21 February 1996
The biggest downside of working the door at Club Idol was that you had to stand outside. Which had been fine, back in September, but now it was February and it was snowing again and Adam Lambert was having some serious second thoughts about his decision to move to New York. Even bouncing around to the music leaking out the door—around to the middle and back again, I'm gonna be there to the end—wasn't enough to keep him warm. Besides, the platforms slipped in the slush.
Though, if he were still in San Diego, or even LA, he wouldn't be able to wear the coat. And the coat was magnificent: iridescent black, with a collar that perfectly framed his face, big silver buttons, and length enough to reach his shoe-tops. It was even warm, though that was mostly because he'd sewn an lining into the thing after finding it at the costume shop on 4th avenue. With the coat he wore a cobalt blue scarf and gloves—and his top hat, of course.
"Damn," Michael Sarver said, shivering and punching his hands together. "Cold out here."
"Yep," Adam replied.
"Sam Champion said this storm could make it the snowiest winter since the forties."
"Heh, you watch Superman."
"Superman?" Sarver asked.
"They call him Superman," Adam explained, "because he runs out of Channel 7 in a suit, and by the time he reaches the bars in Chelsea he's wearing—well, not a cape exactly."
Sarver turned to him, sharply. He was a big guy—had to be, to be a bouncer—and was one of the few at the club who could look Adam something close to in the eye when he was wearing platforms. "Champion's a fag?" he asked.
"Yep, Champion's a fag," Adam said.
"You know that personally?" he asked.
Adam grinned coquettishly, and batted his eyelashes. "Why Sarver, are you jealous?" he asked. "I never knew!"
"No," Sarver said quickly. "Just wonderin', y'know, the source of your information."
"Well, I do know, but not personally," Adam admitted. "I've seen him picking up guys in clubs. But he's not my type, and I doubt I'm his."
"Huh," Sarver said, and stomped his feet.
Adam turned to look down the street and wished, vaguely, that his coworker at the door weren't such an ass. He suspected that in high school Sarver had been the kind of football player who didn't actually befriend any of the freaks or geeks, but wouldn't allow them to be beat up in his presence. It worked well for the club because he could draw out the gay bashers, who'd assume he was one of their own, and then show them the door. But that didn't mean Sarver was a PFLAG member; he'd just learned to shut up because oh yeah, a great big fag was signing his paycheck every week.
The snow was definitely keeping the crowds away tonight. It was early, to be sure—only eleven-thirty—but usually by now there were some folks clustered outside that Adam wasn't going to let in, and more people on the dance floor than were there at the moment. A few people were approaching, two men and a woman dressed like rockers rather than club kids, so they didn't look particularly promising until they were almost at the door.
"Well, look who became queen bee while I was gone," said the first man, grinning.
"I don't think I can let you in," Adam said. "I mean, you haven't shaved. But then, you always liked having a beard," and nodded at the woman, a shapely brunette with creamy skin.
"Get her!" the man replied. "She's even grown claws." He stepped forward, managing to get in Adam's face even though he was a bit shorter. "Don't sharpen them on me, sweetie, unless you're ready for a fight."
Adam rolled his eyes. "Whatever, old man."
The man reached behind him and unhooked the rope. "I know you need to make a stand—appearances and all. I do appreciate that my return puts you in a tough position. But I don't appreciate your Steve Rubell act."
"Aww, c'mon, Dave," said the man behind him in a broad Australian accent. "He's a lot better looking than Steve Rubell."
Dave grinned. "True," he said, looking Adam up and down. "How about this—you stay out of my way, and I stay out of yours. I'm sure this club is big enough for both of us."
Adam shrugged and stared at his fingernails. "Fine by me," he said, trying to sound as bored as possible.
"Good," Dave said, and walked in with his two friends, re-hooking the velvet rope behind him.
Sarver turned to Adam. "Who was that?"
Adam sighed. "David Cook."
Sarver's eyes widened. "I didn't even recognize him. Wasn't he the BMOC around here last year? Simon's favorite?"
