“No. Fucking. Way!”
The individuals who were speaking stood just on the other side of the closed door and Adam Lambert’s sentiment could be clearly heard out in the hall where Kris waited with his guitar. Lambert’s voice went lower, but Kris knew the gist of what he was saying even without the benefit of being able to hear it.
Kris had been briefed by Michael Sarver, his boss and head of Sarver Security, who had in turn been in contact with Judy Garber, who was part of Lambert’s management team. As much as Judy wanted Kris to take the job they’d outlined, she thought it only fair that he knew what he was getting into if he did accept the position. Which was nice of her, actually. Most people would have been happy to drop the entire mess into someone else’s lap so they could wash their hands of it, but Judy really cared about Lambert.
Not that there was any chance of Kris not accepting the job – and it had nothing to do with the tiny crush he’d had on the man a couple years ago when Kris’ voting had helped him win his season of American Idol. Well, almost nothing. Kris Allen had moved to Los Angeles after Adam Lambert won that year, inspired to give his music another shot. It hadn’t worked out as Kris had dreamt it would, but he hadn’t given up on music entirely. He still played clubs on weekends when he was free, and sometimes Cale still joined him.
Today Kris needed to be in top form – he had to be good enough to convince Adam Lambert that Kris’ inclusion in his band wouldn’t compromise the integrity of his tour. The door opened and Kris raised his head from where he’d been resting it against the neck of his guitar, silently praying. He heard Lambert’s tired, “Are we done, yet?”
“No, there’s one more,” Judy said.
Kris met her eyes and she beckoned him into the room.
Adam slumped into his chair and tried to work up a smile for the last person trying out for the open position for a guitarist. They’d been at it all day and he was beginning to forget even the ones he’d liked. On top of the pressure of having to choose someone who could not only play well, but would fit in with the rest of the band, Adam had been arguing with his management team over hiring additional security for the tour. More specifically, over the fact that they wanted to hire a bodyguard to accompany him everywhere he went.
Adam didn’t deny the necessity of a bodyguard (he wasn’t stupid, and the letters he’d been getting lately had been pretty scary, and that was before he’d started receiving so-called ‘gifts’ from his obsessed fan), but he didn’t know why the guys he already had couldn’t do the job. He didn’t want some big hulk looming over his shoulder and scaring off fans, but he liked even less the other idea that his management company had put forth.
Adam was distracted from his musings by the guy Judy returned with. He was cute, there was no denying that, in a boy next door kind of way. Adam wasn’t sure he had the look they were going for with the band, though.
“Hi,” Adam said politely, trying to cover up how much he wished this day was over. It wasn’t this guy’s fault that he was going last. “What’s your name?”
“Hi,” the cutie said. “I’m Kris Allen. It’s nice to meet you.”
Every tired cell in Adam’s body perked up at Kris Allen’s southern accent.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, too,” Adam said, ignoring Tommy’s smirk. He reassessed Kris’ plain charcoal t-shirt, unflattering blue jeans, and unstyled hair. A change of clothes, some hair gel, a little eyeliner . . . . All of this was presuming he could even play the guitar, of course. Adam reigned himself back in and nodded to his musical director, Brian London to begin the audition.
“Whenever you’re ready, Kris,” Brian said.
Kris didn’t bother with the stool. He stood and played three songs, as each of the guitarists trying out had been asked to do, beginning with ‘To Make You Feel My Love’, followed by ‘Everybody Wants To Rule the World’ and ‘Paranoid Android’. The songs each had a different feel, and showcased Kris’ talent well. It didn’t hurt that he moved smooth as honey when he lost himself in the music.
“That was great, Kris,” Brian said when Kris had finished. He made some notes that Adam couldn’t see from where he sat, then asked, “Do you play any other instruments?”
“I play acoustic and electric guitar,” Kris said. “Piano and keyboards. And the viola, if that ever comes up,” he added with a self-deprecating grimace and shrug that made Adam smile.
“Can you sing?” Brian asked.
“Yes,” Kris said.
“Can we hear something?”
“Sure,” Kris said. He looked surprised, but not shaken. He went silent for a moment, thinking. His thumb moved over the strings before he spoke, almost as if they’d made the decision before his brain had. “I usually play this one with an electric, but this song is one I’ve been playing around with.”
Adam had to admit that he was impressed. Not only by Kris’ soulful voice, but by the rearrangement. Adam didn’t take his eyes off Kris, merely nodded his head in agreement when Tommy leaned over and said, “That sounds better than the original.”
“Wonderful job,” Brian said when Kris had finished. “Thank you for coming in. We’ll get back to you in the next day or two.”
“Thank you for the opportunity,” Kris said politely. He shook hands with Brian, nodded to Adam and Tommy, and followed Judy to the door. If Adam’s eyes followed Kris as he walk to the door it had absolutely nothing to do with the way even his loose jeans fit over his hips. Judy and Kris shook hands, and then the door closed behind him.
“Does he go on the short list?” Brian asked.
“Yes,” Tommy said immediately.
Adam didn’t answer right away. “I don’t know,” he finally said. He wanted to say yes, but he thought it might be for all the wrong reasons.
“You want to say yes,” Tommy said.
“What’s the problem?” Brian asked.
“He’s afraid he’s thinking with his dick,” Tommy answered.
“Tommy!” Adam said, but he didn’t deny it.
“Your fans won’t hate you for putting another cute boy in the band,” Brian said easily.
“Yeah, isn’t that why you chose me?” Tommy teased, kicking at the leg of Adam’s chair.
“That was different,” Adam said, swatting at Tommy’s leg. “You had this whole *look* going on that I thought would fit well with the band.”
Tommy shrugged. “Nothing hair and make-up can’t fix.”
The sentiment eerily mirrored Adam’s earlier thought. He sighed. “What do you think?” Adam asked Brian.
“He was good. His arrangement of ‘Heartless’ was amazing. Guy’s got talent.” Brian shrugged. “But if you don’t think he’s a good fit we’ll take him out of consideration.”
“Put him on the list,” Adam said. It wasn’t as if just adding him to the short list obligated Adam in any way, and it put off him having to make a decision either way.
Tommy clapped his shoulder and Adam almost missed the there and gone again expression of relief that crossed Judy’s face.
Kris was nervous about the looming meeting with Adam Lambert and Judy Garner. Judy had called him last night to tell him that he’d made the short list for call backs, so that was one hurdle out of the way. However, this was far from a done deal. Their biggest problem would be getting Lambert on board with the plan.
Kris waited alone in Judy’s office – she’d gone out to meet Lambert and escort him back. He took deep breaths to try and calm his nerves. Kris wasn’t the most experienced at security work, but he was the best qualified for the undercover position. When he heard voices nearing, Kris stood. He wiped his palms on the seat of his slacks, having traded jeans and t-shirt for something a little more professional. Judy ushered Lambert into the room and closed the door behind him before he registered Kris’ presence.
“Kris Allen,” Lambert said, frowning. “What are you doing here?”
Kris held out his hand. “It’s a pleasure to see you again, Mr. Lambert.”
Lambert reflexively clasped Kris’ hand. “Yes, you too, but I’m afraid I don’t understand why you’re here.”
“I work for Sarver Security, the company that will be providing security for your upcoming tour,” Kris told Adam before Judy had to break the news about having told the tiniest of white lies to him.
Kris watched the expressions cross Lambert’s face as he processed that statement. He wasn’t pleased when he finally figured it out. “So, what, your audition yesterday was a joke?”
Confusion and anger had given way to a blank stare – Kris found that he much preferred any of the others to that. Kris shook his head. “No, it was very real, Mr. Lambert. I needed to convince you, and to be honest, myself, that I was good enough to do this. It’s not a good cover if everyone can see through it.”
Lambert shook his head. Kris wasn’t sure he’d even heard a word he’d said. “I’m out of here.”
And he would have been, except Judy stood blocking the door. “You can’t leave,” she told him firmly. “Not without making a decision about this.”
“I’ve already made a decision,” Lambert said. He pointed angrily at Kris. “He is not going on tour with me.”
“That’s fine,” Judy said, sounding calmer than she looked. “But someone has to.”
Judy dropped the bombshell she’d been hiding from both Lambert and Kris. “Because RCA is going to cancel your tour if they can’t guarantee your safety.”
Shit, Kris swore silently. That was not the kind of ultimatum that would make Adam Lambert more inclined to listen to reason. Kris had to salvage this meeting, and quickly.
“Judy,” Kris said before Lambert could say anything. (And he looked like he had plenty to say once he was able to speak.) “Could Mr. Lambert and I have a moment?”
Judy gave Kris a helpless (and hopeful) look. “Of course,” she said, and then quickly escaped.
Lambert didn’t move – he still stood staring at the door Judy had closed behind her swift exit.
“They’re just worried about you,” Kris said.
And not without reason – Kris had seen the letters that had gotten progressively worse, and the ‘gifts’ Lambert’s stalker had left him.
“Listen.” Kris sighed. “I understand your concern. It is not my intention to compromise your tour. If you don’t think I’m good enough to stand up to the scrutiny, we’ll do something else.” Kris was actually more worried about Lambert’s fans than the music critics. “We do have other options, you know?”
There were only a couple of other options, but they had them. The problem was keeping Kris close to Adam without his stalker realizing that Kris was there to protect Lambert, and hopefully help Cale and the LAPD capture him before he could hurt anyone, but especially before he could hurt Adam.
“Like what?” Lambert said without turning. The straight line of his shoulders told Kris as much as his facial expression would have. But at least he was willing to listen.
“You could give your PA a month’s paid vacation and I can take over her duties.”
Lambert shook his head. “I can’t lose my PA. Barb is the only thing that keeps me sane some days.” He half turned his head, not quite looking at Kris. “What else?”
“We could pretend we’re dating,” Kris said, hoping he sounded more blase about that prospect than he felt.
Lambert’s eyes jerked up to meet Kris’ gaze at the suggestion. He snorted. “No one would believe I’d go out with you.”
Kris noted the barb, but let it slide off his back. Lambert was speaking out of frustration, Kris knew, besides, he’d done his research as part of the job. “Oh please,” he said before he could censor himself, “everyone would believe it. I’m just your type. The hard part,” Kris added, “would be getting people to believe I’d go out with you.”
Lambert’s eyebrows went up. “Why, because I’m a guy?”
“Because you’re irritating,” Kris said.
That brought Lambert swinging around to face Kris. “I’m irritating?”
“I’m glad you see my point,” Kris said.
“I don’t see your point! You don’t even have a point! Your point isn’t at all pointy!”
Kris had to bite his lip to keep from smiling.
“If anyone’s irritating it’s you,” Lambert muttered.
Kris couldn’t hold back his huff of laughter at that, though he cut it off when Adam glared at him.
“Can we maybe start over?” Kris said. He held out his hand again. “Hi, I’m Kris Allen.”
Lambert stared at Kris’ hand for a couple of very long seconds before taking it in his own. “Adam Lambert,” he said grudgingly.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Kris said. “Can I get you something to drink? Judy has a fully stocked mini-fridge. I think I even saw some chocolate in the back.”
“Just water, thank you,” Lambert said. “And no chocolate. These hips need to fit into my costume for the tour.”
Kris got out the water and tried not to think about Adam Lambert’s hips.
Adam took the bottle of water from Kris, and he sat on the couch in Judy’s office. He was willing to start over so long as Kris understood that he wasn’t willing to compromise the integrity of his tour. Still, he needed to clear the air about one thing before they could move forward with discussions of any kind.
“You lied to me,” Adam said.
Kris, at least, had the grace to look guilty about that.
“Yeah, I’m sorry for the subterfuge.” Kris lowered himself to the other end of the couch and sat turned so he was facing Adam. “Judy mentioned that you were opposed to the idea, and why, which I totally understand, so I suggested that we let you hear me play.”
“Whose idea was it to not be straight with me about who you are?”
Kris’ silence was answer enough. Adam wasn’t even surprised, really. Judy’s motto was ‘any means to an end’.
“To be fair,” Kris said, “she did have reason to believe that you might be, uh, biased. She thought it might be better if you heard me without any preconceived notions clouding your judgment.”
Kris sounded so much like Judy when he said that, it made the corner of Adam’s eye twitch. Adam hated being micro-managed, hated the implication that he might not have made his decision about Kris’ talent with a clear head. He hated even more that Judy might have been right about that. He knew himself well enough to know that he might have rejected Kris on principle alone, had he known who he worked for.
Adam didn’t like having the extra security shoved down his throat, but he had to admit that given how well Kris had played, his main reason for being against it was effectively quashed. “Say I go along with this,” Adam said grudgingly. “What’s the plan?”
Kris leaned forward, his expression all earnest. “First and foremost we need to keep you, and everyone around you, safe.”
“What do you mean by ‘everyone around me’?”
“People like this, they have no boundaries. They’ll do whatever it takes to achieve their objective, which is you. They’ll hurt people close to you out of jealousy, they’ll hurt anyone that gets in their way. We’d like to minimize the collateral damage as much as possible.
Adam hadn’t thought about that, hadn’t realized that his obsessed fan might hurt his friends. “What makes you think this guy’ll hurt anyone?” he asked.
