in time to catch the top case as it started to fall free from its perch. Zeb gained control of his remaining case and they both put them down on the cooler that held cold beer and other beverages.
“Thanks man” Zeb said a bit breathlessly, “I would have been in trouble for sure if I would have dropped that case.”
He looked over at Aaron and gave him one of those brilliant smiles that Aaron always felt to the tips of his toes.
“I shouldn’t have tried to bring both out at once, but I heard someone out here and wanted to get out front as soon as I could. You’re even earlier than normal today, did the heat bring you in?”
Aaron turned away so Zeb couldn’t see the blush Aaron knew was creeping up his neck that surely would blossom across his face.
“Yeah, the heat,” Aaron mumbled and promptly walked back to his Karaoke gear to get ready for the night.

Just as he was finishing setting his area up, Zeb walked over to him with a huge glass of ice water
“Here you go Aaron, a little something to keep you lubricated as you sing tonight.” His eyes widened at how that could be interpreted, he quickly tried to regroup, “Um, I mean, to keep you wet. No, wait, shit! That’s not what I meant at all. Just, well … here.”
Zeb pushed the glass into Aaron’s hand and coughed and blushed as he made his way back to the bar. Aaron wasn’t prepared to see Zeb like this, all flustered and so out of character from the totally cool and together hunk he’d come to know He wondered what had affected his favorite bartender. Aaron was just about to go see if he couldn’t clear the air between them when the first customers of the night came in, stalling him. His curiosity would have to wait.
Just like clockwork, the bar was packed; it had been all night. He had barely even had a second to ogle Zeb throughout the evening. Zeb literally was running his delectable ass off. Aaron noticed that he even had to call in reinforcements to help handle the large crowd. He noticed when Patti arrived. Patti was a cute little blonde woman that rushed into the bar several hours ago, tying on an apron and taking orders before she even had the damned thing tied. Everyone seemed to be having a great time singing loud and off key. A few patrons played darts in the corner and others played pool, but the majority either sang or watched and pretended they were one of those here’s your chance at stardom shows and played judge to the barely entertaining party on stage. But this was the part Aaron loved most about his job – the way people just kind of let go and forgot their troubles for a while. The crowd consisted mostly of young people, some much younger than Aaron’s twenty-six years, with others that appeared to be slightly older.
Aaron was just about to take to the stage; all the ladies would grab a guy and do the slow drunken grind that often led to bathroom sex and parking lot blow jobs. They all left the bar happy and it wasn’t such a struggle to get the people to stop partying and go home for the night.
Patti approached him before he had set up for his song and passed him a note. It wasn’t the usual way songs were requested, but it was a good song, one he might have chosen himself. He set it up and picked up his mic.
“Ok boys and girls, we have a special request for the last song of the night. Grab someone to slow dance with and make sure to hold on tight.”
Aaron was a bit of a showman and loved the rush he got when he had the crowd doing what he told them to.
Aaron looked around, he didn’t see anyone stepping forward. He wondered which of them it was going to be as he asked the crowd, “Where’s my singer?”
“I’m all ready for you …”
Aaron turned as he spoke those words and almost swallowed his tongue when he saw Zeb standing next to him looking suddenly shy and sweet.
“Are you going to sing this?” Aaron asked as he gazed into those silver blue eyes. In this light, they looked almost like molten steel. Aaron had an epiphany right then and there. He wasn’t sure, but he knew that for some reason, Zeb was looking at him with something that couldn’t be mistaken for anything but heat and desire. Aaron was going to at least have to find out what it meant.
Zeb reached to take the mic out of Aaron’s hand at the same time Aaron reached over to his board and hit a switch, the beginning strains of Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran began to come through the speakers. Zeb stood even closer to Aaron so close in fact that he had to look up into Aaron’s eyes, and started to sing.
Holy fuck! The man should have been singing professionally instead of slinging drinks!
He couldn’t believe that this gorgeous man was singing so beautifully and to him. There was no question about Zeb’s intentions now, as Zeb used his free hand to rest on Aaron’s hip. His thumb rubbing up and down his pelvic bone sending jolts of electricity straight to Aaron’s dick. Aaron returned the caress with one of his own, his hand reaching up to brush his knuckles across Zeb’s sculpted cheek bone and down until he was gripping the man’s neck.
As Zeb sang the end of the song and the last notes died away, Aaron leaned in for his first taste of Zeb only to bump both of their mouths on the microphone. The only things that made this moment bearable was that neither man was hurt and there was no awful squeal from the mic, just a garbled oomph.