"Yeah," Adam said.
"But, he was always a nice guy, I thought," Sarver said.
"We got off on the wrong foot, I guess," Adam said. "And you know Simon."
"Yeah," Sarver said. Everyone knew that Simon Cowell, who not only owned the club but also had a small independent record label of his own and managed several artists, loved nothing better than to set his favorites against each other, rivals for his notice and attention. And he adored catty girls and pretty boys. "So now he's back and—oh, I see." He patted Adam on the shoulder.
Adam grimaced. If even Sarver—who wasn't the sharpest tool in the box—was sorry for him, he was really in for it. "Whatever," he said. "I'm not worried."
The biggest downside of working the bar at the club was that you had to constantly clean. Kris Allen's fingertips were always pruned from being wet so much of the time: wiping down the bar, rinsing cups, shoveling ice. But the tips were good, the people were there to have fun, and his coworkers were a tight little tribe. DJ "B-Shorty"—real name Blake Lewis, and Kris didn't think he was that short—was known for throwing 80s songs into the mix here and there, and since many of the girls in the crowd had moved to New York in the first place to fulfill their Desperately Seeking Susan fantasies it made the club very popular. Kris liked it too, because he'd much rather hear Yaz sing I'm tired of fighting in your fashion war than hear "Finally", the song that wouldn't die, for the 450th time. The 80s songs went along with a door policy that prized the fun-acting over the cool-looking; Cowell felt that cool people didn't actually make for a good party, because they just stood around acting cool and intimidated others. Fun people crowded the dance floor and bought drinks and were silly, which loosened everyone else up.
Besides, working at one of Cowell's clubs got Kris one step closer to actually being managed by the guy. Of course it would help if Cowell could remember who he was. But Kris was relatively new—Matt had only brought him in a month ago, after seeing him busking in Union Square. And he had been noticed by Cowell's lover Ryan Seacrest, which might even be better, Seacrest being the head of MTV News and all. He wasn't sure what to do to catch the eye of Cowell, though, and he didn't want it to be about his looks.
Kris had just served up a couple of cosmos to a man flirtatious enough to fluster Kris a little; he wasn't surprised to find the man had slipped his number under the generous tip. "You're not keeping that?" his fellow bartender Syesha asked when he ditched the card.
"Nah," Kris said. "Not my type. And anyway I kinda like to actually talk to them before I date them."
"That's why you call them," Syesha said. "You sure you're gay?"
Kris shrugged. "My ex-wife is," he replied.
Suddenly Syesha let out a squeal. "Oh my god, David Cook!" she shouted.
A broadly grinning bearded man was walking to the bar, and as he came nearer Kris swore his eyes actually twinkled, like Pa Ingalls, in the low light of the club. "Syesha!" he said, and she hopped up on the bar to give him a hug. "How are you, sweetheart?"
"Great, even better if you say you're not leaving again," she replied.
"Nope," he said, shaking his head. "Here to stay, gotta work on that record."
Syesha's eyes flew open. "You mean?"
"Yep," he said, nodding. "Simon sent me away to write, I sent him what I had, he liked it, I'm going into the studio with Randy in a couple of weeks."
"That's fantastic!" she said, and gave him another hug.
He turned to Kris, smiling. "Gonna introduce me to the new guy?" he asked.
"Oh, sorry! David, this is Kris Allen. Kris, this is David Cook."
As they shook hands, David openly checked Kris out. Kris found the ogling to be the most difficult part to get used to; back home he'd always been with Katy, and the other girls had quickly learned not to stare at him when she was around. And anyway guys stared differently than girls did; he stared like that, too, sometimes.
"Welcome to the Cowell family, Kris Allen," David said, and Kris wondered if he actually had joined the mafia, and was getting a blessing from the favorite son. David cocked his head. "You know, if you took that shirt off, you'd make a lot more tips. From fellas and ladies both."
Kris could feel the blush, and hoped it didn't show. "Well …"
"We keep telling him that," Syesha said, "but he's a stubborn one."