“Because they always do,” Kris said. “He’s already started escalating – first the tone of the letters, now the ‘gifts’. It’s only a small step for him to turn to physical violence against you or someone close to you.”
The detectives had told him all this, but Adam hadn’t really believed them. He found it difficult to believe he might have a stalker. Stalking was something that happened to other people, something you read about and hoped never happened to you. Kris’ matter-of-fact delivery scared Adam more than any of Judy’s dire predictions had.
“What else?” At Kris’ frown of confusion, Adam elaborated. “You said ‘first and foremost’ . . . .”
“We need to catch him,” Kris said.
Adam liked the way he said that, as if he had no doubt that they would.
“What does all this entail?”
“You’re going to have an ‘official’ bodyguard, one the public sees. Michael Sarver, my boss, is going to handle this personally. Cale Mills is already working with LAPD, and he’ll continue to work with the detectives and your management, following up on any leads we can get them. And then there’s me – I’ll be with you every second of every day, undercover. I’ll be the one nobody sees coming,” Kris finished.
“Like a ninja,” Adam said.
Kris laughed at that. Despite his misgivings about this whole thing, Adam found that he quite liked the sound of Kris’ laughter. And his plain speaking, which had made it clear to Adam that he had to do something. Continuing on with his head in the sand wasn’t helping, and might actually get someone hurt.
Adam thought about the options that Kris had given him. Replacing his PA would get Barb to safety, but such a change to his intimate circle would be noted. The same with the idea of Kris acting as his boyfriend. Aside from the fact that Adam had been telling all the interviewers that he was single, and that he wasn’t looking for a relationship right now because going on tour was hard enough on an established relationship. And how would he explain taking a new boyfriend on tour with him? There would be too many questions, too much digging into his background. And Adam wasn’t even talking about the media – his fans could be relentless, and those were the sane ones who didn’t send him letters saying they were meant to be together forever.
Adam sighed. Taking Kris along as his guitarist was really the simplest and best solution. Especially since he could play well enough to have made their short list for call backs. (One thing Adam was certain of was that, if it had turned out that Kris couldn’t play, he would have definitely put the kibosh on the idea no matter how cute Kris was.) (Pretty certain, anyway.)
“Alright, fine,” Adam said. “You’re in the band.”
Kris nodded and held out his hand. “Thank you, Mr. Lambert.”
“You’re going to have to start calling me Adam,” Adam said as he clasped Kris’ hand.
Kris smiled. “Alright. Adam.”
“What do we tell the others?” Adam asked.
“Nothing,” Kris said. “The fewer people who know who I am, the less chance we have of it getting out, and the better chance we have of your stalker slipping up. Right now it’s just you, me, and Judy. If you need to let anyone else know, we’d appreciate it if you cleared it with Mike, first.”
Adam nodded. He didn’t like the idea of lying to his friends, but he could see Kris’ point. “Alright,” he agreed. “In that case, you realize that means you’ll still have to go through the call back process, then.”
Kris was more anxious about the call back than the original audition. He didn’t understand it, especially since it was merely a formality. Kris figured that maybe he wanted to make a really good impression on Adam and the others because it was just a formality – he didn’t want Adam to think he’d made a mistake by allowing Kris into his band. When Kris mentioned it to Cale, he just rolled his eyes and refused to elaborate no matter how much Kris badgered him about it.
He went last again. Kris hoped it was so he was fresh in their minds when Adam made his decision, but he had a sneaking suspicion that it was because Adam knew he hated going last. Kris tried not to pay any attention to the other guitarists that had been invited back, knowing he was taking the job from one of them. Instead, Kris played his guitar, warming up his fingers and making sure it was tuned properly.
Finally, Kris was called in. His relief at getting it over with almost eclipsed his nerves.
“Hi, Kris,” Brian greeted him. “Nice to see you again.”
“Hi,” Kris said, sketching a wave at everyone sitting at the table. Today there was one more person present – Kris recognized him as Isaac Carpenter, Adam’s drummer.
“Play us something on the acoustic, will you?” Brian said. “And then we’d like to hear you on the electric.”
Kris hadn’t brought his electric with him, which meant he’d be borrowing one. The first step to catch him off guard and see how he responded under pressure? he wondered. Kris settled himself on the stool they’d provided and played ‘The Scientist’. He switched out guitars and played ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’.
When he was done Kris couldn’t tell from Adam’s or Brian’s faces how he’d done. Tommy was more forthcoming and gave Kris a surreptitious thumbs up. Adam and Brian bent their heads together and then Brian looked at Kris. “You said you could play keyboard as well?”
When Kris agreed that he could, Brian gestured towards the keyboard. Kris played ‘Bring It Back’ and again Adam and Brian conferred. This time Adam spoke.
“You showed us the other day that you can also sing. You did a great job with your rearrangement of ‘Heartless’, but I’m more concerned with whether you can handle the songs we’ll be doing in concert. Would you sing one of my songs, please?”
This time Kris knew it was a test. He didn’t know whether to be impressed with Adam’s ingenuity or frustrated that he was making this more difficult than it had to be. Kris picked up his acoustic and sat back down on the stool. They brought him a microphone and Kris arranged it to his satisfaction.
“I don’t actually know any of your songs,” Kris said, just to see the expression on Adam’s face. “But I think you’ve done this one in concert before.”
Kris played the opening chords to ‘Whole Lotta Love’, then stopped. “Just kidding,” he said, and watched everyone but Adam break into a grin. Kris winked at Adam and then started strumming the notes to one of his favorite Adam Lambert songs – one that had spoken to him from the first time he’d heard it.
Broken pieces, break into me
So imperfectly what you should be
When the last note died away there was a moment of silence, and then someone applauded. Kris ducked his head and looked at Adam, whose reaction was difficult to read.
Adam glanced at Tommy, who nodded. He turned to look at Isaac, and then at Brian, who smiled at Kris. “Welcome to the band.”
Adam probably shouldn’t have enjoyed putting Kris through his paces, so to speak, quite as much as he did. He paid for it, though, because he was forced to watch Kris’ sensual side come out to play. And when Kris claimed he didn’t know a single one of Adam’s songs, he couldn’t deny he felt the sting, even though it turned out that Kris had only been teasing.
But when Kris played the opening notes of ‘Broken Open’, Adam had been stunned. He’d expected one of his better known singles, ‘Whataya Want From Me’ from his first album, maybe, or ‘Better Than I Know Myself’ from the second. Perhaps his current single, ‘Trespassing’, even, though he wouldn’t have been sure that was in Kris’ wheelhouse before he’d heard his rearrangement of ‘Heartless’.
Instead Kris had chosen a song that not only hadn’t been released as a single, but that Adam had only sung on tour a few times. A song that Adam had co-written, and the lyrics of which still moved him.
Adam couldn’t dwell on the implications of Kris being familiar enough with the song to perform it in an audition, though, because Kris’ version of the song stole his breath away. He’d infused the song with so much emotion, Adam could fully believe that Kris had lived every heart wrenching moment of it.
Adam didn’t know who started applauding first. Kris ducked his head and for a moment Adam saw just the musician. There was no obsessed fan, no safety issue, only the desire to make music. And then Kris pulled back within himself, pulled the mask of the musician on over the face of the potential bodyguard. But Adam had seen to the core of him, had seen a man who lived to make music. That was one thing they had in common. Well, that and not wanting anything to happen to any of Adam’s friends.
It didn’t take long to get a consensus. The others had seen the same thing Adam saw – the musician that lived in Kris’ soul. Before the last word of congratulations left Brian’s lips, Tommy was up and welcoming Kris to the band. They were already talking chords and strings as Isaac joined them.
“I think we made the right choice,” Brian said.
“Yeah,” Adam agreed, and he hadn’t even needed to use his position to convince anyone that Kris was their guy.
Adam clapped Brian on the shoulder and shook his hand. It had been a long couple of days, but the chore of choosing a guitarist for the tour was over, even if the man they’d chosen was only there to keep Adam safe. Adam shook his head. No, that wasn’t quite right. Kris was there to keep Adam safe, but he wasn’t just going through the motions of making music. Anyone, especially the people in Adam’s band, would have been able to see through that.
Adam and Brian wandered over to the rest of the band. Adam shook Kris’ hand and welcomed him to the tour, and then introduced Brian. Kris shook Brian’s hand as well.
“I’ve got to be home early,” Isaac said, “but we should go out for a drink to welcome Kris to the family.”
Tommy and Brian threw in, and then everyone looked at Adam. “Yeah,” he agreed, “we should do that.”
They all walked out together and waited for Kris to put his guitar in its case. Watching Kris handle the instrument with both care and experience made Adam wonder what life had thrown Kris’ way that instead of making his living on a stage somewhere he’d ended up working for a security company.
“Was any of that true?” Adam asked Kris later.
Everyone else had left; Tommy had plans with his girlfriend Christy, and Brian had needed to make the rejection calls to the other guitarists that hadn’t made the band. Adam didn’t envy him the task. He just hoped that Brian kept the names for when Kris eventually left them.
Kris gave Adam a frown made fuzzy by the number of drinks he’d had. Or the number of drinks Adam’d had.
Adam gave an airy wave of his hand. “That whole Arkansas boy moved to LA to make it in music stuff.”
“All true,” Kris affirmed.
“But . . . you’re good,” Adam said. “How’d you end up working . . . ?” He gestured again.
“Not good enough, I guess,” Kris said with a self-deprecating shrug. “But thanks.”
“But that’s . . . bollocks!” Adam said.
Kris laughed at him. “You are not driving yourself home.”
“It is a bad idea to drink when you’re exhausted,” Adam agreed. “But you’ve drank just as much as I have.”
“After the first beer it’s all been water, Adam.”
Adam frowned. That felt like a bit of a betrayal.
“I’m on duty, remember?”
And just like that Adam was completely sober.
Being in Adam’s band during the tour, when they’d be living on a bus and performing together almost every night, would allow Kris to keep an eye on Adam nearly 24/7. But unless he wanted to move in with Adam, Kris couldn’t do that while they remained in LA.
Before rehearsals started (but after Kris’ first fitting for a set of Adam-approved stage clothes because Adam said it couldn’t wait), Kris introduced Adam to Michael Sarver. Mike had started Sarver Security about five years ago after a chance incident set him on the path. He’d been playing at a dive bar in LA one night and ended up assisting the bouncers when a couple of drunks in the crowd got out of hand.
After that the bar hired him to sit at the corner of the stage and glower at the rowdy crowd when other acts were performing. Kris found that hilarious, because Mike was pretty much the definition of marshmallow. Soon he was making more money doing security than he was playing music, and since he had a family to support the decision was a no-brainer for him.
“I loved music,” Mike had once told Kris and Cale over drinks, “but the music industry didn’t love me.”
They met a couple years ago when Sarver Security had been hired as security for a music fest featuring new/up-and-coming artists put on by one of the local radio stations. Mike and Cale got talking and the rest, as they say, was history. Kris and Cale had both needed some extra cash to make ends meet, and Sarver Security had been hiring.
They started small, taking a few jobs here and there to supplement what they made from their gigs, but soon they were working more security jobs than they were performing. Unlike Mike, however, Kris hadn’t been able to give it up completely. He’d packed away the dream of making it on his music alone, but Kris didn’t think he’d ever be able to stop making music completely.
Mike met them in Judy’s office. He greeted Adam with a smile and a firm handshake. If he’d left Texas with any prejudices, he’d lost them after living in LA for over six years.
Mike was direct. He told Adam that he could kiss any semblance of a normal life goodbye for the foreseeable future. He said it in a matter-of-fact tone that brooked no dissent. Anytime Adam stepped out of the house, someone would be with him, whether he was headed to rehearsal, fittings, lunch with his mother, or out clubbing. Adam might have argued the necessity of being so closely guarded if he hadn’t received yet another ‘gift’ just that morning. His stalker was still escalating, and this package, rather than being mailed to his management company, had been left outside the locked gate at his home.
Kris was glad that Adam was finally taking the threat this stalker posed seriously, but he hated to see the pale skin visible even beneath the make-up Adam had carefully reapplied after throwing up what little he’d eaten that morning.
“And we need to inform the rest of your band and the crew,” Mike concluded.
Adam glanced in surprise at Kris before looking back to Mike. “I thought we weren’t going to say anything . . . .”
“Not about Kris,” Mike corrected. “He’ll remain undercover. I’ll be the public face of Sarver Security, the person everyone sees guarding you, and the one who’ll answer any questions they have. But they do need to be made aware of the stalker. I know Kris told you that there’s a slight chance they could be in danger if this guy sees them as a threat, or as a means to an end. They need to follow safety protocols, such as not wandering off alone, and it won’t hurt if they keep their eyes open for anything out of the ordinary.”
Kris left the meeting with Adam. If anyone saw them and asked, they could say he’d been there to finalize his contract. In the car Kris got the call that Saver’s tech team had finished installing cameras at Adam’s place. If his stalker showed up again they’d hopefully get him on camera. Unfortunately, no fingerprints had been left on the gift box from that morning. This guy was careful.
When Kris disconnected the call he noticed that they hadn’t taken the exit to Adam’s place. “Where are we going?”
“Shopping,” Adam said. “It always makes me feel better.”
He said it with enough determination that Kris figured he was channeling the principle of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. Kris decided the least he could do was fake it right along with him.