Zeb chuckled and moved the microphone away from his face allowing Aaron’s hand wrapped around Zeb’s neck to bring him closer, pulling the gorgeous singing bartender to him while zeroing in on his plump lips. Neither of the men heard the applause or wolf whistles as they came together for their first kiss. They simply were lost to the world, wrapped up in the passion of that kiss. Neither man held back either, the kiss was hungry, fiercely consuming. Teeth clashed and tongues dueled and while Aaron hands framed Zeb’s face, Zeb’s hands gripped Aarons hair tightly and they were pressed chest to chest and thigh to thigh.
Aaron swore he could taste the song in Zeb’s mouth along with the lemon water he had been drinking during the night. As the kiss deepened, he smelled a hint of Zeb’s cologne as well as the sweat from working his ass off all night. He thought he would be a happy man if he could kiss, touch and smell Zeb at his leisure for the rest of his life.
Oh Gods, they had to break apart to breathe and panted as they rested against each other’s foreheads and looked into each other’s eyes. As they came back from the lusty fog they were in, they noticed their audience, could hear the applause and reluctantly stepped away from each other. Not too far away, just far enough to get a taste all of the happy the crowd heaved upon them.
Zeb leaned back in to whisper in Aaron’s ear, “Stay and help me close tonight.”
The breath from Zeb’s words made him shiver and he knew the sexy man felt it when he saw him smirk. Aaron gave as good as he got, “You think I’m going anywhere now?”
Zeb gave a full belly laugh all the way back to the bar as he announced, “Last Call, everyone,” over the microphone.

Zeb wondered as he wiped the bar for the ninth time if he had made the right choice in deciding to pursue a relationship with Aaron. That wasn’t true. He knew that he had wanted a relationship with the man that had been always on his mind since he’d first met him, he just hoped this was the right time to make his move. There were so many things that he should have factored in before starting this, but he just wanted to do one thing by following his heart, not by planning and organizing or being fearful of the outcome.
The crowds now departed, the bar stools turned upside down on the tables so the floor could be cleared as he swept and he had re-stocked the beer and liquor for tomorrow’s tender as a courtesy. The money from the cash register was in a zipped bag along with receipts sitting next to him as he went over and over in his head the conversation that he should be having out loud with the man standing on the other side of the bar who was watching him knowingly as he waged this internal debate.

“Well handsome, where do we go from here?” Aaron asked as he leaned his forearms on the bar.
Whoever would have thought that forearms could be such a turn on? Aaron’s were doing strange things to Zeb’s stomach though that’s for sure, making him feel all tingly and flip-floppy just by lying there on the bar with the light blond hair and the veins all popped out from his exertion lifting his equipment and hauling it out to his car. Zeb was having the hardest time looking away from him. Only to realize that by eyeing him, sexy forearms or not, he was avoiding the question Aaron had just asked.
“I’m nervous about talking to you, ya know. I know that we’ve been friends here and I probably should have waited and not done this in front of a crowd, but I just couldn’t wait any longer to let you know how I felt. I thought that maybe you felt the same way or I never would have had the nerve to sing to you like I did tonight.” Zeb pushed all his words out in an ungainly rush. He rolled his eyes at his sudden motormouth moment.
Aaron was surprised that someone that looked like Zeb, who had his manner of grace, who was friendly and easy going with everyone, would be having so much trouble talking to him.
The fact that Zeb sang to him, kissed him within an inch of his life, could be suddenly struck with a case of debilitating nerves completely astounded him. But there was no denying it, that’s exactly what was happening. Aaron reached across the bar and wrapped a gentle hand around Zeb’s neck pulling him towards him. He placed a very quick, chaste, and so not the kind of kiss he wanted to gift Zeb’s cheek, before stepping back to gaze into his eyes. He knew that they both needed to slow things down a bit.
Still loosely holding on to Zeb’s neck he added, “Hey, it’s just me. Remember? I’m nothing to be nervous about. I’ve known you for almost a year and even if we don’t know each other very well, I think you know me well enough that you can tell I won’t hurt you.”
Zeb was calmed by Aaron’s words and he nodded rapidly, huffing out a laugh, “You’re right, that’s one of the reasons I took the chance and sang to you tonight.”
Aaron let out a breath that he didn’t realize he was holding and wrapped his knuckles against the bar lightly. “Well then, what do you say to us getting out of here and going across the street to the all-night diner and getting to know each other a bit over some coffee and pie?”
“Sounds perfect”, Zeb agreed as he untied his apron folded it and set it on the shelf under the bar. “Let’s get out of here, that pie is calling my name.”
