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by Ally Blue
Description: Adder has a plan for his life: play his music for millions of adoring fans, who will reward him with money, fame and as much sex as he can handle. It's a goal he's been working toward since his teens and is on the cusp of achieving. The idea of a relationship never entered his mind--until a new drummer joins his band. One taste of Kalil, and all he wants is more. For Kalil, playing drums for Adder is a dream come true, the creative connection he's always wanted. What he never reckoned on is the deeper connection he finds with Adder. Kalil would rather avoid sexual involvement with a bandmate, but Adder seems just as determined to break through his resistance. Attraction aside, music and sex are about the only things the hedonistic Adder and the increasingly jealous Kalil can agree on. Still, before they know it they're on the brink of something deeper, something lasting. And it scares the hell out of both of them.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2009
eBookwise Release Date: January 2011
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [275 KB]
Reading time: 170-238 min.
When the cab pulled up in front of the grungy gray metal door, Kalil frowned. "Whoa, hang on, this can't be right."
The cab driver gave him a dirty look. "This is fourteen-oh-four Peachtree Alley. That's where you told me you wanted to go."
"Yeah, but it's supposed to be a recording studio. Or, well, kind of." Kalil gestured at the narrow, dingy alley. "Does this look like a place where someone would put a studio?"
"How the hell do I know? You give me an address, I drive you there, you pay me. I can't help what the fuckin' place looks like."
"I know, but--"
An irritated growl drifted from beneath the driver's ratty blond mustache. "Look, kid, this is the address you gave me, like it or not. So you gettin' out here or what?"
What, Kalil thought, gazing at the unmarked door with extreme trepidation. Was this Harpo's idea of a joke? It was exactly the sort of prank the bastard would've pulled in high school. On the other hand, Kalil had heard about the incident between Adder and Bull, and he knew the band hadn't yet found a new drummer. And if there was one thing you could count on with Harpo, it was how seriously he took his music.
Still trying to convince himself he wasn't about to be mugged--or at least laughed at--Kalil got out of the cab and handed the driver a twenty through the open window. "Keep the change."
"Gee, thanks. Now I can finally have that surgery."
"Jackass," Kalil muttered as the cab peeled away from the curb. He indulged in a moment's nostalgia for his ancient Volkswagen Beetle, which had wheezed its last the previous week, then gathered his courage and approached the dented and rusted door.
He'd knocked three times without answer and was starting to get seriously pissed off at Harpo when the door swung open to reveal a petite, pretty woman with purple hair and a matching minidress. She gave him a dazzling smile. "Oh, you must be Kalil! C'mon in."
She stood aside, and he shuffled past her. "Um. I'm Kalil, yeah. Hi."
"Hi." Grabbing his hand, she shook it hard. "I'm Violet McGill. Vi for short." She shifted her grip to his wrist and pulled him down a cramped, poorly lit and thankfully short hallway. "Sorry it took so long to answer. Harpo and Adder were fucking around and we didn't hear you at first."
Kalil gaped. "They were what?" Harpo was an open-minded guy--as evidenced by his schoolboy friendship with Kalil, who'd always been one hundred percent bent--but he was straight. Or at least he had been.
Surely things hadn't changed that much in the few years since they'd last seen each other.
Vi shot an amused look at him. "They weren't fucking, not that Adder hasn't tried. They were fucking around. Making weird-ass noises with some of the instruments. They like to do that sort of shit."
"Oh." He grinned, a sudden wave of excitement surging through his blood. He'd agreed to this audition mostly based on his enormous respect for Harpo as a musician, but if this band liked to stretch the boundaries of music as much as he did it could turn out to be a wonderful thing for everyone.
"Here we are," Vi announced as she and Kalil emerged into a large room carpeted in blinding green and yellow shag. "The practice room's through there." She waved at a half-open door in one wall. "This is our lounge area."
"Cool," he lied, trying not to wince. Damn, the place was hideous. Not that it mattered, really, but still. "Where're the guys?"