"I dunno," Kris said, "it just seems kinda strange." He shrugged.
David shook his head. "If I had that body? Are you kidding me? I'd be working it like crazy."
The other man with him came up behind him and put his hands on David's hips, and his chin on David's shoulder. "I love your body, Dave," he said. "I like a man with some junk in his trunk."
David made a face. "Thanks a lot, Michael," he replied.
The girl next to him laughed. Kris recognized her as one of the bartenders at the rock club that Cowell also owned—that pretty Irish girl. "At least he's loyal," she said.
Syesha handed Kris a tray. "It's that time, and you should do it so he can start to remember you."
Kris nodded and grabbed a Red Stripe out of the ice, opening it before placing it on the tray. Simon had a standing order for one an hour to be delivered to his office upstairs. Syesha could afford to be generous—Simon liked her a lot, and was already helping her along—but most of the other bartenders Kris shared his shifts with kept the prized task to themselves.
"Here," David said, "I'll go up with you. The old man'll pitch a fit if he finds out I was here and hadn't gone straight up to see him."
The Irish girl—Carly! That was her name, Carly—laughed again. "The old man will pitch a fit if he finds out you called him that."
"Then he doesn't need to know," David said, winking. He beckoned to Kris, who hopped over the bar to follow him to the staircase, feeling like a junior member of a returning prince's entourage.
The biggest downside of wandering the earth following your tennis-player boyfriend was that eventually you had to come home. Or so David Cook would have said before ten minutes ago. Odd how an over-designed night club felt more like home than anyplace else he could think of, except the stage. Of course things had changed—he'd have to clip the wings of Adam Lambert, who clearly had taken full advantage of his absence to establish himself as the center of everything. He wasn't sure how he'd gone wrong with the kid; sure, he was a little over-the-top for David's taste, and he seemed to be trying a little too hard all the time to be some kind of hard-ass bitch, but when David had tried a little constructive criticism—well, to say that it hadn't been well received was an understatement. But whatever, if the kid couldn't take notes, that wasn't David's problem.
He'd brought Michael Johns with him because that's what committed couples do, bring each other to weird family gatherings, and anyway Simon liked Michael. Carly Hennessey—best friend, fellow rocker, roommate for the past two years—would come along whether David brought her or not, but he was glad to have her as a little extra armor for the whole return of the prodigal thing. They made their way through the crowd, greeting a few people as they went. The open staircase that led to the offices was directly behind the DJ booth, and they waved to Blake as they walked past. He, in return, put David's favorite song into the mix—come calm me down before I get into trouble—so they danced their way upstairs, even that hot new bartender Kris.
Chikeze was at the door as always, and pulled David into a bear hug, picking him up off the ground with a hoot. David patted the other man on the shoulder, then waited as Chikeze gave the knock and opened the door.
David walked in behind Kris and saw Simon sitting at his large desk, writing. Behind him was a large window looking out over the dance floor—Simon liked to keep an eye on things without being in the middle of them. Ryan was perched on the arm of the sofa, flipping through the new issue of Spin, his feet on Simon's chair. Chris Richardson, the club's manager, was sitting in a chair nearby. They saw David, who put a finger to his lips. "Your midnight Red Stripe, sir."
Simon, typically, didn't even look up. "You can set it down there, and please don't call me sir."
"No?" David asked. "I heard you liked it that way."
"What?" Simon said, finally dragging his eyes away from his papers. "My god, he's come back," he said, standing up and walking around the desk.
"Like a bad penny," David said, smiling.
Simon started to shake David's hand, and then pulled him into a hug. "When did you get in?"
"Late last night," he replied. "Jet lag's got us pretty bad—I'm not exactly sure what time it is—but I'm here, and I'm ready to work."
"Brilliant," Simon said, looking on as Ryan and Chris greeted David. He reached out to shake Michael's hand. "Are you here to stay as well?" he asked.
Michael nodded. "Got a broadcast job. I'll be here in New York all spring, preparing, then out to cover the lead up to the French Open in May."
