Tommy watched the rain fall from the dark, looming clouds that hung over New York City. Safe behind thick panes of glass, he could marvel at the power of Mother Nature’s latest storm while staying dry and warm. Fifty some floors below him, the citizens of the city scrambled like rats to get out of the rain, ducking in doorways, jogging for taxis, and battling with umbrellas.
If Tommy turned around he would see stacks upon stacks of boxes, all sealed, precisely labeled, and ready to be shipped. But he didn’t want to look at those. At least, not yet.
Warm arms, strong arms, snaked around Tommy’s waist and pulled him close. Tommy smiled and leaned back into the embrace, tucking his head into the valley between Sam’s collarbone and chin.
“You okay?” Sam’s voice was deep, vibrating low in his chest, tingling against Tommy’s back.
Tommy didn’t answer. His eyes flicked up to the ominous storm clouds. They were so high up, but Tommy felt like he could reach out and touch them if it wasn’t for the glass that kept him dry.
“Are we doing the right thing, Sam?”
Tommy finally turned around, keeping his gaze on his lover’s face instead of the boxes all around them. Sam held him tighter, keeping their bodies fused.
“I think this is what you need to do, yes,” Sam replied in that steady tone of his that always made Tommy feel so reassured. This time, however, it did nothing to still the butterflies in Tommy’s stomach.
“But is it what you want?”
Sam chuckled. “I can write anywhere. We need to be where you can play. And the scene here is so…”
As Sam searched for the perfect word (as a writer, the perfect word was always right there, just out of reach), Tommy jumped in. “Dull?”
Sam laughed again, pulling Tommy close so that he could nip his ear. “Not exactly what I was aiming for, but I’ll take it. You need to be with your kind.”
Tommy grinned at that and leaned back, searching his lover’s dark hazel eyes for any sign of worry. “But what about your kind? What about all your favorite coffee shops and libraries?”
Sam took a few steps backwards, sitting on a pile of boxes marked ‘kitchen.’ “I’ll find other spots to write. And who knows? Maybe I’ll hook up with a few screenplay writers and make it big in Hollywood.”
“God, Sam. You’ll hate those people,” Tommy said, not trying to be funny in the slightest.
“Probably,” Sam agreed, but his eyes were bright and filled with the laughter he kept inside. “I’ll most likely find them shallow, pretentious, and all around detestable. But I’m a writer. I don’t have to socialize if I don’t want to. And you… you need to be back with your bandmates and you need to do this album and tour.” Tommy opened his mouth to speak. “Don’t argue with me, you know you need this. I know you, Tommy. You miss them deep down to the soul.”
Tommy thought of Monte, of Isaac, of Cam and Neil and the dancers, and he nodded. Then he thought of Adam. A thousand protests formed behind his lips.
“But the tour—”
“Will be long, and difficult, and the most fun you’ve had since…well, since the last tour,” Sam said, standing and taking Tommy’s hand in his. “And we’ll be okay. What’s a few hundred miles when you’re in here all the time?” Sam pointed to his head, making Tommy laugh.
Sam called Tommy his muse, and because Sam’s closest companions were mostly imaginary, he kept Tommy’s character in his brain at all times. Since they’d started dating a year and a half ago, a pretty, blond musician had shown up in at least three of Sam’s novels.
Then Tommy’s laughter petered out, the vastness of the things to come stretching out before him. “Are you sure you’re okay with this? Really okay? I can understand if you aren’t.”
Sam looked away for a second, his eyes focusing on the view of the city. Then he nodded, turning back to Tommy with an equally serious face. “I’m okay with this, I promise. I’m okay with the tour, with moving…I’m okay with you working for him again.”
Him. Not the name, only a pronoun. Him. Adam.
“Okay,” Tommy said, trying to make himself sound convinced. He glanced around at the boxes and gave Sam a big smile. “Are we all done?”
“The only thing left is what we’ll carry in our suitcases tomorrow.”
Tommy nodded. Tomorrow they would be on a red-eye to L.A.; their boxes would follow a few days later. “I guess we’re ready, then.”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
Sam stood and planted a small kiss on Tommy’s forehead while squeezing his shoulders. Then he turned to go. “Need to write. You’re very talkative today.”
Tommy laughed at that and watched Sam disappear down the hall to his study before turning back to the skyline of the city. In less than eight hours he’d be saying goodbye to this place, to the friends he’d made here, to the little stages he’d been playing on for over a year. In less than eight hours he’d be back in L.A. Back home. Back with his old friends and the old band.
Back with Adam.
With a grunt, Tommy turned to face the boxes and picked one up, hoping that the simple physical labor of moving would help him ignore the cold, leaden feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Sam’s simple, stunned word echoed around the vaulted ceilings of their new, Los Angeles condo. It was a temporary home; a place to lay their heads while the tour was happening, until they were both in the same place long enough to pick out a real home. But, temporary as it was, the condo was just about the fanciest place Tommy had ever lived in, even nicer than their NYC apartment.
Tommy turned around slowly, giving his boyfriend a show while giggling like a madman. “Glam enough?”
Before Tommy could rotate fully, Sam’s arms were around him. “Definitely going to have to write another rocker blond into this novel.”
Tommy let Sam’s hands wander down his body, enjoying how Sam’s fingers created trails of heat all over his skin. It was one of those rare occasions where Tommy knew he looked good. A tight V-neck tee and black jeans molded to his body, his hair hung down over his eyes, and his eyes were rimmed with black.
“I should wear eyeliner more often,” Tommy said, turning to press his mouth against Sam’s for a short kiss.
“Not if you ever intend on going to rehearsal...” Sam said in that low, growly voice that he only used with Tommy, the one that said he meant business and sex was imminent.
Rehearsal. The word made the bottom of Tommy’s stomach feel like it dropped out.
“I really should get going.”
Sam blew out a breath and relented, arms loosening their grip around Tommy’s waist. “I suppose so.”
“I don’t know how long it’ll take today. I assume we’ll just talk over arrangements, experiment, that sort of thing.” Tommy stopped speaking when Sam held a hand up to quiet him.
“Take as long as you need. I’m just going to be sitting at the computer, talking to myself.”
Although Sam smiled, there was a shift in the air, and the atmosphere seemed to bear down on them like some heavy, unknowable thing. They could not put it off any longer. Today Tommy would see Adam again, for the first time in nearly two years. For the first time since Tommy had told Adam he just couldn’t bear watching him with other men when he was so in love with him himself, and had quit the band and walked out of Adam’s life for his own sanity.
Tommy swallowed and nodded to Sam, resolved. “I won’t be late. I love you.”
Sam kissed him and told Tommy he loved him too, but Tommy left for practice with the fear he’d seen in Sam’s eyes fresh in his mind.