Before Vi could answer, Harpo's fuzzy blond head popped up from behind the bar in the corner. Grinning, he jumped to his feet and bounded toward Kalil. "Hey hey, Special K!" He grabbed Kalil and hugged him, thumping him on the back so hard it made him cough. "Great to see you again, man, how are you?"
"Fine." Kalil couldn't help returning Harpo's happy smile, in spite of the man's use of the nickname he thought he'd ditched eight years ago. "Thanks for letting me come out and play."
"Harpo recommended you," said a low, melodious voice from somewhere to Kalil's left. "He wouldn't have if you weren't good. I hope you are."
"I am." Turning, Kalil searched for the source of the voice.
The source wasn't hard to spot. Kalil stared open-mouthed at the man leaning against the frame of an open door in the wall beside the bar. He had to be at least a head taller than Kalil, all long sleek limbs and pale skin smudged here and there with dirt and glitter. A gauzy, pale pink shirt dotted with pearl beads hung open on his wide shoulders, framing a sparsely haired chest which gleamed with sweat. The sinuous curve of a bright green snake tattoo wound around his right thigh below the hem of the ragged black shorts. Shaggy shoulder-length hair in a green that matched the tattoo clung in damp clumps to his face and neck. Big hazel eyes regarded Kalil with unabashed interest.
Adder. It had to be. Kalil licked his lips. He'd heard of Adder, of course. Who in the Atlanta music scene hadn't? But damn, he hadn't been prepared for the city's resident oddball singer to be this hot.
Kalil drew himself up straight and met Adder's unnervingly direct gaze. "You must be Adder. I'm Kalil Sabatino. It's nice to meet you."
Adder's plump, pouty lips curved into a smile, showing a flash of what appeared to be a stainless-steel tooth. Pushing away from the wall, he padded barefoot across the floor toward Kalil, took his hand and lifted it to his mouth. "Charmed," he breathed, brushing a kiss across the back of Kalil's hand.
Kalil stood there, feeling at once awkward and flattered. He wondered if Adder had this effect on everyone, or if he himself simply possessed a hitherto unsuspected weakness for tall, green-haired men in women's blouses.
Harpo's dark hand closed over Adder's wrist, pulling him away from Kalil and breaking the spell. "Quit flirting." Harpo aimed a fierce frown at Adder, who held up both hands and backed away with an unrepentant grin. Sighing, Harpo turned to face Kalil. "Ignore him. His goal in life is to fuck every living thing on the planet."
"Only humans," Adder protested. "And I don't do jailbait." It wasn't exactly a denial of Harpo's claim.
"Yeah, yeah." Vi emerged from behind the bar with a bottle of water. She took a long swallow. "So, are we gonna play, or what?"
"Play." Harpo clapped Kalil on the shoulder. "You ready? The drum kit's in the practice room. Come on, I'll show you."
Kalil followed Harpo, Adder and Vi through the half-open door into a large room carpeted in soft gray. A surprising variety of instruments took up most of the floor space. The drum set against the back wall was pretty basic, but good enough for an audition. If he landed this position, Kalil could borrow his brother's pickup truck to bring his own kit over.
He nodded. "Looks good. Let's do it."
He strode over and parked himself on the wobbly little throne they'd provided. Drawing his lucky drumsticks from the inner pocket of his denim jacket, he tapped the drums and cymbals a few times, just to get the feel of them. He tried not to notice Adder watching him.
They played "Johnny B. Goode" first, followed by "Bigmouth Strikes Again" and "Take A Walk On The Wild Side". Kalil decided that he should never, ever be within listening distance of Adder when he growled out the latter tune. His sex-soaked delivery made Lou Reed sound innocent, a feat not to be taken lightly. The resulting hard-on was something Kalil could definitely live without while trying to play.
The switch to "Sexy Back" was more than welcome, and not only because Adder's take on the tune leaned to the campy side. Kalil pounded out the staccato rhythm he'd invented to go with his second favorite song, losing himself in the music and thus temporarily forgetting the hypnotic roll of Adder's slender hips against the mic stand.