Aaron decided he’d test the waters with some snark, “Oh, just the pie is calling to you, eh? Mmmkay, I get it. I thought that kiss rated higher though.” Aaron commented with a wry grin looking over shoulder to gauge the effects of his words. For a moment Zeb’s gaze became hard and Aaron thought he’d misstepped already. Fear began to creep in until Zeb’s had gripped Aaron’s wrist and swung him back around and kissed him deeply, building upon that shared moment only an hour or so ago.
They parted, panting heavily, “No, not just the pie.” To which Zeb arched a brow, then added, “But I suspect you knew that, stud.”
The two men walked outside, it had cooled off some and there was a gentle breeze blowing little bits of trash across the parking lot. Aaron stood next to Zeb as he locked the bar for the night. The diner was one of the cities hidden gems, it had a garish green and red neon light pointing to the entrance and once you stepped inside if you didn’t know they served the best food around, you would be tempted to turn back. The red vinyl booths had seen better days as had the long counter top with the stools permanently bolted to the floor, but the smell of fresh coffee and baked goods was indescribable. The diner had been around forever and the locals prided themselves on knowing about this little gem of an eatery.
As they sat over coffee and big slices of banana cream pie, Zeb told Aaron what had him suddenly shying away from him after his grand gesture.
“I’ve been wanting to ask you out since the first time I saw you in the bar. Then it was just because I was instantly and insanely attracted to you. Once I started to get to know you, I found myself liking who you were more and more. You are one of the most genuine beautifully warm people I’ve ever met. You just have a way about you that sets me at ease. I knew that I wanted more than just a one off with you and I didn’t think it was fair to pursue you with my situation.”
Zeb held his hand up as he saw Aaron start to form a question, “Just let me get this all out before you say anything ok? Then once I’m done, I can answer whatever questions you have.”
Aaron bit his lip, clearly not happy to hold on to his thoughts, but he nodded at Zeb to continue. Zeb took a sip of his coffee and steeled himself for the telling of the next part of his story.
“You see, I have a family.”
“No,” Zeb’s voice was sharp as he noticed Aaron sit board straight from his previously relaxed pose, he forced himself to calm himself and quiet his voice, “It’s my sister and her kids. I take care of them, you see, Mel is mentally ill and can barely take care of herself much less two small children.”
He got that far away look in his eyes and a small smile on his lips like he was picturing something precious. “The kids, man, those kids. The oldest is Sam, he’s seven and is just about the coolest kid you’ll ever meet. He loves games and books and makes friends easily because he’s always happy and wants to try everything new that he sees. And Marie, that’s Mel’s youngest, she’s four going on forty.”
Zeb shook his head in awe, there was no mistaking the light in his eyes for those kids. “You wouldn’t believe some of the things that come out of that little girl’s mouth.” Zeb looked across the table to Aaron, “I am mother and father to all of them. I go to school part-time too.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet, taking a picture out of one of the compartments, he handed it to Aaron,
“This is us, it was taken about a month and a half ago.”
Aaron looked at the picture of the little family. It looked like it was taken at a park with one of those phones on a selfie stick. They were all sitting huddled together on a blanket that had the remains of a picnic lunch, next to a tree that provided shade from the sunny day. They all had smiles on their faces, the boy and girl both tight against Zeb, heads thrown back, laughing and carefree, but Aaron noticed that the children’s mother, Zeb’s sister’s smile didn’t reach her eyes. It was a forced smile, just for the picture and she sat slightly farther apart from everyone else. She had the same dark brown hair that her brother did, but it was dull and she had shadows under her eyes and the beginnings of crow’s-feet at their corners.
“They are beautiful,” Aaron said as he slid the picture back to Zeb. “Your sister is older than you are?” he asked.
“Yes, only by two years though.” Zeb looked at the picture, fingers playing with the corners as he studied it like he was looking for something new in it. “She’s only twenty-four, I’m not sure if it’s her illness that makes her look older or if it’s the meds or maybe it’s a combination of the two?” Zeb shrugged then put the photo away.
Zeb could see all the thoughts that Aaron had running through his head and that he was getting ready to grill Zeb big time about his unusual situation when Zeb’s phone started ringing a familiar ringtone from his pocket.
A hundred different scenarios went through Zeb’s mind as he quickly pulled it out and answered. Were the kids sick? Was she? Along with so many others…
“Hey Mel, is everything ok?” He listened to his sister on the other end. Aaron could see that the tension and anxiety that had suddenly come over Zeb wasn’t losing its grip, in fact Zeb seemed to be getting more tense as he listened to his sister on the phone. Whatever had her calling him at this hour of the night wasn’t good.
