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His Leading Man
by Kimberly Gardner

Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance
Description: Once David thought he and Kieran would be together forever. But when their careers take different paths, the powerful lure of ambition pulls them apart. Thrown together again by fate and introduced as strangers, each tries to resist the spark of desire that still burns bright. But when sparks turn to flames, the resulting blaze threatens to consume them both. Afraid of future heartbreak, yet bound by love, each must find a way to convince the other that at long last, he's found His Leading Man. This short story is part of the ENCORE! ENCORE! anthology.
eBook Publisher: MLR Press, LLC/MLR Press,
eBookwise Release Date: January 2011

eBookeBook

5 Reader Ratings:
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Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [169 KB]
Words: 37026
Reading time: 105-148 min.


Chapter One

David Sullivan liked parties. He really did. And as L.A. Parties went, this was a damn fine one. Beautiful house on the beach, beautiful night with warm fragrant breezes, dozens of networking opportunities almost literally within touching distance and, oh yeah, some of the finest man-flesh he'd seen since his arrival in southern California three days ago, all combined to make this evening's gathering a pretty sweet deal for an all around nobody and newcomer to the movie business like himself.

"Hey, Sully, look over there. Isn't that what's-his-name?" Gavin Collier nudged his arm.

Vodka sloshed over the back of David's hand, narrowly missing his jacket sleeve. He followed the direction of his friend's gaze toward a knot of extremely attractive men all laughing and talking. "Which one?"

"The gorgeous one. God, do I have to point? Right there."

Everyone at this party was gorgeous, but David didn't bother to say so. For that matter, everyone he'd seen in L.A. was gorgeous. It must be an unwritten rule or something that you had to be a hottie to reside within the city limits.

"I still don't know who you mean, Gav." David sipped his vodka tonic.

"He was in Quentin Tarantino's last film. I can't remember his name, but I know you know who I mean."

"Sure, Quentin Tarantino. Whatever." David scanned the crowded terrace. Mmm, the eye-candy was out in force tonight. He followed the movements of a petite young man in skin-tight jeans and midriff-baring t-shirt as he broke away from one group of partiers and drifted toward another.

David had had his eye on the little cutie since he and Gavin had stepped out onto the terrace. That was thirty minutes ago and so far he hadn't stuck with any particular man or woman for more than a few minutes at a stretch. No, David decided, taking another sip, the little hottie was most definitely on his own. Thank you God.

Tossing back the remainder of his drink, David set down his empty glass and touched Gavin's elbow. "See that guy over there?"

Gavin nodded. "Mmm, I certainly do. He looks delicious. Think I'd like to peel him out of those jeans and lick him all over."

"Sorry, man, I saw him first, so that means the licking rights are all mine." He grinned. "I'm going over to talk to him. And hopefully leave with him, so if I don't see you later, I'll see you later, yeah?"

"Going to ask if he wants to audition for you?" The question was accompanied by a salacious wink.

David laughed. "Perv. I never use my career credentials to get laid."

Gavin grinned. "Yeah well, that's because your credentials and five bucks might get you a latte at Starbucks, but that's about it."

"Fuck off," David said good-naturedly.

"Gavin, there you are. And David, it's great to see you." Christine Ferrar, Gavin's sister and the party's hostess, appeared seemingly from nowhere. Rising on her toes, she kissed David's cheek then thumbed lipstick from the corner of his mouth. "I'm so glad you could make it, sweetie." She turned to her brother. "How's the seminar going? McKee is fabulous, isn't he? I'm telling you, once you've taken his seminar, you will never watch movies the same way again."

"We aren't taking McKee's seminar, Sissy. I told you that." Gavin rattled the ice in his glass.

"Did you?" She blinked wide blue eyes. "Oh. Well, I would have sworn that's what you said. Well, you should. You both should. He really is fabulous."

"You've taken his seminar?" With one eye on Christine, David watched as his little brunet hottie leaned in and laughed up at a tall, gray-haired man in a cream-colored jacket.

Damn. That was so not good.