"Good, good. All settled and stable, so David can focus on his music."
David turned to Simon. "I focused on my music on the road, too," he protested.
"Of course you did," Simon replied.
David sat down with Michael on the couch. "Besides, I'm an old married man. How much stability do you need?"
Simon raised one eyebrow. "Green card marriages to lesbians don't count toward your being settled, Cook." He looked down at Carly, who had slumped into a leather chair, her legs over the side. "Speaking of which, sweetheart, that dress is very short to be sitting like that. Not very married ladylike."
"And?" she asked. "You don't care."
"It's true, I can take it or leave it," Simon said, "but you know vaginas frighten Ryan."
Ryan tsked, then sat on the chair, fitting his small frame around Carly's. "You don't know anything about my attitude toward vaginas, Simon. You weren't there at the time."
"Yes, that one time," Simon replied, lighting another cigarette and leaning back against his desk. "Oh," he said, as if seeing Kris for the first time. "Right, you can give that to me. Kris-with-a-K, isn't it? Matt brought you?"
He nodded. "That's right, sir—I mean, Mr. Cowell."
"Please, it's Simon. Playing guitar in the subway?"
"Right, Carly, see if Nick can put him on the schedule over at yours in the next few days, won't you?"
"Sure thing, captain," Carly said, giving him a little salute.
Simon shook his head. "Kris, please don't follow the example you see before you. Disrespect will get you nowhere."
Kris cocked his head. "Didn't you just tell me not to call you sir?"
"He's got you there, Simon," David said.
"Perhaps," Simon said, but he was grinning.
"By the way, Carly and I wanted to bring in a kid to see you," David added. "He has a really great pop feel."
"Do you?" Simon asked. "So does Adam, some girl rock singer. Perhaps we can have a little competition."
Ryan rolled his eyes. "Really, Simon."
Simon just laughed. "Wait, Kris, I'll give you the empty," he said, moving back behind his desk. As he reached for the bottle, his phone rang, "Yes?" he said, waving the bottle for Kris to come toward him and grab it. "I see. Thank you, Adam. No, you did the right thing. Stay there, and don't let anyone else in. Right." He hung up, and stared down at the desk. "Chris—Richardson that is—could you please lead Ryan out the back way? Make sure no one sees you. Then go back around to the front and see Adam. I might need you to make some phone calls."
Chris stood up, as did Ryan. "Will do," he said, and Ryan, wide-eyed, grabbed his jacket, gave Simon a quick kiss, and followed Chris out the back door of the office.
"Everyone else, just stay put for now. Kris, will you open the door, please?"
Kris did so, and Chikeze walked in. "Yeah, Simon?" he asked.
"The police are here," Simon said. "Adam just called from the door. They should be walking in any moment. Just let them do as they please."
"Right," Chikeze replied.
The others all sat up in their chairs at that news—David couldn't imagine why the police would be there, as very little illegal activity went on at Club Idol, particularly compared to other clubs in the city. But Simon didn't seem particularly nervous.
A woman in a suit, followed by two uniformed officers, came in the door. "Simon Cowell?" she asked.
"Yes," Simon said, standing behind his desk and smoking.
She flashed some papers. "We have a warrant to search this office," she said, handing it to Simon.
He looked it over. "Right, well, I'm certainly not going to stop you."
"If you could come out from behind the desk, sir," said one of the officers.
"Of course," Simon said, and went to stand near David.
David expected them to tear the place apart, from what he'd seen on television, but the officers went straight to the desk. They looked through the contents on top of the desk and set them aside on one of the chairs. They moved on to the drawers, and then suddenly, they reached in the very back of one of them, and popped open a central drawer David didn't even know was there. He turned to Simon, whose eyes had widened.
"Got it," one of them said, and pulled out the contents of the drawer—a large brown mailing envelope. He upended it onto the now-empty desk, and out came about a hundred small glassine bags with beige powder in them, all stamped with the number "19".
"That—that's not mine," Simon stuttered.