“I didn’t think there’d be any room left in your closet,” Kris said lightly.
“‘Room’ has nothing to do with it,” Adam said loftily. “Besides, we’re not going shopping for me.”
“Then for who . . . ? Oh,” Kris said when he saw the smirk on Adam’s face.
Well, at least he wasn’t dwelling on the stalker anymore, Kris thought morosely. That was a win, right?
For the next couple of weeks, Adam kept busy with rehearsals, final fittings, and last minute meetings with his label to update the tour schedule. The more shows they put on, the busier he was, the happier he’d be. Everywhere he went he was accompanied by one of Sarver’s security people. Kris was there at rehearsals, but every place else either Mike or another bodyguard named Cale Mills was with him.
Even though he’d fought tooth and nail against it, Adam couldn’t deny that he was relieved to have someone with him. It angered him that he no longer felt safe in his own home, that he’d started looking over his shoulder when he went out, and that he dreaded approaching his gate for fear his stalker (he’d stopped thinking of this person as a misguided obsessed fan) had left him another horrifying ‘gift’.
It had been creepy when letters that had been full of love for him and passion for his music first turned possessive, with claims that they belonged together, and then ugly, accompanied by photos of Adam and dates to various red carpet events, or of him and Tommy kissing on tour, with the dates’ and Tommy’s faces viciously scratched out. But he had not been prepared to find an eviscerated cat practically on his doorstep. Even more sickening had been the proclamation of love and adoration that accompanied it. All because Adam had blithely stated in an interview a few days before that he was allergic to cats, and more of a dog person besides.
Staying busy was the only way to keep from thinking about his stalker, and wondering where he was, what he was up to. When next he’d hear from him. Adam didn’t have much spare time, luckily, and most of what little there was he spent with friends he wouldn’t see for weeks, maybe months. The rest he spent choosing clothes for Kris to wear on stage, and not a few to replace the ones Kris intended to pack for causal. Shopping was fun for Adam, and it had the added bonus of annoying Kris, so it was a win-win.
Mike and Judy were present for their first full band rehearsal. (Kris and Tommy had held a couple of rehearsals to help Kris get up to speed on some of the songs they’d be performing during the tour. Adam had joined them once.) After the rehearsal Judy told everyone about Adam’s stalker, up to and including the most recent ‘gift’, and then introduced them all to Michael Sarver.
Mike explained that either he or one of his associates would be with Adam at all times while they were in LA, and that he’d be accompanying them on the tour. He told them that his company was working with the LAPD detectives to apprehend the stalker. He also assured them that they shouldn’t be afraid, but urged them to be cautious – change up routines, don’t go out alone – and to keep an eye out for anyone acting suspicious.
When the truth was out, his friends were equal parts concerned for his safety and annoyed that he’d kept it to himself and hadn’t confided in them before now. Instead of acting like Mike’s presence on tour was going to interfere (as Adam had done with Kris), they welcomed him wholeheartedly. It humbled Adam a little bit that his friends took his safety more seriously than he at first had done.
Their first concert was at the Staples Center. It was unexpected that they had a slot for him at just the right time, but Adam thought it was the perfect way to kick off his second tour. When Kris wasn’t by his side, Mike was, but Adam was able to forget about his stalker and enjoy the night. His friends and family were there, and he had a chance to say a last goodbye to them after the concert, before he stepped outside the venue to sign some autographs for his fans.
Beside him, Mike touched his ear bud and listened, eyes still moving over the crowd. “We have to go,” he said when he released the ear bud. “The buses are ready to leave.”
Adam took one last photograph that was being thrust toward him by a hopeful fan and scribbled his name to it. “I’m sorry,” he told the crowd as he handed it back. “I have to be going. We’ve got a long drive ahead of us.” Adam waved at his fans. “Thank you all for coming!”
Another fan shoved something into Adam’s hand and his fingers reflexively closed around it before he reluctantly turned away from his fans and led the way to the bus.
The first week of tour went by quickly and easily. Almost too smoothly. Kris hoped the thought alone didn’t jinx him. They had shows five nights out of seven, and when they weren’t performing they were usually either traveling between shows, doing sound checks, or making radio appearances. Kris joined Adam for all of his acoustic performances. Mike went along as well so he could keep an eye on the crowd. He figured that such a small, intimate performance would be just the thing to attract Adam’s stalker. So far there had been no indication that he’d shown up at any of the tour stops, but Mike assured Kris that it was only a matter of time before he did.
Most of the free time they had was spent catching up on sleep, though they did manage to fit in lunch and some sightseeing on a couple of days. Most of the band accompanied Adam on those excursions, so Kris’ presence wasn’t questioned. They also took turns choosing games to play (Tommy, Kris quickly learned, loved Monopoly, and his motto was ‘take no prisoners’; Isaac, on the other hand, needed to bone up on Go Fish for when his kids visited) or DVDs to watch. Once Kris and Tommy got out their guitars and jammed while the rest of the band sang or played along with instruments they’d created out of spoons, cups and the kitchen table.
(Kris felt a little bit guilty when he realized that he liked Adam’s band and was becoming friends with them, especially Tommy.)
When he wasn’t sleeping or making them watch Gossip Girl or complaining that he was gaining weight (Kris would have told him that he really wasn’t if Adam had asked, which he didn’t), Adam was on his phone – either tweeting his fans or texting Barb (whom he’d decided to leave home for her own safety, a decision of which Mike had approved) to demand that she overnight his favorite pair of boots (No, the other favorite pair!) to their next stop because he couldn’t live another day without them.
The first incident happened two weeks in. Adam had been hired to make an appearance at a local club the night before his performance. The entire band was invited to attend, as well. They sat in the VIP section, so they were only approached by other VIPs. Still, Kris kept a close eye on each person during their interaction with Adam and took some photos with his phone just in case they needed to identify anyone later.
Everything was going well until Adam decided he wanted to dance. Before Kris could say anything, Tommy offered to go with him. Adam smirked at Kris, as if he’d been trying to force Kris onto the dance floor even though he’d already made it perfectly clear that he didn’t like to dance at these kinds of clubs. Kris let them go without making a fuss, but he moved over to the railing so he could keep an eye on them.
He’d only been standing there for a few minutes when Brian joined him. “You’re worried about him.”
It wasn’t a question.
“Yeah,” Kris said absently as his gaze followed Adam and Tommy. Almost as soon as they stepped onto the dance floor they’d been swarmed and were now dancing surrounded by a shifting circle of pretty boys and girls.
“Stalking is very serious,” Kris went on. “And a place like this is just asking for trouble. It would be so easy for someone to spike his drink or slip him something.”
“You don’t think the stalker’s in here?” Brian sounded surprised.
“We don’t know,” Kris said. “That’s the problem. He could be anyone. Anywhere.”
Kris had glanced at Brian to emphasize his point, and when he looked back down at the dance floor he couldn’t find Adam right away. He zeroed in on Tommy’s shock of blond hair and then moved out from there, sweeping his gaze over the crowd. Still no Adam.
“I can’t find him,” Kris said, his stomach seizing in panic. “Do you see him?”
Brian moved up closer to the railing, his shoulder stiff against Kris’. “No.”
Kris didn’t run, but only because the crowd kept him from doing so. It seemed to take him forever to reach Tommy.
“Where’s Adam?” Kris yelled to be heard over the music.
“He had to go to the bathroom,” Tommy yelled back.
“And you let him go alone?”
“What was I going to do, hold it for him?”
Kris didn’t bother replying, just pushed his way through the writhing throng in the direction of the bathroom. He felt Brian at his back. The crowd thinned out slightly once they got off the dance floor. At one point Brian steered Kris around a knot of people who looked about ready to erupt into a fight. When they got to the hallway, though, Adam wasn’t in either of the lines for the bathrooms, nor was he inside either of them – Kris checked both, too worried to be embarrassed when some of the ladies invited him to stay.
On their way back to the main room of the club Brian spotted Adam and pointed him out to Kris. Adam was being pressed up against the wall by some guy, and in his frantic state it took Kris a few seconds to realize that instead of being attacked Adam was making out with him. Relief caused his concern for Adam’s well-being to turn to anger. Kris grabbed the unsuspecting make-out-ee by the shoulder and dragged him away from Adam.
“What the fuck?” the guy said.
“Get lost,” Kris snarled.
“You get lost,” the guy said. “I was here first.”
“Take a hike,” Brian said, backing up Kris.
The guy swore and looked like he was torn between fighting for Adam or giving that whole ‘lots of other fish in the sea’ thing a shot. He wisely decided to go fishing.
“What. The hell?” Adam hissed after the nameless guy disappeared into the crowd.
Kris ignored him and pulled out his cell phone. “I’m calling the car,” he told them. “We’re leaving.”
“We can’t leave,” Adam and Brian said at the same time.
Adam looked defiant; Brian, apologetic.
“He needs to stay at least until midnight to fulfill the contract,” Brian told Kris.
Kris glanced at the time on his cell; it was just minutes after eleven.
“And I’m not being dragged out of here like some recalcitrant child,” Adam said between gritted teeth.
Kris bit his lip on the retort that he wouldn’t treat Adam like a child if he didn’t act like one. It would have felt good for a few seconds, but it would have been counterproductive. (And he would have sounded too much like his mother.)
“Fine, but we’re spending the next hour up in the VIP section.”
Adam didn’t argue, so Kris didn’t have to press the issue. And he would have, because nothing, not even Kris’ undercover status, was more important than Adam’s safety.
Back in the VIP section Kris didn’t join the others. He got a cold bottle of water and found a spot against the railing where he had a good view of the seating area they’d claimed and had himself a good brood as his mama would’ve called it. He was angry – partly at Adam and Tommy for treating the threat Adam’s stalker posed so lightly, but mostly at himself. He should never have let Adam go down to the dance floor without him. The band knew of the danger in theory, but it was Kris’ job to keep Adam safe, not theirs.
The limo ride back to the hotel was silent. Finally Adam exploded, “I just need to get laid!”
“Then do it with someone you know,” Kris snapped back. “Instead of someone that could turn out to be your stalker. Like Tommy,” he added meanly.
Tommy squawked. “I have a girlfriend!”
“I’ve talked to Christy,” Kris said. “She’d be okay with it if you sent her pictures.”
Tommy snorted. “In theory, maybe. In reality I think she’d cut off my balls.”
“So we need another solution,” Brian said lightly.
“Kris is single,” Isaac said. Everyone, including Kris, turned to look at him. “I mean, if we need someone to take one for the team,” he explained, the corners of his lips twitching.
“I’m not sleeping with him!” Kris and Adam both said. They glared at each other and then looked away, both ignoring the half-drunk, half-sleepy giggles of the others that filled the limo.
The only problem was, once Isaac put the notion out there into the universe, Kris couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Kris was silent the rest of the drive back to the hotel. It was just as well because Adam didn’t feel like talking, either. He’d put on a show back at the club so there would be no surprise twitpics of him scowling, but he was still a little bit pissed that Kris had cockblocked him. It had been embarrassing, having Kris tear that guy away like that. And a little bit hot. Adam didn’t know what pissed him off more, the fact that Kris was (kind of) (sort of) right, or his body’s reaction when he remembered the expression on Kris’ face when he’d told that guy to get lost.
Fuck, Adam thought. I really need to get laid.
At the hotel Kris got out of the limo first. He paused for a moment that would be imperceptible to the others, and Adam pictured him surveying their surroundings for danger before he stepped away to make room for the rest of them to exit. Kris waited until Adam was surrounded by his bandmates before taking one last look around and walking over to Michael Sarver, who waited just outside the hotel entrance. They spoke for a moment and then Kris disappeared inside without glancing back.
Mike followed them into the elevator and trailed Adam to his room. Adam sighed as he unlocked the door and pushed it open, holding it long enough for Mike to follow him inside. Mike looked around the room, checked the bathroom and even the closet alcove.
When he was finished with his inspection Mike headed for the door. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“What, no lecture?” Adam said, surprised.
“Any discussion should probably wait until everyone is sober,” Mike said. “And has had a chance to cool down,” he added before stepping outside and pulling the door shut behind him. Adam heard him test the handle before his footsteps moved off down the hallway.
Which meant that Kris really was mad at him. Kris had never been mad at him before. Annoyed, frustrated, even worried, but never mad. Adam didn’t like the way it made him feel knowing that Kris was unhappy with him. Even if he’d done absolutely nothing wrong. Well, mostly nothing.
Adam cleaned the make-up off his face and got ready for bed. It was late and he’d been drinking, but he couldn’t fall asleep. Finally Adam picked up his phone and sent a message to Kris before he could talk himself out of it.
r u still mad @ me
Kris’ answer came back immediately.
Adam stared at the screen until it went dark. He was startled when the phone beeped again.
go to sleep
Adam rolled to his side and tucked the phone under his chin and went to sleep.
Adam felt a little sheepish the next morning. Partly because he’d caused a scene at the club, though unintentionally, and partly because he’d clearly worried Kris (also unintentionally) – all because he’d needed a little stress relief. Adam had wanted to roll over and go back to sleep when he remembered the incident, but he had a radio appearance and an interview scheduled (while the others got to go off and do some sightseeing), so, rather than bury his head beneath the pillow he took a shower and packed the bag he’d brought into the hotel. Adam called Mike when he was ready to leave his room and waited for him before going down to meet the others for breakfast, patting himself on the back for being a good boy.