"Me? No, I don't go in for that sort of thing." She laughed, a lovely musical sound like the tinkle of fine crystal. "But that's what everyone says, so there must be some truth in it, right?"

Gray-hair slid his arm around Hottie's trim waist and tugged him in close.

Crap.

"Gavin, sweetie, you don't mind if I steal David for a minute, do you?" Without waiting for an answer, Christine slid her arm through David's. "I have someone I'm dying to introduce you to. I just know he would be perfect for yours and Gavin's film."

"Actually, Chris," Gavin said, "David was just about to--"

But if his sister heard him, no one would have guessed it. As Christine turned on her stiletto, Gavin shrugged as if to say, "sorry, man, I tried." David gave a small shake of his head that said no big deal as she towed him across the terrace and in through the sliding glass door.

He found himself in a massive grown-up playroom replete with sixty-inch plasma TV, antique jukebox, pinball machine, pool table, and fully-stocked wet-bar.

The playroom was even more crowded than the terrace and the roar of dozens of conversations competed with blaring music, something techno with a driving bass that David didn't recognize, raising the indoor decibel level to near ear-splitting. He bid a silent goodbye to his chances with the brunet hottie and allowed himself to be led, or dragged, through the crowd by Gavin's sister.

"This guy is gorgeous," Christine yelled above the din. "I mean literally to die for. And he's a real sweetie too. I just know you two are going to hit it off."

Uh-oh. Inside David's head alarm bells began to shriek. Beware of scary fix-up attempt at ten o'clock.

He tried to gently extract his arm from her clutches. "Chris, as much as I appreciate the intro, I really have to--"

But just as she'd done to her brother, Christine ignored him. Big surprise there. Gavin's sister was nothing if not determined, which probably had a lot to do with how she'd gotten to be a major player in the entertainment press with a nationally syndicated column and a blog that logged a ton of hits every week.

With no choice short of physical force, he followed docilely along until she pulled him to a stop. Her hand remained firmly attached to his arm, as if she was sure he might bolt if she let go. "Kieran, sweetie, here's the guy I was telling you about."

Kieran?

The alarms in David's brain went instantly to full red alert, nuclear meltdown imminent. It couldn't be.

But yes, yes it was.

"David, this is Kieran Reilly. Kieran, honey, this is David Sullivan. Kieran is the star of that new cable series, What a Drag. I'm sure you've seen it. It's like Sex in the City except with drag queens."

"Cross-dressers," Kieran corrected. His eyes had gone very wide; those beautiful, intensely blue eyes.

God, how could he have forgotten how blue Kieran's eyes were.

"Hmm?" Christine lifted one finely arched dark brow.

"Cross-dressers. The only drag queen on the show is Cleo. The rest of us are cross-dressers."

"Oh. Well. Drag queens, cross-dressers. In any case, it's a fabulous show." She touched Kieran's shoulder. "And the shoes! Honey, I would die to get my hands on some of those shoes. They are simply divine!"

Kieran laughed, but it sounded a little forced. "Tell me about it. You should see my shoe closet these days."

Christine laughed too. Her gaze was sharp as she glanced from Kieran to David and gave a little nod. "Well, I'm sure you two will have a lot to talk about, so I'll just scurry along. Can't neglect my other guests, you know."

And with that she faded into the crowd, leaving them alone.

There was a moment of awkward silence where they just stood there looking at each other. Well, Kieran was looking. David, for his part, devoured Kieran with his eyes. He felt like a man who had been stranded in the desert, dying of thirst, who had now suddenly been presented with a cool, clear waterfall in the form of his ex-boyfriend, the only man in his life who had ever successfully won and then broken his heart, a heart Kieran still held, whether he knew it or not.

"So," Kieran said, dragging out the single syllable. "Which one of us is going to tell her that she didn't just make the match of the century?"

"I was sort of waiting for you to do it. I don't really know her that well."

"Don't look at me." Kieran sipped his drink. "Sorry, but I didn't want to see our past mistakes splashed across the front of Tine's blog tomorrow morning."