When Kalil knocked out the final beat on the bass drum, the room went still for a moment. Then Harpo whooped, Vi squealed and Kalil knew he was in. He laughed as two-thirds of his new band rushed up and swept him into an enthusiastic hug.
"Oh my God, you're fucking awesome!" Vi pinched his cheeks. "Cute too. Our fans are gonna love you."
Kalil smiled, blushing. "Thanks. So, does this mean I'm in?"
Harpo and Vi both turned to look at Adder, who was behind the bar mixing some electric blue concoction that looked like glass cleaner. "You're in," Adder confirmed, glancing up long enough to shoot Kalil a smoldering look from beneath those long black lashes. He poured the neon-colored liquid from the huge plastic pitcher into four extra-large plastic Aqua Teen Hunger Force cups. "Let's celebrate. Drinks are on me."
Vi walked over, picked up one of the cups and sniffed it. "What is this?"
"I don't know." Adder grinned, eyes sparkling. "But it's got that blue stuff and an absolutely sinful quantity of tequila, so it's got to be good."
"Smells like it could clean the grease off your driveway." Harpo narrowed his eyes at it, shrugged and took a huge swallow. He shuddered. "Oh, man. That's evil."
Adder slinked out from behind the bar, swayed over to Kalil and handed him a cup of the bright blue stuff. Kalil took it, raised the cup in a silent toast and drank. The liquor burned its way to his stomach. "Good stuff," he gasped, eyes watering.
"Mmmmm." Adder linked his arm through Kalil's and steered him toward the sofa against the wall. They plopped down side by side, and Adder promptly scooted closer until his thigh pressed against Kalil's. "So. Are you named after the drug, or the cereal?"
It took a moment for Kalil to work out what Adder meant. When he did, he shot a glare at Harpo, who grinned and waved from the bar where he stood talking to Vi. "Neither. I have dyslexia, and it wasn't diagnosed until my senior year."
The light dawned in Adder's eyes. "Oooooh. Special classes. I get it."
"Nobody calls me Special K anymore."
"Of course not." Adder's gaze took a slow, thorough tour of Kalil's body. When he arrived back at Kalil's face, his smile had turned seductive. "You're a beautiful man, Special K."
For the first time ever, Kalil was glad to hear his despised high school nickname, because it killed the urge to flirt back. "I hope me being your drummer isn't contingent on me sleeping with you, because I'm not gonna."
"Nope. I just don't sleep with bandmates."
"Too bad. I bet we'd be really hot together." With a deep sigh, Adder slouched against the sofa cushions. "Oh well. I guess you wouldn't really fit in with the band if you didn't reject me like the rest of them do."
Kalil snickered. "Somehow, I can't believe you have any trouble getting guys into bed."
"Hm, that's true. Boys, girls, they all want me. All except the people I want the most." Adder raised his face and aimed a brilliant smile at Vi, who'd wandered over. "Vi! My darling! Sit on Adder's lap, sweetheart." Adder grabbed Vi's wrist and tugged. She tumbled into his lap with a little shriek, sloshing a bit of her drink on his shirt.
Kalil took the opportunity to get up and join Harpo at the bar. He had a feeling Adder wasn't going to give up on trying to get him into bed, and he was horribly afraid he'd cave if he didn't get away for a while. Adder was damn near impossible to resist, in spite of the arrogance, the weird clothes and the general lack of shame.
"Hey, Isaac." Kalil set his cup on the bar and tugged on Harpo's sleeve. "Cut this thing with some soda, would you? I think it's already eating a hole through my stomach."
Harpo glared, and Kalil laughed. He had no sympathy. In his pre-blond-'fro days, Harpo had earned his Love Boat-inspired nickname in spades with nautical-style clothes and some seriously misguided facial hair.
"Ha ha, very fucking funny." Harpo skirted the end of the bar to dig through the shelves in back. He emerged with a bottle of club soda, opened it and poured a generous portion into both their drinks. "You better not resurrect that one. Harpo I am now, and Harpo I would like to remain."