Tommy, Isaac and Brian were already at their table. Adam filled a plate with fruit, and a small bowl with yogurt and granola, before joining them. A steaming cup of coffee was waiting for him when he took his seat. Adam fixed it the way he liked – a little cream, a little sugar – and sighed happily at the scent before he took a sip. He popped a chunk of pineapple into his mouth and chewed.
The others – well, Tommy, anyway – were suspiciously silent. “What’s up?” Adam said.
“Nothing,” Isaac said, while Tommy squirmed in his seat and tried not to look guilty.
Adam didn’t need to know them as well as he did to know that was a bald-faced lie. Before he could pursue the matter, Tommy spoke, distracting Adam from his purpose.
“Oh, here comes, Kris.”
Adam turned his head to look. The first thing he noticed were the dark circles which told the tale of how little sleep Kris had gotten the night before, after they’d returned to the hotel from the club. Adam felt a pang of guilt for his part in Kris’ sleeplessness. Kris was making for their table instead of the buffet, so Adam poured him a cup of coffee from the carafe. Kris slid into the chair next to Adam’s and wrapped his hands around the cup like it was a lifeline. He took a sip of it black, which made Adam wince.
“Did you get any sleep?” Adam asked softly.
“Some,” Kris said into his coffee cup.
“You should get something to eat.”
Kris looked at Adam over the rim of the cup. “Okay, Mom.”
“If you can be worried about me, I can be worried about you,” Adam said in lieu of an apology. He ignored Kris’ raised eyebrow that reminded Adam that Kris was being paid to worry about him.
Adam started to push his chair back. “I’ll fix your plate. What do you want, scrambled eggs and bacon?”
Kris grabbed Adam’s wrist to stop him. “I can fix my own plate.”
“And yet, you’re not.”
Kris sighed and shook his head. “Fine.”
Adam watched in satisfaction as Kris went over to the buffet and began filling his plate. When he turned back Isaac and Tommy were watching Kris with varying degrees of anticipation. “What is going on with you two?”
Their faces went strangely blank. “Nothing.”
Adam looked to Brian for answers; he just shrugged his ignorance. Adam dropped it when Kris returned with a full plate and dug in. However, Tommy and Isaac continued to act strange. Even Kris, who’d only known them for a short time, noticed their odd behavior.
“You two take something last night?” Kris asked.
Tommy shook his head. “Just high on life.”
Kris finished the last bite of toast and pushed his plate back. Adam hated him a little bit in that moment, that he could eat so heartily and remain slim.
“Okay, spill,” Kris said when he’d finished licking butter and jelly off his fingers.
(Adam had to clench his hands into fists to keep from reaching out and grabbing Kris’ hand so he could lick it off his fingers instead. Since he did not have a thing for Kris, he must just be craving butter. Or jelly. Or both. Maybe his body was telling him that he needed some carbs?)
“It’s nothing, really,” Tommy said. “Just . . . .”
“You seem like a mellow guy,” Isaac observed.
“Usually,” Kris agreed warily, probably wondering, as Adam was, where this was going.
“I mean, you freaked out a little bit last night,” Tommy said.
“But those were special circumstances,” Isaac concluded. “Perfectly understandable.”
“I didn’t freak out,” Kris muttered.
“But we never saw you as the jealous type,” Tommy finished.
Tommy slid his phone across the table to Kris, and Adam could tell he’d been dying to do that all morning. Kris picked up the cell and looked at the screen. His expression went from mildly curious to what Adam would forevermore call Kris’ ‘Oh shit!’ expression. Tommy and Isaac were giggling like school girls.
“Shit,” Kris said as he stared shell-shocked at the screen.
“What is it?” Adam leaned closer to Kris so he could see the screen. Kris turned the phone towards Adam, but the overhead light created a glared. Adam took Kris’ hand and turned it another thirty degrees until he could see the screen.
“Shit,” Adam said.
It was a picture of Kris, Adam, and the guy from the club the night before. Kris and the guy (though it hadn’t been important at the time, Adam wished now that he’d gotten his name so he didn’t have to keep calling him ‘the guy’) were facing off while Adam stood to the side, lips wet and swollen from the make out session Adam had hoped would lead to more. While the photo was grainy from the lighting, it was clear that Kris and the guy were arguing over Adam. What wasn’t clear was the reason they were arguing.
The caption beneath the photo read: Jealous much? Makes you wonder what’s going on between Adam Lambert and his new guitarist, doesn’t it?
“But . . . he’s not even my type,” Adam protested.
And Kris wasn’t. Sure, if you only looked at the outside – cute Southern boy, shorter and younger than Adam – maybe he fit. Possibly. But Adam didn’t go just by looks. Okay, sure, he might initially be attracted to the physical package, but it took more than that to hold his interest. It wasn’t like he thought with his dick. Adam remembered last night. Well, not all the time. There were other things that were equally, if not more, important. The guy needed to be smart and have a good sense of humor. He had to be kind, spiritual, and it was a bonus if he knew music and was a cuddler.
Adam looked up to find everyone staring at him. “What?”
“That’s the thing that bothers you the most about this?” Kris said.
Kris didn’t wait for Adam to answer. He slid the phone back across the table to Tommy and shoved his chair back. Adam watched Kris stalk angrily across the dining room to where Mike stood unobtrusively at the door. They exchanged a few words, and then Kris was gone and Mike was heading towards their table.
Mike held out his hand and Tommy wordlessly placed the phone in his palm. Mike grunted when he saws the picture, but just handed the cell back.
“Meeting in the bus before you all head out,” Mike said. He turned away, already palming his own cell.
“Well, shit,” Adam said.
Kris hated meetings, but he especially hated meetings that had to be called because he’d dropped the ball. Kris wasn’t a perfectionist by any means – anyone who’d seen him pick dirty clothes up off the floor and wear them for the third day in a row knew that – but he didn’t usually screw up so badly. Every time he’d closed his eyes last night he’d imagined how easy it would’ve been for someone to drug Adam and slip him out of the club without anyone realizing he was missing until it was too late. Even now the thought of it made his stomach churn and he feared he might lose his breakfast. Kris worried that maybe he hadn’t been the right choice for the job.
The band straggled onto the bus – first Brian, then Tommy and Isaac, followed by Adam with Mike bringing up the rear. Mike pulled the door shut behind him and made sure it was locked. Everyone else sat around the table, but Kris didn’t feel like being hemmed in so he leaned against the wall, blocking the hallway that led to their bunks.
Mike didn’t waste time on preliminaries, but got right to it. “All’s well that ends well,” he said, “but we had a scare last night. I hope you all now realize how easy it would be for someone to separate Adam from the rest of you. It would have been just one more step for them to have slipped him something and snuck him out the back door.”
Mike looked at each of them in turn, including Kris, who felt the weight of his gaze.
“The only reason I let you go to the club without me is because you promised not to let Adam out of your sight. I know this isn’t your job, and if I have to bring in more people so we have 24/7 coverage I will.”
Adam made a sound of dissent, which was a mistake because it drew Mike’s attention.
“And you. You promised not to run off. We’re not here to make your life difficult, we’re here to keep you safe. We can’t afford for you to be part of the problem. All I ask is for you to be cautious. If you can’t do that I’ll assign two guys to you at all times; you won’t be able to take a piss without company. And trust me,” Mike ended, “no one has ever died of blue balls.”
Mike touched his ear bud and his gaze went distant for a moment before he spoke again. “Your cars are waiting for you,” he announced.
Mike turned to leave and Tommy and Isaac hurried to follow him, eager to get away from the claustrophobic space. Tommy stopped and turned back to Kris.
“Hey.” Kris raised his eyebrows.
“Are we okay?” Tommy said.
Kris frowned. “Yeah, of course we are.”
Tommy studied Kris, like he wanted to make sure, then nodded. “Do we need to hug it out, or anything?”
Kris huffed a surprised laugh at that. “No, I think we’re good.”
Tommy held his arms out as if he might go in for a hug anyway. “Are you sure?”
Kris touched Tommy’s arm. “I appreciate the gesture,” he said gravely.
“Okay.” Tommy dropped his arms, but not before patting Kris’ hand. “Let me know if you change your mind.”
Brian must have escaped while Tommy and Kris were talking because he was alone with Adam once Tommy left. Adam was on the phone and he looked even more aggravated than he had when Mike was berating them all. He disconnected the cell and set it on the table with a care that told Kris he’d much rather slam it down.
“Judy,” Adam said, though Kris hadn’t asked. “She saw the picture.”
Kris nodded, but didn’t say anything. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know how they’d decided to spin it. Other than telling the truth, which they couldn’t do (at least, not about Kris), there was only one other explanation, and it would either make Kris look like a shrew, or make Adam appear to be a cheater. Given Adam’s inability to keep it in his pants, it was just as well they hadn’t gone with the boyfriend cover.
Kris took a deep breath and wiped his hands over his face. That wasn’t fair. He was taking his dissatisfaction with the situation, and with his own performance, out on the wrong person.
“Hey,” Adam said. His voice came from right in front of Kris. He sounded worried, and his hands were gentle when he pulled Kris’ own hands away from his face. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Kris said. If he said it enough, maybe he’d start to believe it.
“Are you still mad at me?”
Kris shook his head. “No. Well, maybe a little bit.” He held his thumb and index finger close together. “But mostly I’m mad at myself. I should never have let you out of my sight.”
“It’s not your fault,” Adam said.
“It is,” Kris said firmly. “If I’d been there you never would’ve been able to pull that stupid stunt.”
There was a moment of silence as they both digested that, and then Adam huffed a humorless laugh.
“Are you sure you’re not mad at me?”
Kris pulled his hands out of Adam’s loose grip and shoved him. “Do you have any idea what might have happened to you? Because I’ve seen case files; I could show you pictures! And I spent last night imagining every single scenario happening to you, as well as some that probably have never even happened.”
Kris wound down and there was silence again.
“I’m sorry,” Adam said. “I won’t do it again.”
Kris sighed. “Yes, you will,” he said, resigned.
“I’ll be more careful.”
Kris nodded. It was all he could ask of him.
“I think you really do need a hug,” Adam said.
The photograph was brought up in every single interview for the next couple of weeks. Adam decided to take a light approach to it and had a different answer each time. His favorites were the ones that got a reaction from Kris.
“Kris was defending my honor,” Adam told the first interviewer. “He apparently thinks I’m his virginal, and much better looking, younger sister.”
That one earned him an eye roll.
He’d told another interviewer that Kris wasn’t his type, to which one of his so-called (traitorous) fans muttered (loud enough to be heard by everyone in the room during a moment of otherwise complete silence), “You do remember Brad, don’t you?”
Kris had laughed so hard he’d nearly fallen off his stool. Adam had very nearly given him a helpful push. Pictures comparing Kris and Brad had hit the internet that very afternoon.
Another time Adam had sighed and said in a much put-upon tone, “Yes, Kris has a thing for me. It’s kind of embarrassing, really.”
Kris had sputtered something about Adam’s ego, but it was the blush Adam remembered most fondly.
The tour moved on and there were no other ‘scares’ (as Mike put it) or ‘incidents’ (as Kris called it). Adam was more careful, just as he’d promised Kris. Partly because he didn’t ever want to think about Kris imagining horrible things happening to Adam because of his own foolishness, and partly because, while Kris hadn’t made good on his threat to show those photos to Adam, he really didn’t want to be drugged, or kidnapped, or hurt, even if he would rather pretend that the whole stalker thing wasn’t really happening.
Adam’s days were pretty normal – for definitions of normal that included the life of a musician on the road. Sleeping on the bus with a few hotel nights scattered here and there. Sound check, radio appearances, meet and greets. The only indication that things were not as they seemed were Mike’s presence at Adam’s back and Kris’ watchfulness.
Adam presumed he was still receiving letters and gifts from the stalker, but his management, as per their agreement before he left on tour, was keeping it from him so he didn’t worry. Every once in a while Adam found himself wondering. He thought about asking Kris, but wasn’t sure he really wanted to know the answer. Adam figured that Kris rarely leaving his side and the edge his smile sometimes took, were answer enough.
The only problem that Adam had was with sleeping. He’d never had problems sleeping on the bus before, and hadn’t had them when the tour first started – it didn’t hurt that he had a room all to himself and didn’t have to sleep on a tiny bunk. But as time went on, Adam found himself less and less comfortable in what was supposed to be his happy place even though he slept like a baby on hotel nights.
Adam didn’t understand it because he’d made his room as restorative as possible – a calm and relaxing oasis in the storm of touring. Yet he found himself making excuses not to be in there. He’d already stayed up late watching DVDs and fallen asleep in the lounge area more times than he could count.
I probably just need to get laid, Adam concluded one day when he was fretting about it. He looked up to see everyone staring at him. “What?”
“Why do you need to get laid?” Tommy said. “Besides the obvious reasons, of course.”
He hadn’t meant to say that out loud, but since he had . . . . “Because I can’t sleep,” Adam said.
“You overslept this morning,” Isaac reminded him. “Or is that yesterday morning now?”