The barb struck home, sudden and sharp. "Is that what it was, a past mistake?"

"You know what I mean." Kieran lowered his voice. His gaze scanned the immediate vicinity as if he was afraid they would be overheard.

"No, I don't think I do." David looked around. Suddenly he wanted a drink very badly, if only to have something to do with his hands. His damn hands that kept wanting to reach out and touch Kieran, maybe just to see if he was real. Or maybe to pull him close and see if they still fit together as well as they once had.

Because he was afraid that they would indeed fit just as well, maybe better, he balled his hands into fists and stuck them in the pockets of his linen jacket.

Kieran looked so damn good, so damn touchable, with his dark hair falling in wild curls around his perfect, heart-shaped face, his gorgeous eyes dramatically shadowed and lined, and his lips, full and wet and begging to be tasted.

Fool.

Those pretty lips turned down at the corners and Kieran's slim shoulders sagged. "Look, David, I didn't mean... That is, can we start over?" he set his glass down on a nearby table and held out his hand. "Hi, my name's Kieran. Nice party, isn't it?" He smiled that heart-stopping smile that still haunted David's dreams. "It's a little warm in here, don't you think? Would you maybe like to take a walk outside?"

For a moment David couldn't breathe. He stared at Kieran's extended hand. Oh, this was such a bad idea. He shrugged. "Sure. Let's walk out by the pool."

Because he so much wanted to, rather than take that hand, he turned and led the way back through the crowd. Opening the sliding door, he stood aside and waited for Kieran to go ahead. Though he promised himself he would not look, his gaze was inexorably drawn to the tempting swell of Kieran's ass under shimmering blue silk.

The outfit was some kind of tunic over loose-fitting pants, both were the color of sea and sky on the most brilliant of summer days. The tunic fell to mid-thigh and should have concealed more than it revealed. But thanks to the drape of the silk, David could see every perfectly delineated muscle, the sleek line of slim hips and lean thighs, the trim waist and, oh yeah, the delectable roundness of Kieran's tight little butt as he stepped through the door and onto the terrace.

Once outside, David half-turned toward the bar. "Do you want a drink?"

Kieran shook his head. "I'm good. But if you want one I'll wait right here while you get it."

"No. No, that's fine. I don't really need one either. Let's just walk."

Rather than heading toward the pool, Kieran gestured toward a path that led around the side of the house. "Let's go this way. Do you mind? There are some people over there that I'd rather not have to talk to."

It was on the tip of David's tongue to ask if he himself didn't fall into that category, but he swallowed the question back down. It was a beautiful night and beautiful nights were not made for confrontation.

The air was balmy with a light breeze off the ocean and no sign of the rain that had been predicted earlier in the day. As they rounded the side of the house, the scent of flowers tickled David's nose and soon he knew why. He found himself entering a lush garden with profusions of flowers blooming everywhere. They spilled from beds and speared out of pots and scented the darkness with their rich perfume. A gravel path twisted around bushes and under trellises heavy with climbing roses and lit with tiny fairy lights. In the center of it all shimmered a pool of water with a small waterfall burbling over rocks at the far end, its musical splash blending with the crash of waves against the distant beach.

Kieran led the way to a small, white wrought iron bench.

He sank down on it with a sigh and, after a moment's hesitation, David sat next to him.

"I love this place." Another sigh.

"It's a great house." The bench was small, their hips snugged up close, Kieran's thigh pressed warm and solid along the length of David's. He shifted, trying to gain some space, but there was nowhere to go.

"It is a nice house, but I meant this place, this garden. It's peaceful. Sitting here you can almost forget that there's anyone else around, maybe even in the whole world."

It was true. Although they were not all that far from the terrace, the sounds of the party were little more than a distant murmur, nearly inaudible under the splash of the tiny waterfall and the pounding of the surf.

It was beautiful and very, very romantic.

"Is peace what you're looking for?" David asked.

"Hmm? What do you mean?"