"This is your desk, sir?" asked the detective.
"Simon Phillip Cowell, you are under arrest for possession of heroin with the intent to distribute …"
They started to read him his rights, but David couldn't focus. The voices faded in and out; an officer walked as if in slow motion, turning Simon around and handcuffing him, and Simon was saying something, but David couldn't make out the words. All he could do was stare at the desk, and the pile of drugs on top of it.
"Dave? Dave?" Michael asked, jostling him, and he snapped out of it. Carly was already on the phone, likely to Blake telling him to shut off the music and get everyone out of there.
As Simon was walked out he turned to David and said, "Call the lawyer and you know who else. I'm trusting you."
"Won't let you down, sir," David said.
It took less than an hour to clear the club, and now some of the staff were sitting in the office along with David Cook and his friends. Chris Richardson had suggested opening the next day as usual, and Ryan had agreed, but after that there didn't seem to be any decisions they could make until the lawyer called. Most of the other bartenders had left, but Kris stayed; since he'd been in the office when Simon was arrested, he felt somehow responsible for helping out. He leaned back against the wall, out of the way, and listened.
Ryan sat cross-legged on top of the desk, as though he didn't want to sit in Simon's chair without him there, and he looked tiny and not a little lost. Kris liked Ryan, who'd gone out of his way to make him feel welcome even though it wasn't even his club—talking to him during the afternoon set-up, taking an interest in how Kris was settling in not only at Club Idol but in New York in general. Kris wasn't sure if it was because they were both small, southern and gay, or because Ryan was actually hitting on him, but he liked to think it was the former.
"What I don't understand," David was saying, "is how Nigel's drugs even got in here."
Ryan looked up at that. "They were Nigel's? You didn't mention that."
"How could they be Nigel's?" Adam asked. "Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure," David replied. "I saw the envelopes, and they had '19' stamped on them."
"But that doesn't make any sense," Adam said.
"That's what I was just saying!"
"Guys," Chris said, waving his hands. "This isn't helping."
"Who's Nigel?" Michael asked, and Kris was glad there was someone else there who didn't completely understand what had happened.
"He's an old friend of Simon's, from back in their London days," Blake explained. "And his organization is responsible for trafficking most of the heroin in the tri-state area."
"So why would it be strange for his drugs to be here?" Michael asked. "Other than that they're not Simon's, of course."
"Nigel owes Simon," Chris said. "Something from when they knew each other in London. So when Simon decided he didn't want any drugs in his clubs, Nigel made it happen. No one sells here, and if we catch anyone at it, we tell Simon, he calls Nigel, and it's taken care of—whether they're working for Nigel or not."
"Must be a big something," Michael said. Kris glanced at Ryan, but he didn't look like he was interested in telling that particular story.
There was a pause, and then Adam said, "So who would want to frame Simon?"
"Who are you, Sonny Crockett?" David asked.
"Someone has to be," Adam replied. "The cops don't care, and we're the ones who know what goes on around here."
"You know what goes on?" David shook his head.
"Yeah, I do," Adam replied.
David scooted forward on the couch. "How long have you even been here? A year?"
"And you've been out of the country for the last nine months," Adam said, "so I'm not sure why you think you should—"
"Why don't you just work together?" Kris asked.
Everyone turned to look at him, which made him a little nervous—performer or no, he wasn't fond of attracting attention. He hoped he wasn't blushing.
"I mean, since you'll know different things and people and all," he continued, then cleared his throat. "And you said it has to be someone from around here, right? Not like Nigel's people are gonna talk to some ex-cop P.I."
Adam scowled at him. "You really expect me to work with him?"
"Yeah, that's a partnership made in hell," David said.
Kris shifted so he was more square on his feet and pushed off the wall. "If you can help Simon, isn't it worth it?"
Both of them looked ready to answer that, but Ryan held up a hand. "I think it's a great idea, Kris. Don't you, Adam? David?"
They both shrugged, and vaguely nodded, though they wouldn't make eye contact with Ryan.