“That’s because we were in a hotel. I can’t sleep on the bus.”
“You fall asleep in the lounge all the time,” Brian said.
“Yeah,” Adam said. “It’s fine. Like I said, I probably just need to get laid.”
They dropped it, but when Adam looked up Kris was still staring at him, and Adam could practically see the gears turning. Adam gave Kris a smile that he hoped covered up the uneasiness he felt. Kris didn’t appear convinced, but he didn’t say anything.
Later, when the others had gone to bed and Kris was kicking Tommy’s surly ass at Yahtzee, Adam stretched out on the bench seat and rested his head on Kris’ lap. Between gloating, shaking dice, and marking down his throws, Kris dropped his hand to Adam’s head and stroked his fingers through Adam’s hair. Adam wasn’t even sure Kris knew he was doing it.
“You know,” Adam said contemplatively. “If you had sex with me I’d probably be able to sleep better.”
Kris snorted. “And if you wouldn’t just as happily bed the next person to walk through that door, you might stand a better chance.”
That almost sounded like . . . . “Really?”
“Maybe you should,” Tommy said. “Put us all out of our misery.”
“You’re just mad because you’re losing,” Kris said equably.
“Why couldn’t we play Monopoly?” Tommy whined.
“You can’t play Monopoly with only two people. And if Adam needs a little stress relief he can use his hand just like the rest of us do.”
The image of Kris pleasuring himself popped into Adam’s brain – totally unwanted, of course – and refused to leave. “Really?” he said again, hoping he didn’t sound as desperate as he felt.
Kris’ answer was to tug on Adam’s hair, and then soothe the offended spot with his fingers.
Two nights later Adam was sitting in the lounge watching a DVD and trying to pretend it wasn’t because he didn’t want to go back to his private room. He’d fallen asleep after the show, exhausted from too little sleep the past couple of nights, but had woken up after only a couple hours and not been able to get back to sleep. Adam’s eyes were closing and it took him a couple of seconds to realize that Kris had appeared.
Kris had obviously just woken up and rolled out of his bunk. His sleep pants rode low on his hips and his t-shirt was rucked up and twisted around so it bared his belly. Adam was not too tired to be able to appreciate the view. Kris looked confused, his forehead all scrunched up with frown lines and his hair all messy on top of his head.
“What are you doing up?” Kris shook his head. “Never mind.”
Kris turned and disappeared back into his bunk, leaving Adam to wondered if he’d even been there at all or been a figment of his overtired imagination, and then he reappeared. He still looked like someone who’d been woken from a deep sleep (for which Adam hated him just a little bit), but somehow the glasses now perched on his nose gave him the air of someone that meant business. (Adam blamed his state of frustrated exhaustion – and sexual frustration – for the fact that he found mussed-up Kris in glasses both adorable and sexy.)
“This is ridiculous, Adam,” Kris said, putting his hands on his hips in a (failed) attempt to look serious. “You need to sleep.”
Even as tired as he was, Adam wanted to smile at the picture Kris made, with the juxtaposition of scowl and hair standing on end. Instead he just said, “I know.”
“Well, come on,” Kris said.
Adam stood up before he even knew, “Where are we going?”
“We’re going to figure this out.”
Kris walked into Adam’s bedroom. He’d only been in there once before, when he and Mike had been given a tour of the bus. It felt strange, being in there now with Adam, even though Adam wasn’t really in there. Kris turned back to where Adam was hanging back just outside the open doorway.
“Come on, I can’t do this by myself,” Kris said gently.
Adam took a cautious step into the room.
“Tell me what it feels like when you’re in here,” Kris said as he shook off the last vestiges of sleep and began his search.
“It feels . . . wrong,” Adam said. “Which is weird, because I decorated this room! Well, I helped. I picked out the colors and, and I even had it feng shuied!”
Kris paused in running his hands around the doorframe and raised an eyebrow at Adam.
“You had this tiny space feng shuied?”
“Yes,” Adam said decisively. “What are you doing?”
Kris had finished with the doorframe and was unscrewing the light fixture.
“Looking,” Kris said distractedly.
“Looking for what?”
“I have no idea,” Kris said as he studied the inside of the light fixture and then put it back together. “Something that makes it feel wrong in here.” He picked up photographs and felt around the frames, took pictures off the wall and did the same.
“Bugs, maybe,” Kris went on.
Adam sat heavily on the bed. “Cameras?”
Kris pulled out drawers and felt inside, checked beneath the bottoms, and even peered inside the bureau.
“I get headaches, sometimes,” Adam said slowly as he watched Kris. “And sometimes the hair stands up on the back of my neck, and I feel . . . like I’m not alone.”
Kris hated how Adam’s voice sounded so small. “We’re going to figure it out,” Kris assured him, then took a deep breath and broached the subject he’d been loathe to bring up. “Could it be . . . maybe you should talk to someone?”
“About what?” Adam said.
Kris sat on the bed beside Adam. “About your stalker, Adam. You’ve been holding a lot inside, pretending nothing’s wrong, maybe it’s just building up and the stress is too much.”
“It’s not the stress,” Adam said adamantly. “I’ve handled stress before. Look, I know I’ve been in denial about this, but I honestly don’t think about it all the time. There are times I even forget you’re not here just because you want to be.”
Kris bumped his shoulder into Adam’s arm. “Trust me, I’m here because I wanna be.”
Before he could admit to more than that, Kris got back to work and looked around for someplace he hadn’t searched yet. He slid off the bed to his knees (ignoring Adam’s raised eyebrows) (and his own reaction to them), and felt all around the base of the bed. Since he was down there he checked the baseboards, as well. Nothing.
Kris stayed on his knees and looked around the room from that angle. There had to be something he’d missed. Maybe he could have Mike search the room tomorrow. Kris’ gaze fell on the dream-catcher hanging at the head of Adam’s bed.
“Where did you get that?” Kris asked, tilting his head to indicate the dream-catcher. He didn’t remember it from his tour of the bus, so Adam must have gotten it since then, maybe at one of the little gift shops they’d visited while on tour.
Adam frowned at the dream catcher. “LA, I think,” he said. “After our first show.”
Skin humming, Kris rose to his feet. “Who gave it to you?”
“I don’t know,” Adam admitted. “One of my fans.”
“Did you show it to Mike?”
Kris hadn’t seen it, but that didn’t mean Mike hadn’t okayed it.
“No,” Adam said, forehead creased as he tried to recall that night. “I . . . we were in a rush, the buses were ready to leave, someone handed it to me and I . . . it seemed harmless.”
Kris stepped up onto the bed and took the dream-catcher off its hook. He studied it, first with his eyes, and then with his fingers. At first there was nothing, and then he felt it, something hidden within the multi-colored barbs of one of the feathers. It was tiny, and even knowing it was there he could barely make it out with his eyes.
“What?” Adam said, trying to play down his excitement.
“I may have found something,” Kris said.
“What is it?”
“I can’t tell,” Kris said. “We’ll show it to Mike in the morning.”
“Show it to me now,” Mike said quietly.
Still, it was enough to startle Kris. He would have fallen off the bed if Adam hadn’t caught his arm. Kris shot Mike a glare as he stepped off the bed and handed the dream-catcher to him.
“On the feather there,” Kris said, pointing out the whatever-it-was he’d found.
Mike peered closely at it, then said, “I need more light.”
Mike left Adam’s room and Kris and Adam followed him. He stopped at the bunk they’d been given for storage purposes and collected something, then continued on to the kitchen. Mike turned on the brighter light over the table and examined the feather with his bare eye, and then through the magnifying glass he’d gotten out. He handed both to Kris, who looked at the object, then handed them off to Adam, who was practically bouncing with the need to see, for a look.
“What is it?” Kris asked Mike.
“No idea,” Mike said. “I’ll send it back to the LAPD lab tomorrow. Their techs can take a look at it, and we should know in a day or two what it is.”
“Is it a bug?” Adam said worriedly.
Mike shrugged. “I’ve never seen one this small, but I can’t rule it out. In the meantime, we can’t do anything right now, so we should get some sleep.” He looked at Adam. “You bring anything else on the bus I should know about?”
It had been one of the first rules Mike had instated. Everything they were given by a fan went through Mike. It got scanned and checked over to make sure it was safe before being allowed on the bus, though most of the items given to Adam and the band by fans were, of necessity, kept in a storage trunk because there wasn’t enough room for them on the bus.
Adam shook his head and gave Mike a sheepish smile. “No, sorry, I wasn’t thinking . . . .”
Mike nodded, apparently satisfied with Adam’s answer (as well as with the fact that he’d think in the future), and then headed back to his bunk, taking the dream-catcher with him.
“Come on,” Kris told Adam. “You need to get some sleep.”
Kris turned out the light and headed back to the bunks. Adam followed him.
“I still don’t think I’ll be able to sleep in there,” Adam said.
“That’s fine, but you need more rest than you’ll get sleeping in the lounge. Take one of the unused bunks.” He’d been about to say empty, but none of them were empty anymore. Any bunk that wasn’t being used to sleep in had become storage for extra games, clothes, or guitars. Even Kris was guilty of it.
Adam nodded his head in agreement, but he followed Kris right up to his bunk. Kris looked at Adam. Adam looked back at Kris.
“This is my bunk.”
“It won’t be unused when I’m in it.”
“I know that, too.”
“Adam . . . .”
Before Kris could finish his thought Adam gave him a little push. Kris crawled into his bunk, still complaining. Adam ignored him completely and climbed in behind him. The space had always seemed small, even to Kris – he had no idea how they were both going to fit. He imagined them wedged in like sardines and unable to move, needing to be pried out come morning. Yet somehow Adam managed to make them fit – he manhandled Kris around until they were pressed together with Adam at Kris’ back. And more surprisingly, they fit comfortably.
Kris pulled up the blanket, then took off his glasses and found a safe place for them. “Adam,” he tried one more time.
There was no answer. Adam’s even breathing told Kris that he was already asleep.
They overslept the next morning. Brian woke them up with a spritz of water from the spray bottle Kris used on his hair and called it done. As shocking an awakening as it was, Adam was willing to bet it was much nicer than what Isaac or Tommy would have done. Still, when Adam sat up quickly he bumped his head on the bunk above them. It wasn’t until he heard Kris’ mumbled, “Time ‘s it?” that Adam realized he wasn’t in his own spacious bed.
For a blindingly paralyzing moment Adam couldn’t remember how he’d ended up in Kris’ bunk last night and in his mad scramble to get out of the bunk he got tangled in the blanket and ended upon his ass in the narrow hallway. Brian looked down at him with amusement dancing in his eyes. Kris peered out of the bunk and stared at Adam with hazy concern.
Adam had the urge to pull Kris out by his wrinkled t-shirt and kiss him silly. Instead he scrambled to his feet. “How much time do I have?” he asked Brian.
“Twenty minutes,” Brian said without a trace of sympathy.
“Shit,” Adam swore as he hurried to the bathroom. First things first – piss and wash hands, brush teeth and wash face, eyeliner, see what can be done with hair, if nothing, choose hat. Luckily he’d already chosen his clothes for that afternoon’s interview or he’d have lost precious time there.
Adam hurried out to the kitchen in his stocking feet, carrying his boots. “Time?”
Brian checked his watch. “Three minutes, twenty-five seconds remaining. You’re getting good at this.”
Adam dropped onto the bench seat to pull on his boots.
“Doesn’t count,” Kris said around a mouthful of Cap’n Crunch, and then helpfully pointed out, “He doesn’t have his boots on yet.”
“Shut up, you,” Adam said absently. “And how can you eat that stuff?”
Kris shoveled a heaping spoonful into his mouth and chewed before answering with his mouth full. “How can you not?”
“So, how come you were sleeping with Kris last night?” Isaac said, obviously the loser in the whispered conversation he and Tommy had just held.
Kris choked on his cereal.
“I didn’t sleep with Kris,” Adam said, refusing to acknowledge the twinge of want.
“Really?” Tommy said skeptically. “Because I think I saw you fall out, very ungracefully, by the way, of Kris’ bunk.”
“Yeah, and I recorded it,” Isaac said. He held up his cell and Adam watched in mortification as he tumbled out of Kris’ bunk at Brian’s feet and Kris poked his head out like a sleepy hedgehog to peer down at him.
Kris chuckled, and didn’t even bother to try to cut it off when Adam glared at him. “What? I was still half asleep when it happened, so this is the first time I’ve seen it.”
“And the last,” Adam said, making an unsuccessful grab for the phone.
“So, seriously,” Tommy said, well, seriously.
Adam sighed. “I can’t sleep in there. It just feels wrong. Like someone co-opted my happy place.” He wasn’t sure whether it would still feel wrong with the dream catcher gone, but he was afraid to try only find out that it did.
“So make it feel right again,” Kris said distractedly.
When Adam looked at him, Kris was chasing the last square of Cap’n Crunch around the bowl with his spoon, trying to capture and annihilate it.
“What do you mean?” Adam asked.
Kris looked up, looked surprised to see everyone staring at him. He shrugged. “Uh, it was your happy place once, make it your happy place again?”
“Reclaim it,” Tommy said, nodding.
“Exactly,” Kris said, pointing his spoon at Tommy and dripping milk. He gave up on the crafty cereal and set the bowl on the table. “I don’t know, burn incense, chant ‘be gone, ye evil spirits!’ or something.”