“No, it’s fine. I just stopped off to have a cup of coffee and a piece of pie at the diner before coming home,” Zeb looked up at Aaron with an apology in his eyes, “Yes, I’m with a friend but really, it’s fine. I’ll be right home. Just take one of the Xanax and I will be there before it kicks in, I promise.” Zeb looked up at Aaron as he put the phone back in his pocket “My sister feels a panic attack coming on. I should’ve called her, but I didn’t want to wake her if she was asleep. When I’m not at home at my usual time she started to worry and now it looks like she needs to take some medication. I’m sorry to cut this short, but I need to get home.”
“No, don’t you dare apologize for taking care of your family. I admire you for that more than you know.” Aaron held his hand out “Hand me your phone and I will put my number in it. We can make arrangements to get together soon if you like.”
Zeb pulled his phone out again, handed it to Aaron and they did the number exchange, sending each other a quick text as Aaron pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and laid it on the table for their pie and coffee. Zeb was in no frame of mind to argue with him about who was going to pay, so he said his thank you through a tight hug and ran out the door to get home to his family.

As Aaron walked slowly from the diner to his car, he watched Zeb race away towards his family. He meant what he said to the man, he truly did admire him for putting his family first. Having been dead last in his relationship with Mark, and from what he had learned with his volunteer work Aaron knew that was a quality that was necessary for Zeb to have if they were going to start a relationship. Once he was home, Aaron took a quick shower to wash off the grime from the evening, brushed his teeth and slid between his sheets naked. It was his newest private indulgence, sleeping nude wasn’t something he had ever thought to do until one night when he was just too lazy to put his sleep shorts on. He often used to re-dress once he and Mark had sex and since Mark was the first person he had actually slept with, Aaron didn’t have any other experiences to go on.
The cool sheets felt wonderful against his skin and as he lay on his back with his hands clasped behind his head on the pillow, he loved the way the sheets rubbed along his cock and balls, even the way they rubbed along his hairy legs felt different when he was naked. Aaron allowed himself for the first time since it happened to remember Zeb singing to him and the kiss and the diner after they closed the bar. He had been so surprised to see his crush standing there in front of him, singing one of his favorite romantic songs. He recalled feeling Zeb’s body heat as the man stood next to him.
At first Aaron was looking elsewhere to see who was the lucky guy that Zeb was singing to. Of course he knew that Zeb was gay, they had talked briefly about celebrity crushes a time or two in conversation. It wasn’t anything that either of them was hiding. But then Zeb put his hand on Aaron’s hip and rubbed his thumb on him while looking into his eyes just so there was no mistaking his intent. And their first kiss… Aaron replayed that kiss over and over. Yes, it started out awkward as fuck and it was something that he knew years down the line he would tell as one of those “funniest moments” stories, but it was electrifying. He could still feel Zeb’s lips against his. The more he thought about it, the more his dick took notice and began to plump up. Aaron brought his arm down from behind his head slowly, lightly drawing his fingertips along his collarbone and in-between his pecs. He circled first one nipple then the other before pinching them both. By this time, Aaron needed both hands to work his nipples, he loved having them played with, first lightly then working his way to being almost rough with them. His right hand trailed sown his stomach through his treasure trail to meet the edge of the sheet. He reached down between the sheets, and took hold of himself to give a long pull, he was worked up enough now that he was done fucking around with the foreplay. He still had visions of Zeb in his head as he pumped his cock, only now instead of kissing Zeb, Aaron’s mind had him lying in the V of his legs licking his balls encouraging Aaron to shoot his load so he could eat it off his stomach. That was all it took before Aaron started to feel his balls tingle and the familiar heat that spread from his groin outward signaling that release was imminent. Aaron’s cock began to erupt thick streams of semen all the way up to his neck. Aaron was sweaty and out of breath but relaxed and more content than he could remember being in a long while. He wiped himself off with the far corner of the sheet and fell fast asleep.

He stripped the gritty sheets from the bed before he hit the shower. The hot water felt amazing and the scent of his favorite body wash was just the thing to wake his ass up this morning.
His thoughts drifted once again to Zeb and the previous night. It wasn’t long before he had himself another hard on to take care of. During breakfast his cell phone dinged letting Aaron know that he had a text. When he saw that it was from Zeb, it felt like the sun suddenly was shining just a little bit brighter and the good mood that he was in skyrocketed to a great one.

> Good Morning handsome
A: Good Morning yourself 😉
How’s ur sis?
Z: She’s fine. Do you want to get together soon for coffee or something?
A: Would love to.
What day and time works for u?