"Good, that's settled." The desk phone rang then, and Ryan reached behind him to answer. "Yes? Oh! I'll put you on speaker," Ryan said, and hopped off the desk to stand behind it. "Everyone, this is Simon's lawyer, David Hernandez. Go ahead."
"Well, he'll be in at least overnight," Hernandez said, "but I have to warn you, I've spoken to the ADA on this and bail doesn't look good."
Ryan sank down into Simon's chair. "Why not?"
"He's not a US citizen, which makes him a flight risk. But I've spoken to him, and he's fine; he'll probably be calling you later."
"So what's our next step?" Ryan asked.
"I need to find a good P.I. to work out who the hell would want to plant those drugs in his office, and who even could. I've called our litigators—"
"Actually," Ryan interrupted, "we have some people here with knowledge of the scene. Can we all meet tomorrow?"
"Well," Hernandez said, "I don't suppose it can hurt. Let's say 11 am; we can work out where we're headed then."
"Sounds like a plan. Thanks, man."
"Of course. Hang in there."
"Will do," Ryan said, and hung up. "Well," he said to the others, "nothing more we can do tonight."
The party broke up then, though it wasn't really a party, not at all. Adam and David made arrangements with Ryan, then left along with everyone else. But Kris hesitated at the door, watching Ryan idly playing with the lighter Simon had left behind. "Ryan?"
He looked up. "Yeah?"
"You sure you're going to be okay?" he asked.
Ryan smiled. "I'll be fine," he said, pulling himself out of the chair and grabbing his coat. "You go home, get some sleep."
Adam waited outside and watched as Cook and his little posse walked down 10th street. Adam didn't have a posse, only Allison, and he'd sent her home as soon as the cops showed up because she was still underage and no one needed that hassle. She was back at the apartment, probably still up and waiting for him to tell her all the news.
Finally Kris and Ryan emerged, and he helped Ryan lock up and get a cab, then walked toward 1st avenue with Kris, who was flipping his keys around in his hand. Adam didn't know Kris that well—the kid was new, and while there had been some early flirtation and an almost-hookup in the back of the club one night, they hadn't spoken much since. The streets had all been plowed, and Sarver had shoveled the front of the club at some point, but most of the sidewalks were still covered in snow, though it had stopped falling an hour or so before.
"You sure you can walk in this weather in those?" Kris asked. With Kris wearing sneakers and Adam still in his platforms he had almost a foot on the guy.
Adam grinned. "They're still boots. Keep my feet dry. I just have to watch for ice."
Kris nodded. "Um, you wanna ride home?" he asked.
"You drove here?" Adam asked, cocking his head.
"Better than taking the L back to Williamsburg at 3 o'clock in the morning," Kris said.
Adam couldn't argue with that—people were always getting stabbed on the L train. "Thanks."
Kris's car was parked around the corner, a tiny blue Honda that had been all but buried by the plow. But the snow was powder-light, and it didn't take them long to clear it off, Kris at the front and Adam at the back, brushing the windows off with big sweeps of his sleeve. The back window had two transparent stickers, one for University of Arkansas and one for the University of Central Arkansas, and just above the bumper was one of those stylized fish. Adam was surprised, as Kris had never said anything much about being some big Christian.
They got in and the car started right up, freezing air blasting out of the vents. "God bless that Japanese engineering," Kris said, rubbing his hands and putting the ice scraper on the floor in the back seat.
"Your car is very clean," Adam said, because it was—Kris didn't have to move piles of things off the front seat like most of Adam's friends back in California. He even had one of those trash cans for the car that you could buy at Pep Boys.
"It didn't used to be," Kris replied, pulling the radio out of his messenger bag and sliding it into its slot in the dash. "Katy treated it like a big purse on wheels. But I figure it's less for people to try to steal." He flipped through a wallet of CDs. "Pumpkins?"
"Sure," Adam said, a little thrown by Kris's casual mention of what must be his ex-wife's name. Then out of what looked like pretty crappy standard issue speakers came a much larger sound, the strings from the opening of "Tonight, Tonight" making the car into a concert hall. "Wow, great stereo."