“That’s . . . actually, that’s a good idea,” Adam said. And it was. He needed to be proactive, not let his stalker take anything else away from him – especially his really awesome bedroom, which had been intended to be his sanctuary. And it would be again.
Mike poked his head in the bus door. “Car’s here. You ready?”
“Yes,” Adam said decisively.
Mike nodded, then turned to Kris. “You’ll mail the package.”
“Yep, as soon as I get dressed.”
“Don’t go alone. Don’t anyone go anywhere alone.”
“I’ll go with him,” Tommy offered.
With another nod Mike was gone.
“What?” Kris said when he finally realized that Adam was staring at him.
“That was such a good idea I could kiss you.”
Kris’ eyes went wide. “Uhm . . . .“
Adam waited a second, but Kris didn’t say anything else, so Adam leaned in and kissed him. He pulled back until he could see Kris’ wide eyes again. “You didn’t say no.”
Adam skipped back away from Kris and down the steps, feeling lighter than he had in weeks.
“No!” Kris belatedly called out behind him.
“Now try saying it like you mean it,” Tommy drawled.
“Shut up,” Kris muttered.
Adam smiled and slipped on his shades as he walked over to where Mike and the car waited for him.
“You look happy,” Mike said.
“I slept really well last night,” Adam admitted.
If Mike knew he’d shared Kris’ bunk, or cared, he didn’t say anything.
When Adam got back to the bus Kris and Isaac were sitting outside on folding chairs, a card table between them. After a few moments of eavesdropping it appeared that Kris was teaching Isaac how to play Old Maid. There was an UNO box on the table, so Adam figured that game was next.
“Hi,” Kris said when he spotted him.
“Hey,” Adam said. Even with the sun shining brightly Adam thought he saw a flush creep up Kris’ neck.
“Get rid of the jacket and join us,” Isaac said as he played a card. “And bring out the lemonade when you come back.”
“We have lemonade?”
“Kris brought back the ice and stuff and made it.”
Kris ducked his head and studied his hand intently. Adam decided not to push it, though he wasn’t even sure what he wasn’t pushing, and climbed into the bus. He dropped his leather jacket on the bed and exchanged boots for flip flops. When he turned to leave the room he saw the fat pillar candle sitting on his dresser.
Adam slipped the note (written in Kris’ messy scrawl) out from under the base of the candle, and raised the candle to his nose for a sniff as he read it. She said it would replace negative energy with positive. Adam did not get choked up over the gesture.
After sound check Adam lit the candle and went in search of Kris. “Teach me how to play this,” he said, holding up the deck.
Kris’ eyebrows went up. “Old Maid?”
“You strike me as more of a strip poker kind of guy,” Kris said.
The way his eyes went comically wide told Adam that the words had escaped before his brain could censor them.
Adam smirked. “Tit for tat. You teach me Old Maid, I’ll teach you strip poker.”
Kris snorted. “I don’t need you to teach me how to play strip poker,” he said, and then looked like he wanted to bite his tongue.
Adam laughed. Genuinely laughed. And it felt really good. “Even better,” he teased. “Come on.”
Adam headed to his bedroom at the back of the bus and Kris obediently followed him. Adam made himself comfortable on the bed, sitting cross-legged with a bunch of pillows at his back.
“Close the door and sit.” Adam indicated a spot on the bed and shook the deck of cards out of the box.
“What are we doing?” Kris said as he closed the door. He glanced at the lit candle, but didn’t mention it.
“We are starting the process of reclaiming my happy place,” Adam said brightly.
Kris smiled. “By playing Old Maid?”
“And if I’m lucky, strip poker.”
Kris lost his balance as he climbed onto the bed, but recovered nicely. He situated himself across from Adam, his back against the wall. Kris took the deck from Adam and shuffled, unable to look Adam in the face.
Adam poked Kris in the leg with his bare toes. “I was just kidding.” Sort of.
“I know,” Kris said.
Adam was not going to dwell on the fact that Kris didn’t sound as happy about that as he should have. Time to change the subject. “So, who taught you how to play Old Maid?”
“My niece,” Kris said as he dealt out the cards. “And she’s a shark, so don’t expect me to go easy on you.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Adam said, unable to keep all of the innuendo out of his voice. He couldn’t help it – Kris was never so beautiful as when he blushed. Like right now.
“What now?” Adam said, and listened to Kris’ voice as he laid out the rules.
“What’s wrong?” Kris asked around a yawn.
Mike had been on the phone when Kris rolled out of his bunk, so he’d poured a bowl of Cap’n Crunch as quietly as he could and was now eating it dry because they’d run out of milk.
“That was Cale,” Mike said. “He heard back from the lab on the dream-catcher we sent them.”
All residue of sleepiness fled. “What was it?”
“As far as they can tell, some kind of . . . subliminal transmitter. A looped message played over and over until the battery died, which wouldn’t have been for some time.”
Kris felt a chill. “What did it say?”
Mike glanced at his notes and read off, “You belong to me. Someday soon we’ll be together forever.”
“That’s not creepy at all,” Kris said.
“Yeah,” Mike agreed. “Disturbing stuff.”
“No wonder that room felt wrong,” Kris said. That nasty message had been playing in Adam’s ear for weeks.
“I’ll have to tell him when he wakes up,” Mike said.
Kris didn’t envy Mike that task. It was difficult to determine how anyone would take that sort of news, and Adam had only just started to feel comfortable in that room again.
“Tell who what?” Adam said, startling Kris out of his thoughts and sounding way more chipper than any man had a right to. Especially a man who was taking the reclaiming of his room quite seriously. The first night after the show Adam had bundled them all in there to play strip poker.
“You guys have nothing I want to see,” Isaac complained.
“I want to get Kris naked,” Adam had blithely announced. “And you’re all going to help me.”
Kris raised his hand and tried very hard to ignore the flush creeping up his neck. “Do I get a say in this?”
“No,” Adam said.
Tommy had just smirked at him when Kris looked to him for help. Kris had gotten the last laugh, though, when he’d fallen asleep (and drooled on Adam’s shoulder, he’d been informed) before he got further than having to remove one sock.
Last night it had been ‘I Never’ and Kris was still feeling the effects. The low level throb in his head made him hate Adam a little bit right then.
“You,” Mike said, answering Adam’s question. He indicated the bench across from him. “Have a seat.”
Kris slid down so Adam could sit.
“What is it?”
“We’ve heard back from the lab,” Mike said in the gentle voice Kris had heard him used with his kids.
Kris wished for chipper Adam back again because he hated the closed off haunted expression that replaced the good mood in which Adam had woken up.
“Tell me,” Adam said determinedly.
Mike told Adam what he’d told Kris, and Adam went even more pale. “Jesus, that’s . . . .”
“Really fucking disturbing?” (And Mike rarely swore.)
“Sickening,” Adam said. “Who would even *do* something like that? I mean, no wonder I got headaches and couldn’t sleep.”
Kris wished he’d realized there was something wrong before it had gotten to that point, but he’d put Adam’s insomnia down to stress. He gave Adam’s leg a reassuring pat.
“Just remember,” Kris said, “it’s gone now. Your room is all yours again.”
“I know,” Adam said. “I just, it really pisses me off, you know?”
“Yeah,” Kris said. He was glad to see Adam getting mad rather than falling into a funk.
“And we’re going to give the bus a complete sweep,” Mike said. “Cale found a security firm at our next stop; we’re going to rent some equipment and the men to run it, and go over this bus with a fine tooth comb. I don’t think we’ll find anything, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
With the added benefit of putting Adam’s mind at ease, Kris thought.
“Just remember, it could’ve been worse,” Kris said.
Adam looked at him with a look Kris could only describe as a cross between are you fucking nuts and what the fuck. “How could it possibly have been worse?”
“It could’ve been a camera.”
Kris watched as Adam reflected on that, on his stalker having footage of him relaxing, changing his clothes . . . doing other things. He pushed his bowl of dry cereal over to Adam. Kris didn’t care what anybody said, Cap’n Crunch was comfort food. Adam was so distracted by his disturbing thoughts that he reached into the bowl and transferred a couple of the delicious crunchy squares into his mouth and chewed.
“We need to have a meeting,” Mike said. “Bring everyone up to speed.”
Kris and Adam both groaned, then looked at each other and giggled. Mike, used to dealing with teenagers, just shook his head. Adam looked at the squares of Cap’n Crunch in his fingers as if seeing them for the first time. With a look of distaste he dropped them back into the bowl.
A couple days later they had three days off in a row. Adam rented a house on the beach and took the entire band on a short vacation to rejuvenate for the next leg of the tour. Isaac begged off and instead flew home to spend some time with his family. (“And put my newly honed Go Fish skills to the test,” he’d said. “And hone some other skills,” Tommy had retorted.) Not that Tommy had room to talk. With Adam’s okay he invited Christy out and honed some skills of his own. Kris knew this because his room was right next to Tommy’s.
They had a private beach and the first day was spent lying in the sun reading and sleeping. The second day Adam rented Jet Skis and a boat for water skiing. Kris was given a new task – sunscreen applier. Kris didn’t know whether it was because of his pale skin or because he liked to yank Kris’ chain, but Adam took the application (and frequent *re*application) of sunscreen very seriously.
They mostly ate in so they didn’t have to deal with crowds. Adam made omelets for breakfast, and Kris dueled with Brian (rock, paper, scissors) over who got to man the grill. Tommy made a mean potato salad, and Christy (who swore she couldn’t boil water without burning it) bought the wine. At night they built a small fire in the pit and roasted marshmallows while Kris played his guitar.
Kris tried to remind himself that he was not on vacation, that he was still on the clock, Adam’s safety his first priority. (And Mike’s, who’s only concession to the heat had been to wear jeans and a short-sleeved pullover instead of a suit and trading the shoulder holster he normally wore under his jacket for a slightly less conspicuous hip holster.) Kris found it especially difficult to remember when Adam popped a perfectly toasted marshmallow into Kris’ mouth and then licked the sticky residue off his own fingers.
The next morning, their last day of R&R at the beach house, Kris left Adam in Mike’s care and walked out onto the sand. He stood looking out over the water, thinking. Adam stepped up behind Kris, not touching, but close enough for Kris to feel the theat off his body. Kris knew it was Adam without even looking, and the hairs rose along his arms.
“Would it be so bad?” Adam broke the silence. He drew his finger across Kris’ bare shoulder. “Liking me?”
Kris shivered at the light touch. “Liking you isn’t the problem,” he admitted. “I do like you. But I can’t protect you if I’m too busy watching you instead of watching for other people watching you.”
There was a moment of silence, then, “I almost understood that.”
Kris huffed a laugh and turned around to face Adam.
“You’re not going to be my bodyguard forever, you know.”
“I do know that.”
Neither of them voiced the possibility that they might never catch this guy. As far as Kris was concerned, that wasn’t acceptable.
“When this is over I’m going to ask you out on a date. And you’re going to say yes.”
Kris raised his eyebrows. “Am I?”
“Yes,” Adam said smugly. “Because you like me.”
Adam bent his head and dropped a kiss on Kris’ lips. It was nearly chaste, but Kris couldn’t hold back the soft moan. Adam gave a hungry growl as he gathered Kris up in his arms and deepened the kiss. Adam slipped his tongue into Kris’ eager mouth and Kris went up on his toes to return the kiss. When Adam (and it had to be Adam, because Kris couldn’t do it no matter what he’d said) broke the kiss they were both breathing hard.
Adam brushed the pad of his thumb across Kris’ lower lip. Kris just kept himself from darting out his tongue and sweeping it over Adam’s skin.
“I’ll let you choose the place,” Adam said magnanimously before releasing Kris and walking away.
“Jerk,” Kris muttered without any heat before turning back to face the water in order to hide the erection he now sported. He reached up and touched his lips, which still tingled from Adam’s kiss, and pretended he was merely enjoying the view instead of catching his breath.
They’d barely made it back onto the bus that evening for the drive to their next show before photos of the kiss on the beach hit the internet. Tommy returned from having dropped Christy off at the airport with a huge grin on his face.
“You look awfully happy for someone who just said goodbye to his girlfriend,” Kris observed from his spot in the corner of the bench seat in the kitchen.
“If it’s because you got a quickie in the limo we don’t want to hear about it,” Adam said.
“Already heard enough,” Kris muttered.
“Don’t hate, baby,” Tommy told Kris as he slid onto Adam’s lap and gave him a loud smacking kiss.
Adam laughed and shoved Tommy off.
“Besides,” Tommy said as he righted himself, “if the two of you aren’t getting laid, you only have yourselves to blame.”
“Okay, I’ll bite,” Brian said. “What have you got?”
Tommy handed over his phone to Brian.
“Hmm,” Brian said.
Adam rolled his eyes. “You guys should know better than to . . . .” Brian reached across Tommy to hand the phone to Adam. “Hmm.”
Kris grabbed the phone out of Adam’s hand. “What are you guys . . . . Oh.” Kris stared at the photo. Despite his embarrassment at having the photo plastered all over the internet he couldn’t help noticing how he pushed up into the kiss as if he couldn’t get enough of Adam’s mouth. “Wow, that’s . . . .”