After several minutes of back and forth texting, they decided to meet mid-week for pizza and a movie. That gave Aaron just enough time to throw away his cold toast and dump out his coffee before he had to get to the studio for a mixing of a new song that he had sold for a commercial. He never once stopped smiling, even during the morning commute to get downtown. The check engine light came on and Aaron looked from it to the rearview mirror: still smiling. But it was definitely time to look into getting a new car, this one was old and starting to nickel and dime him to death. Something to start thinking seriously about. When he stood in line for his coffee once he finally made it downtown and needed the caffeine as a pick-me-up after the drive he could see his reflection in the window housing the baked goods and chuckled at the grin he saw looking back at him. The cute barista seemed to notice him. He flirted, blushing hard at Aaron and even wrote his number on Aaron’s receipt. Aaron felt the smile slip from his face as he thought he caught sight of his ex-boyfriend crossing the street, his heart started to pound and he felt a familiar panic start to set in. But when he took a closer look, he realized that he must have been mistaken. There was no one that even looked remotely like his ex.
It was enough to dampen his good mood.
Once he made the short walk to the studio he had recovered some of his earlier cheerfulness. Rachel was waiting for him in the small lounge just outside of the recording studio. In her usual exuberance, Rachel flung herself into Aaron’s arms, heedless of the coffee he held, and the fact that she was wearing Channel. Rachel hugged him tightly then stepped back and looked up into Aaron’s face. She immediately arched her perfectly made brow “Now, who put that look on your face?”
“What on earth does that even mean? I Swear Rae, sometimes even knowing your special lingo you got going,” Aaron made those finger quote signs in the air as he spoke, “I still can’t make heads or tails of what you say half of the time.”
Aaron chuckled as he ducked his head and avoided eye contact, but Rachel grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him back.
“You can’t get out of this that easy, Aaron,” Rachel pulled the very reluctant Aaron over to the corner where another person was sitting quietly, “Wait a sec, Billy should hear this, too.”
With that news, Aaron finally looked up and took notice of the other person in the room. Where Rachel was all softness and curves, Billy was pure elegance. Long lines and a grace that could only be acquired from years of ballet, Billy was Rachel’s significant other. Though male by birth, Billy was Bi-gendered. Today Billy was all woman, in a stunning red dress that perfectly accented her long legs and her long blond hair in a chignon, with understated makeup that brought out and hi-lighted her big blue eyes.
Aaron didn’t pretend to fully understand how it all worked, he just accepted that it did because Billy was one of the best people he had ever met. Aaron pulled away from Rachel to hug and kiss Billy “You look beautiful today honey; I love that color on you. Did Rae make you tag along or did you miss me?” Aaron gave Billy his best wink and wiggled his eyebrows up and down. Billy blushed delicately.
“Oh no,” Rachel interrupted “You will not get out of telling us what’s going on with you by trying to distract my best girl.”
Aaron sighed, knowing that the interrogation was just beginning.
By the time she was done, Aaron was left feeling raw and confused. After Rae questioned him, he had of course admitted his crush on Zeb to her months ago, but this was all new and felt precious and maybe even a little bit fragile. It was certainly something that he wanted to keep close to himself for a while, even if that made him seem a bit selfish.
He went home and did what he always did when he needed to purge his feelings – he wrote. Aaron had the beginnings of what he thought could very well be one of his best songs ever. He started a list in his head of the artists that he wanted to hear sing it, they would need range and they would need to be able to scream, but most of all the artist would need a voice that could grab your soul. There were a few in the hard rock genre that fit the bill and would do nicely for this song. He started planning because he knew that this one was going to be a biggie.
Aaron wasn’t a vain man by nature, and he didn’t possess a huge ego, either. But he did know what he was capable of and he knew that he did some of his best work when he was in a particular mood. And was he ever in a mood after having Rae and Billy pull his newly developing feelings for Zeb out and discuss him like he wasn’t even in the room with them. Aaron realized that was still deeply unsettled by thinking that he had seen his ex-boyfriend earlier that day. It made for a shitty day, but good stuff for song writing. Once he had most of the lyrics and a good start on the composition, he went to the kitchen to start supper.
It was late and he hadn’t had much to eat since breakfast. He thought an omelet and salad would be ok to have before bed, so he quickly made the light dinner and poured a glass of wine, sat at the breakfast bar and scarfed down his meal. He ate so fast that when he went to clean up, he burned himself when he touched the frying pan and it was still hot. He went to the sink to run cool water over the small burn on his finger and started to laugh when he noticed that the burn was in the shape of a cock and balls. Time for bed, he could clean up in the morning.