"Yeah, high school friend hooked me up," Kris said. "Okay, Alphabet City, right?"
"12th and C," Adam replied, nodding. "Great song. Seen the video? It's so gorgeous."
Kris grinned. "You like it because Billy Corgan's wearing a top hat."
"Maybe," Adam replied.
As they pulled out onto the avenue, Kris said, "Sorry if I put you in a bad position."
Adam shrugged. "Like you said, it's for Simon. I figure I can put up with Cook for his sake."
"Yeah. I think a lot of us will be doing what we can."
Kris cocked his head. "I know I haven't been here long," he said, "but I dunno, I'm the kinda fella that people just sorta tell things to, y'know?"
Adam nodded. "Yeah."
"So I figure I'll just keep my ears open, try to ask the right questions."
"Sounds cool," Adam said. "I guess we'll be checking in with you."
Kris nodded. They were stopped at the light on 12th street, and Kris was tapping the drum beat against the steering wheel and singing along under his breath: that life can change, that you're not stuck in vain.
Adam, never one not to sing when he could, joined in: we're not the same, we're different.
Kris turned to him, grinning, and then they were both singing along: tonight, tonight, tonight.
At the break Adam said, "Sorry. I love singing in cars."
"Me too," Kris said. "Especially late at night. 'Bullet with Butterfly Wings' will take me over the bridge."
The song was ending when they pulled up to Adam's building. "Thanks for the lift," Adam said.
"Anytime, really," Kris said, smiling. "I'll see you tomorrow, probably. Carly told me to stop in at Club AGT tomorrow afternoon, and then I'm working."
"Yeah, I'm on tomorrow too," Adam said, smiling back. Getting out of the car wasn't easy given the small car, the messy sidewalk, and the platforms, but he managed to say upright. "Well, goodnight," he said, leaning into the window. "Drive safe."
"Will do," Kris said. They waved, and Kris was on his way.
Inside, as he'd predicted, his roommate Allison Iraheta was up, sitting cross-legged on the futon in the tiny living room eating ramen noodles. She'd grown up in the Bronx, and had first come to the club a few months ago. Adam liked her style, and was looking for a new roommate at the time anyway; Allison had just finished high school and was looking to get out of her mother's house. She had a day job keeping appointments at a tattoo parlor owned by a friend of Carly's, but like all of them, she really wanted to sing, and Adam had been working his magic on Simon on her behalf. He felt protective of her, given the five years he had on her, but sometimes he wondered if she was just as protective of him.
"Dude, what happened with the cops?" she asked.
"Man," Adam said, taking off his coat and then slumping down in a chair, "they found drugs in Simon's desk!"
Allison's eyes grew wide. "I need a drink to hear this story," she said, and over vodka tonics Adam told her everything that had happened, including having to work with Cook.
"Could be worse," she said. "I didn't know him, but he can't be that bad if everyone else likes him."
Adam shrugged. "He isn't bitchy to everyone else," he said.
She snickered. "You can out-bitch anybody, Adam."
"Damn straight," he said, grinning. "And then Kris Allen drove me home," he said, trying to sound casual.
"Really?" she asked. "So what happened?"
"Nothing, he just drove me home, whatever," Adam said. "Nothing to get excited about."
"Come on, Adam," she said. "He's really cool and I know you think he's cute."
"Cute, yeah," Adam said. "And divorced, and out of the closet for about a week and a half. Like, call me when you've been around a few times."
"I guess," Allison said.
Adam looked up at the clock. "Man, it's so late it's early," he said. "I'm gonna hit the sack."
He washed his face—the one hard-and-fast, I-don't-care-how-drunk-you-are rule his mother handed down to him was to always wash off your makeup before going to bed—and then slipped Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness into his discman before turning out the light. He heard Billy Corgan sing the world is a vampire and thought of Kris in his blue Honda headed into Brooklyn and singing along, but Adam was asleep before the song was over.