"Hey, payback's a bitch." Kalil laughed at the apprehension on Harpo's face. "Dude, I'm just kidding. You don't call me Special K, I won't call you Isaac."
Harpo stuck out his hand. Kalil took it and they shook.
Full-throated laughter rang out behind them. Kalil turned around. Adder lay sprawled on his side on the sofa, his drink sitting on the floor and both arms wrapped around his belly. He was laughing so hard tears streaked down his cheeks. Vi sat beside him, giggling into her cup. They both looked very young and carefree. Kalil found the whole picture at once adorable and annoying.
Sitting up, Adder looped an arm around Vi's neck, pulled her close and kissed her. Kalil spun to face Harpo again. "I didn't know they were seeing each other." He was just coming on to me, the whore.
"They're not together. They just have sex sometimes, is all."
"But Adder said you and Vi both rejected him."
"My boy, Adder is deranged. You will learn this."
Kalil turned to peer over his shoulder. Vi and Adder had stopped kissing, for which Kalil was unaccountably relieved. Adder caught his eye with a saucy wink, and Kalil hastily turned away. "So. What's his story?"
"What do you mean?"
What did he mean? Not entirely sure himself, he settled on the question which was, irritatingly, topmost in his mind. "Is he always such a slut?"
Harpo laughed. "Yeah, pretty much." He cut a sly look at Kalil. "Adder loves to fuck, but he doesn't do commitment."
"Um. Okay, whatever." Forcing himself to not turn around and see what Adder was doing, Kalil took a sip of his neon-colored drink and grimaced. "What's his real name?"
"No it isn't."
"It is. Really."
Kalil remained unconvinced. "No way, dude. Who'd name their kid Adder?"
Harpo shrugged. "Nobody. But, it's Adder now. He had it legally changed last year."
Against his better judgment, Kalil sipped his drink again. It seemed to be getting more lethal every time. His sense of self-preservation made him set the cup down. "So what was his name before he changed it?"
Harpo grinned. "If I told you that, I'd have to kill you."
"Why are you so curious?"
Kalil frowned at a puddle of blue liquid on the bar. He wasn't sure exactly why he wanted to know more about Adder, but he had a sneaking suspicion it might be because he found the man irritatingly attractive. Not that he was telling Harpo that in this lifetime.
"I was just wondering what kind of freakazoid name he was born with, if it was so bad he changed it to Adder." At least that was true, even if it wasn't the whole truth.
Harpo's arched brow said he knew better, but he didn't argue. Unfortunately, he also didn't answer Kalil's question. Kalil was pondering the best way to approach Vi for answers when a pair of arms snaked around him from behind and a slick tongue lodged itself in his ear. He broke out of the unexpected embrace with a yelp.
He whirled around and met Adder's gleeful grin with a glare. "Don't do that."
The grin widened and edged over the border into evil. "You're going to be fun."
Ignoring the part of him that wanted to jump on Adder and shove his tongue right in the middle of that wicked smile, Kalil gathered the rags of his dignity around him and faced his new bandmate with an entirely fake calm. "So, when do we start practicing together? I know y'all play all the time, so I expect you have a show already scheduled soon."
Adder morphed from mischievous child to hardcore businessman so fast Kalil's head spun. "Actually, we have a gig next week at The Wedge. It's not a very large venue, but I want us to put on a show the whole city will talk about."
"We're after a show at The Tabernacle," Vi piped up. "If we can get in there, we have a great shot at bigger clubs all over the Southeast."
"And if we do that, maybe we can swing a festival gig," Harpo added, stirring his drink with his finger.
Adder nodded. "If we can get a spot in a festival, maybe Bonnaroo or Voodoo, we can catch the ear of a big-name band and thus get an opening spot on a tour. From there, it's only one step up to headlining."
Kalil blinked. "Wow. Y'all've really thought this through, huh?"
Adder gave him an indecipherable look. "Believe it or not, I take my career--our career--very seriously."
"I know," Kalil answered, feeling chastised. "Obviously you do."
"That's correct." Adder leaned closer. "Never underestimate my ambition, Special K. I want to be famous. And I get what I want."