"You said you like this place because it's so peaceful. I was just wondering..." He let the question trail off, mostly because he wasn't sure what exactly he'd been wondering.

"It just gets to be a bit much sometimes, all the people and the cameras and having to watch everything you say. Sometimes you just want to turn it all off and just be." Kieran laughed a little. "That must sound really odd to you, doesn't it? I mean, after all the work to get where I am, after all the struggle and disappointment and now... Hell, it sounds odd to me and I'm the one saying it." He touched the back of David's hand, very lightly, just with the tips of his fingers. "I didn't mean what I said before, you know, about past mistakes. I don't think of our relationship that way."

David didn't know what to say. Suddenly he was in the middle of a minefield where a single misstep or unwise move might result in catastrophe. So he just sat there, saying nothing, not moving and almost not breathing. Just being, and, yeah, it was nice.

"Do you?" Kieran asked very quietly.

"Do I what?"

"Think of it that way, as a mistake?"

Yes. It was a horrible mistake, the worst mistake he'd ever made. But not the relationship. No, the mistake had been letting Kieran Reilly slip out of his life.

Beside him, Kieran shifted, started to rise. Clearly he'd taken David's silence as an affirmative. "I'm sorry. We should just--"

"No." David caught Kieran's hand and tugged him back onto the bench. "Don't go."

In the reflected light from the fountain Kieran's eyes were luminous, the blue so dark it looked black.

"Don't go," David repeated. And because Kieran didn't go, because he just sat there looking at David with his lips slightly parted, because it was what he most wanted at that moment, David leaned forward just that little bit and brought their mouths together.

For a single, heart-stopping moment nothing happened. Kieran didn't move, didn't kiss back, didn't even seem to breathe. But then his lips parted, a small sound escaped and slipped between their mouths. It might have been a sigh or a moan or even a gasp, David couldn't be sure. But whatever it was, for him it had the seismic effect of an eight-point-nine on the Richter scale.

Kieran's hand came up and cupped David's cheek. A thumb lightly traced his cheekbone as their tongues met and tangled in an old familiar dance.

And, oh God, it was so very sweet. That taste, that touch, that small sound, all of it. And it wasn't enough, not nearly.

David slid his arms around Kieran's waist and pulled him close. Kieran's arms slid around his neck and he angled his body to bring them into even more intimate contact. But the little iron bench conspired against them. It held them close but not close enough.

Kieran broke the kiss. "Wait. David, wait. I need more." He crawled into David's lap and straddled him.

And oh yeah, that was perfect.

David shifted his hips as Kieran's fingers plunged into his hair, fisted there, tugged. Their cocks brushed. Even through layers of clothing the contact sent an electric jolt of need up his spine and down into his balls.

He groaned. "Kieran, God."

Their lips fused once more, the kiss even hungrier, even hotter than before, Kieran's tongue thrusting aggressively past David's lips. He rocked forward, increasing the delicious pressure of cock against cock.

David's brain shrieked at him that they couldn't do this here, that they had to stop or at least take it somewhere more private. Like his hotel room, which was an even worse idea than making out right here in Christine Ferrar's garden.

Except damn, he wanted Kieran, wanted him with every cell of his being, wanted him on his back with his legs in the air, naked and wild and wanting him right back. And wasn't that a pretty mental picture?

Kieran chose that moment to reach between their bodies and give David's dick a squeeze which nearly sent him into orbit. But when he tugged on David's zipper, sanity came rushing back.

David laid a hand over Kieran's. "We can't. Not here."

"But I want to--"

"And I want you to, believe me. I want it more than you can imagine. But we can't do it here."

As if to drive the point home, a high-pitched laugh reached them from the direction of the terrace.

No, they absolutely could not do this here.

"You're right. I know you're right." Kieran sighed, rested his forehead against David's shoulder and let go of his zipper. Sliding off his lap, Kieran got to his feet.

He wanted to weep at the loss of that lithe body in his arms.

Catching Kieran's hand as the other man adjusted his rumpled clothing, he asked, "Come back to my hotel? I want to finish this somewhere more private."


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