“Hot?” Adam suggested.
“Embarrassing,” Kris said without thinking. “I hope my Mama doesn’t see this before I . . . .”
“Wouldn’t want her to know you got caught kissing another boy?” Adam said, all teasing gone from his voice.
“No, that . . . .”
Adam got up and stalked away.
“. . . wasn’t what I meant.”
The slamming of Adam’s bedroom door (and it took some effort to properly slam a sliding door), was the only reply Kris got. On the plus side, at least Adam was feeling comfortable in his room again. Kris looked away and noticed Tommy and Brian staring at him.
“You hurt his feelings,” Tommy said.
“I . . . he didn’t even . . . .” Kris sighed. He pushed himself off the bench and plodded down to Adam’s room. He knocked on the door, but didn’t wait for Adam to answer before easing it open. Kris leaned against the doorframe and watched Adam, who sat on the bed staring at the rings on his fingers as if they were the most fascinating thing ever.
“No matter who I was kissing, my mama would expect to know about it before photos of said kissing were posted to the internet,” Kris said.
Kris could tell that Adam was listening even though he pretended not to be. He shifted on his feet, not knowing what to do next. He’d never been that good at talking. “Do you want me to leave?”
Adam’s hands moved towards Kris of their own volition before Adam jerked them back, but he didn’t speak.
“Why do you have to be such a drama queen?” Kris said. Adam’s head shot up and he glowered at Kris. “Just tell me you want me to stay.”
“Maybe I don’t want you to stay,” Adam said without much conviction.
“You do,” Kris said with more decisiveness than he felt.
“Maybe a little,” Adam admitted.
It was enough for Kris. He went over and sat on the bed beside Adam. He bumped his shoulder into Adam’s arm. Adam bumped him back with a little more force. Kris bumped Adam again. Adam bumped Kris hard enough to make him lose his balance and go tumbling off the end of the bed. Adam grabbed for him, but it was too late. Kris’ butt hit the floor hard.
“Oh my god, Kris!” Adam peered down at Kris over the edge of the mattress. “Are you okay?”
“Ouch.” Kris lifted up and rubbed his butt.
“Want me to kiss it better?” Adam asked.
“No,” Kris said. He was glad that Adam wasn’t upset anymore, but that had really hurt. Besides, “Tommy’s probably out there with his cell phone.”
They heard a loud sigh from outside the open door. Tommy moved into view. “How’d you know I was out there?”
“I didn’t!” Kris squealed.
“Oh. Darn it.”
“I can’t believe you!”
Adam laughed so hard he fell off the bed and landed beside Kris with a satisfying thump. “Ow.”
When Kris showed Mike the photograph he just sighed and said, “Don’t the two of you know anything about privacy? We should’ve just put you under as his boy toy. Er, boyfriend.”
Kris tried not to think about the boy toy comment. “We’re not . . . I told Adam we couldn’t . . . . There’s nothing going on between us.”
Mike gave Kris a skeptical raise of his eyebrows. “Look, Kris, I trust you to do your job. I know that Adam’s safety is the most important thing to you. But if you really think there’s nothing going on between the two of you, you’re only fooling yourself.”
A couple days later Mike found Kris at the venue, waiting to go on for sound check, and pulled him aside. “We got another package. This time it was dropped off at the hotel.”
Kris’ blood ran cold. Not only was Adam’s stalker following the tour, and currently in the same city they were in, he knew at which hotel they were staying.
“There’s more,” Mike said. “I’ve already sent the envelope to the lab for testing, but I took a picture of the contents.”
So far the stalker had been careful, not leaving behind DNA or fingerprints that could be used to identify him, but there was always the chance that he might mess up. Kris took the cell phone Mike held out. He swallowed hard when he saw the photo of him and Adam kissing with Kris’ face scratched out so viciously that the paper had ripped.
“Do we have to tell Adam about this?” Kris asked as he handed the phone back to Mike.
“Tell me about what?” Adam said from right behind Kris.
Kris’ heart leapt as if trying to escape his chest. He glared at Mike for not warning him, then turned to Adam, hand clutching his chest. “Jeeze, Adam! I’m going to buy you a freaking bell.”
Adam glanced at Kris as if his impending heart attack was of piddling concern, but slid his hand across Kris’ lower back as he stepped up beside them.
“Tell me what?” Adam repeated.
“We got another package,” Mike told him.
“You mean I got another package,” Adam said, his voice too even. “What’s special about this one?”
With Adam’s consent they’d been keeping him in the dark about the number of letters and packages they received, as well as their contents. He had a tour to worry about, and didn’t need or want to be distracted by thoughts of his stalker every day, especially when there was little he could do about it besides live his life and just be more cautious.
“It was delivered to the hotel,” Mike said.
“He’s here,” Adam said, and this time Kris reached for him.
Mike nodded. “And he wanted us to know it.”
“I think he wanted to make sure you saw it.”
“Should I?” Adam asked. “See it?”
“I’ve already sent it to the lab,” Mike said. Kris hoped he’d stop there, but he continued. “But I took a picture of the message. If you’re sure.”
Adam held out his hand and Mike handed his phone over. Adam’s hand tightened on Kris’ back when he saw the photo. “Oh my god, Kris.”
“It’s fine,” Kris said.
Adam looked at Kris, his expression clearly saying that it was anything but fine. Before he could voice his concern, though, Mike spoke again.
“This is actually a good thing,” Mike said.
Adam gritted his teeth. “How is Kris having a target painted on his back a good thing?”
“Two things,” Mike said, holding up two fingers of one hand while he eased his phone out of Adam’s death grip with the other.
“First of all, with his attention focused on Kris, he’s not focused on you.”
Adam opened his mouth to say something (presumably scathing) about that, but Mike silenced him with what Kris figured had to be his ‘I’m serious now, this is your father speaking’ look. It was pretty effective. Even Kris didn’t want to talk now, and he’d only been going to agree with Mike.
“I know you care about Kris,” Mike went on, ignoring Adam’s sudden flush. “But the fact of the matter is, we’re both here to protect you. Kris can take care of himself, and he knows what to look for. This guy doesn’t have any idea who he’s dealing with.”
“Ninja,” Kris whispered.
Adam nodded and tried to smile, but Kris could tell that he didn’t like hearing what Mike had just told him. “What else?”
“Thinking that you and Kris are involved has royally pissed him off. And that is a very good thing because he’ll make mistakes, and if he makes mistakes we can catch him. In fact, he’s already made one.”
Mike waited a beat to make sure he had their attention. “He dropped the envelope off without speaking to anyone, so we couldn’t get a description, but the hotel has security cameras. They’ve already sent over the footage from this morning and Cale and the rest of our team are going over it as we speak.”
“That’s fantastic!” Kris said. If they could get a picture of the stalker they could catch him.
Of course Adam told the rest of the band about the photo as soon as they got back to the bus after sound check. His concern hadn’t died down despite the positive spin Mike had tried to put on it.
“I can’t believe you’re all . . . .” Adam waved his hands around. “. . . about this! Just so you know, I’m not letting you out of my sight,” he told Kris determinedly.
“Not even when I have to take a piss?” Kris said, trying to lighten the mood.
“Not even when you eat bar-b-que and beans,” Adam retorted.
A moment of silence greeted that statement.
“Wow!” Tommy said.
“Must be love,” Isaac agreed.
Kris and Adam didn’t say anything. Kris couldn’t help sneaking a glance at Adam, who was sneaking a glance back. It wasn’t love, Kris told himself. It sounded weak even inside his own head.
In his desire to keep Kris safe, Adam found himself torn. On the one hand, he wanted to make it absolutely clear that there was nothing going on between him and Kris so his stalker would shift his attention back to Adam and away from Kris. On the other hand, he couldn’t bear to let Kris out of his sight so he could personally ensure that Kris remained safe. In the end, circumstances made the decision for him – since Kris was actually (technically) his bodyguard Adam couldn’t exactly shake him off. Besides, Tommy had shown him fan photos he’d found on the internet in various concert posts, as well as in posts that examined in minute detail the supposed relationship between Kris and Adam.
“Kradam,” Adam snorted softly to himself.
Kris looked up from tuning his guitar. “What’s Kradam?”
Adam had never realized that he looked at Kris that way. No one would believe him now if he tried to deny there was anything going on. Not that there was anything going on since Kris was being such a stickler for not doing anything until the whole mess with the stalker was over. (Adam was really beginning to hate that guy for reasons that had nothing to do with the whole stalking thing. Except for how it was the whole stalking thing that was keeping him from getting laid.)
Now that Kris was in danger Adam had gone from being too busy to think about the stalker more than once in a blue moon, like when Kris or Mike insisted that he not do something that might put him at risk, to the stalker being constantly at the front of his mind. Now Adam was the one, when he was dragged away from Kris for an interview or meet and greet, who beseeched Tommy to not let Kris go anywhere alone. Kris rolled his eyes and gave Adam a look that tried to convey that he could take care of himself, but Adam wasn’t having any of it. Plus, he couldn’t get the little flush of pleasure Kris couldn’t hide out of his mind.
One day they were all walking back to the bus after having eaten lunch at a local restaurant before their show when a car backfired. Kris and Adam ended up in a heap on the grass when they each tried to throw the other out of the path of possible danger. Kris gave Adam a look that said they were going to talk about this later, since the others still didn’t know he was Adam’s undercover bodyguard. Adam was just glad that Kris was safe, and he didn’t mind at all that they’d ended up pressed so closely together.
Despite being stared down at in varying degrees of amusement by the others, Adam took the opportunity presented and stole a kiss. The only thing that got them up was Tommy taking a photo with his cell phone and threatening to upload it to Twitter. Kris chased him down and grabbled the phone. He deleted the photograph (but only after sending it to himself, Adam noted).
“I think my mother’s following him on Twitter now,” Kris muttered to Adam.
Adam would’ve laughed, but the memory was much too fresh of a certain call home that had started with Kris saying, “Hey, Mama. Remember that job I took as a guitarist in Adam Lambert’s band?” and ended with Kris handing the phone to a horrified Adam who’d had to assure Kim Allen that his intentions towards her son were pure. (They totally weren’t, but it wasn’t as if Kris was letting him act upon his impure thoughts, so it was almost true. A little white lie at most. Adam was pretty sure she didn’t want to hear him whine about how Kris wouldn’t let Adam touch him.)
It had been worth it, though, because when the call was over Adam had given Kris his best puppy dog eyes and said, “That deserves a lot of kisses.” To Adam’s astonishment, and great pleasure, Kris had agreed.
When they were out in public Adam kept the touching to a minimum, but still he couldn’t stop himself from wanting to be next to Kris, from looking at him. Photos of a mere fraction of those moments ended up on the internet, and Adam knew that if he was seeing them, so was his stalker. His concern for Kris changed the way Adam approached the stalking situation. Now he needed to know what was going on so he could make sure that Kris was safe.
Adam told Mike that he wanted to see or hear about every contact the stalker made. Adam had to brace himself to read the letters, but they were a variation on a not very original theme: he can’t make you as happy as I can and you belong with me. What scared Adam was the silence that had fallen after they’d received what turned out to be the stalker’s last message: he’s not good enough for you.
Adam grew more tense as he waited for the other shoe to drop. Every day without contact from the stalker ratcheted up his concern for Kris’ safety. That Kris seemed to have no concern for his own welfare made Adam a little bit mad. He didn’t care if it made zero amount of sense.
Adam also found himself becoming distant with his fans. He hated that his stalker was turning him into the type of person that didn’t trust anyone. Hated that he sometimes had to force the smile, couldn’t relax into the hugs, wondering, is this the one? One bad apple was spoiling the whole bushel for him. The stalker was really starting to piss him off.
On top of that he was frustrated that the ‘good news’ (as Mike had tried to spin it) of Kris being placed directly in the stalker’s sights hadn’t borne fruit. They’d seen him on the hotel security video the morning he dropped off the envelope, but he’d worn a hoodie with the hood pulled up to cover his face and kept his face turned away from the cameras. It had been a disappointing dead end.
The stalker’s knowledge of where all the cameras were located, however, gave them another clue – he was either familiar with the hotel, or he’d staked it out. They’d acquired the surveillance footage for the days prior to the day in question and Mike’s team was slogging through hours of video, looking for anyone acting suspicious. Since they had no idea who they were looking for, Adam wasn’t holding out much hope.
The DNA and fingerprint testing had also come back negative. Adam sighed.
Kris looked up from flipping through the magazine someone had left in their dressing room. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Adam said.
They’d already talked Adam’s fears to death, there was no sense rehashing it. Besides, there wasn’t anything Kris could do about it.
Kris tossed the magazine away. “You’re a terrible liar.”
Adam shrugged. He opened his mouth to say something, but snapped it shut before he did. None of this was Kris’ fault – it wouldn’t be fair to make him bear the brunt of Adam’s frustration. (Well, Adam’s sexual frustration was Kris’ fault, but as much as he hated it, he did understand Kris’ reasoning.)
“I just, I hate this,” Adam said.
Kris entwined his fingers with Adam’s. Adam squeezed Kris’ hand. He hated to admit how much better that small gesture made him feel.
Kris was frustrated. He didn’t know how much of it was his own, and how much his emotions were feeding off of Adam’s. Since receiving the photograph with Kris’ face scratched out, Adam had been worse than a new mother with her baby. (Kris being the baby in this scenario.) Adam not wanting to let Kris out of his sight should have made Kris’ job of protecting Adam easier, but his fear for Kris was almost suffocating.
Kris looked down at their joined hands, at the way Adam’s thumb gently brushed Kris’ skin. He felt warmth pool in his belly just from that small touch. They’d kept their relationship, if not completely platonic, non-sexual. Though that wasn’t completely true – Kris had jerked off with images of Adam in his head, and he knew that Adam had done the same with him because Adam had no compunction in telling him so. (He’d even called Kris once during just to tell him what he was doing. Kris hadn’t been able to hang up the phone, wanting to memorize the sounds Adam was making. He’d listened until Adam groaned as if he was in pain, and then he’d jerked himself off with the sound of Adam’s heavy breathing in his ear, so fast and hard it hurt when he came.) But so far they hadn’t had sex with each other, together, at the same time, in the same place.
Kris wondered why he bothered to insist on that. He liked Adam, and he already cared about Adam more than he should – he couldn’t just turn off those feelings because he wanted to. He was already so tangled up with Adam, would sex really be that big of a deal? Adam needed it. Not just the physical release, but the connection. Kris could see the questions on Adam’s face some days, knew he wondered what would happen between the two of them when this was all over. Kris didn’t know all the answers, but he did know that he’d like to see where this thing went.
Kris tried to tell himself that having second thoughts about not having sex with Adam wasn’t a cop out, that he wasn’t doing this just because Adam could make him feel things just by holding his hand. What would it hurt for them to act on their feelings? In Kris’ estimation, it would only make them both feel better.
“Come on,” Kris said, having made his decision. He stood up without releasing Adam’s hand, forcing Adam to follow him.
“Where?” Adam asked, even as he rose to stand beside Kris.
Kris didn’t answer. He remembered seeing a closet when they’d been shown to the room to wait for sound check. Kris pretended not to see Tommy’s thumbs up gesture as he led Adam to the door. He wasn’t sure he could do this if he saw the matching ‘about time’ grins on Tommy’s and Isaac’s faces and knew for a fact that they knew where he and Adam were going. Or at least, what they were going to do once they got there. Even if Adam didn’t have a clue yet.
“Kris, where are we going?”
Kris didn’t answer. He found the closet and tried the knob – unlocked. Kris pushed the door open and dragged Adam inside.
“Oh god, are you breaking up with me? That’s so unfair! This is, this is not a normal situation. I’m a much better boyfriend than circumstances currently allow me to show . . . .”
Kris finally found the light, and once he could see Adam, he raised his eyebrows at him.
“You’re not breaking up with me?”
“Oh. Good.” Adam looked around them. “Then why are we . . . ?”
Kris decided that there’d been enough talking. He pressed his body against Adam’s and went up on his toes so he could press their lips together. Adam stumbled back until his back hit something solid. He managed to hold on to Kris so that their kiss didn’t break. Once Adam stabilized himself he pulled Kris in even closer and deepened the kiss. Kris moaned. At the sound Adam suddenly thrust Kris back.
“What are we doing?” Adam demanded, panting heavily from the kiss.
“I thought that was obvious,” Kris panted back.
“No,” Adam said. “No . . . you said no.”
“I changed my mind,” Kris said. ( A little petulantly, because Adam had stopped kissing him.)
“You can’t do that!” Adam sounded a little bit betrayed.
“Why not? Adam, the reasons we shouldn’t do this, they’re all good. And logical. Reasonable. But we’re so tangled up already, is sex going to make that much difference? Except for the better, of course.”
“Are you doing this because I’ve been too pushy? Or just because I’m in a funk right now? Because that won’t last, and I don’t want you to regret . . . .”
Kris took Adam’s hand and placed it over the bulge filling his jeans. Adam’s eyes went wide and he made an unintelligible sound.
“I’m doing it because I want to. And because I don’t think the reasons this should be a bad idea apply anymore. I mean, I think we’ve already crossed that line, at least emotionally, and . . . .”
This time Adam shut Kris up with a kiss. Kris was happy to let him. Especially since Adam’s hand stayed where Kris had placed it and did things he’d only ever dreamt about. Kris moaned, pushing up into Adam’s kiss, and into his hand. He groaned when Adam broke the kiss.
“Can I . . . what do you want? I’ll do anything . . . .”
Adam’s voice was a deep rasp that went right through Kris and settled in his dick. Kris moaned. There were so many things he’d imagined them doing, but, “Just touch me, Adam, please, I’ve wanted . . . .”
Adam tore at Kris’ belt buckle and he wondered desperately why he’d worn it. Kris groaned when Adam’s hand finally slid inside his jeans and touched him skin to skin.
“Yeah,” Adam said. “Wanna hear you make that sound again.”
Kris did. He was pretty sure he was never going to be able to stop making it. Especially if Adam kept touching him like that, which Kris hoped he did. Adam kissed Kris, and then released his mouth so he could drag his lips across Kris’ skin. Kris tipped his head back, panting and trying to bite back moans as Adam’s hand and lips moved over him.
Adam’s teeth touched Kris’ throat just as his thumb did something wonderful to the head of Kris’ dick. Kris let out a sound that he hoped Adam didn’t remember when this was over. When Adam touched him like that again, eliciting another potentially embarrassing noise, Kris knew his hope was in vain, but when Adam spoke, hot breath feathering across Kris’ throat and sounding as broken open as Kris felt, “Fuck, Kris, yeah,” Kris couldn’t bring himself to care.
“Adam, Adam, I . . . .”
“Are you getting close, baby?” Adam purred.
Kris shivered. If he hadn’t been before, he would have been after that. “Yeah, I . . . . Wait, what?”
Adam released him. Kris tried to find Adam’s hand so he could put it back, but Adam shook Kris’ hand off so he could push Kris’ jeans down over his hips.
“Adam, what . . . ?”
“Don’t want to make a mess, do we?”
It took Kris’ fuzzed up brain a couple seconds to figure out what Adam meant. When he did, he shook his head. No, they certainly did not want to make a mess. Adam gave Kris a dirty, filthy kiss, and then he slid down Kris’ body and put that very same tongue to work on Kris’ dick. It didn’t take long. Kris was already close and Adam was, well, good didn’t even come close to describing what Adam could do with his tongue.
Kris shoved the heel of his hand into his mouth to muffle the sounds he made when Adam took him into his throat, and then eased back to lave the head before taking him in all the way again. Kris’ fingers flexed on Adam’s shoulder as he fought the urge to speed things up, to move his hips and just thrust into Adam’s mouth. And then it didn’t matter. Kris opened his mouth in a silent cry and his fingers dug into Adam’s t-shirt as he spilled his release into Adam’s mouth.
It felt to Kris as if his orgasm came from his toes, the tips of his fingers, the roots of his hair. When he opened his eyes and saw Adam smiling down at him, Kris was surprised to realize he was still on his feet. Might not have been, he reconsidered when his knees went a bit wobbly, if Adam wasn’t holding on to him.
“That was even better than I imagined it would be,” Kris admitted breathlessly.
Adam’s eyebrows went up. “You’ve imagined this? My mouth on your cock?”
Kris shivered again when Adam’s fingers trailed over his bare hip. Adam’s eyebrows must’ve had magical properties because that little movement got Kris’ synapses firing again.
“Which answer would keep you from being too smug?” he asked warily.
Adam laughed. “Too late. Just looking at you now, looking all wasted, I’m already feeling pretty smug.”
“I don’t look wasted,” Kris denied, though not very forcefully because he knew he probably did.
Adam didn’t even dignify that with a response. He grabbed the waistband of Kris’ jeans and tugged them up. Kris batted at Adam’s hands.
“I can pull up my own pants.” Kris got them up, but he hit a snag. “But I can’t button them with your hand there.”
Adam smirked and squeezed Kris’ ass before withdrawing his hand from Kris’ jeans. Kris had to admit, if only to himself, that he kind of missed it. He ducked his head so Adam didn’t see his feelings written all over his face. Adam took the opportunity to press his lips to Kris’ neck. Kris moaned as the kiss turned into a little nibble, and he fumbled with his belt as he tried to slip the tongue into the loop.
Adam curled his hand around Kris’ hip and pulled him in close. Kris made a little sound that was drowned out by Adam’s groan as he ground his erection into Kris’ hip.
“I want you to fuck me,” Kris blurted out.
Adam hummed his agreement as he turned Kris so he could press his hips into Kris’ ass. “I want that, too, but I don’t think this is the place for it,” Adam said as he thrust lazily against Kris.
Kris braced himself against the shelf and pushed back into Adam’s thrusts. “We’ve got a hotel night coming up.”
“We do,” Adam agreed, though it came out as more of a groan. Adam didn’t speed up his easy thrusts, but his body took on a different tension. “I’m going to come.” Adam sounded like he was in pain, but Kris knew it was the best kind of pain.
“No,” Kris said. “Wait. I want you to come in my mouth.”
Adam groaned again. He dropped his head to Kris’ shoulder and covered Kris’ mouth with his hand. “You need to stop talking right now,” he managed to grit out.
Kris licked Adam’s fingers, and found enough purchase to bite one. Adam whirled Kris around and pushed him to his knees. Kris’ belly fluttered and his dick gave a twitch of interest. Adam hurriedly unbuckled his own belt and Kris licked his lips in anticipation.
Adam groaned. “You’re killing me here.”
Kris batted his eyelashes exaggeratedly at Adam and licked his lips again, this time a nice slow slide of his tongue that only ended when Adam dug his fingers into Kris’ hair and tipped his head back.
“Open up for me,” Adam rasped.
Kris didn’t have time to worry about how long it had been since he’d done this, or how big Adam had felt against his ass, as Adam fed him his cock. Kris watched Adam’s face as he sucked him, saw the pleasure there, saw how much trouble he was having just holding himself together.
“Fuck,” Adam ground out. “Fuck.”
Kris used his tongue on the underside of Adam’s cock and sucked harder just to hear the sounds Adam made. When Adam stopped making noises Kris knew he was close, and he wanted to push Adam over the edge. Kris slid his hands up Adam’s legs (he couldn’t lie, he had a thing for those long legs), and took Adam in a little further. Adam’s eyes dropped closed and his mouth fell open.
Adam’s cock pulsed on Kris’ tongue and Kris braced himself to take the first jet of come. He swallowed everything Adam gave him and sought more until Adam dragged Kris to his feet and searched out the taste of himself on Kris’ tongue.
The rest of the night went by in a blur of sexual satisfaction. Kris and Adam enjoyed a leisurely make-out session until both their phones beeped to call them to sound check. Kris flushed when the others gave him and Adam knowing looks, but luckily they went right into sound check so there wasn’t time for too much teasing. After sound check they returned to the bus for the dinner they’d ordered ahead from the Cheesecake Factory. When Adam left with Mike for this meet and greet, Kris pulled out his cell phone to return texts he’d ignored that afternoon and to check Twitter.
“Jesus, will you stop smiling like that?” Tommy complained. “It’s starting to get creepy.”
“Like what?” Kris said.
“Like the cat that got the cream,” Isaac said.
“Literally,” Tommy added, smirking.
Kris flushed hot while Tommy and Isaac high-fived each other. “Bite me,” he said, and went back to his cell phone. Kris didn’t even try to stop the smile from spreading across his face.
The show that night was electric. They were all great, but he and Adam both seemed to have a different energy that night, a connection that came out through the music they played and the lyrics they sang. When they left the stage for the encore Adam pushed Kris up against the first flat surface they found and kissed him. When the kiss broke they laughed, and Kris was still laughing when they took the stage again – he felt freaking amazing!
After they cleaned up and changed out of their stage clothes they all trooped out to sign autographs. Adam was the person everyone most wanted to see, but the rest of the band had fallen into the habit of hanging out until Mike got them all onto the bus so that Adam was never alone. It was one of the few times Kris was certain of Adam’s safety, despite the number of fans clamoring for an autograph.
Mike caught Kris’ eye after about fifteen minutes and Kris nodded in response – time to go. (Kris had inserted the ear bud while the buzz of the concert was still zinging through his blood, a reminder of his real purpose here, but he and Mike had developed a system over the past months and only used them when necessary.) To the very loud sounds of disappointment, Mike drew Adam away from the barrier and began the exodus to the bus. Tommy, Isaac and Brian fell in behind them. Kris, along with Steve, one of the bus drivers that doubled as extra security when it was needed, brought up the rear.
“Excuse me, Mr. Allen?”
Kris turned back at the sound of his name being called and recognized one of the female event staff he’d remembered seeing at some point earlier in the day. “Yes?”
“I’m sorry to bother you with this, but I couldn’t find any of the crew. It appears that someone has left a bag behind in the dressing room.”
It would be very unusual for the crew to have left anything behind when they packed up the costumes and make-up, so Kris’ mind immediately flashed onto Adam’s stalker. He was here, and somehow he’d gotten backstage and into Adam’s dressing room. Adam had never been alone inside the venue, but Kris still felt a cold chill at what might have happened.
“What did it look like?” Kris asked the woman.
“Just a regular duffel bag? I’d have brought it out myself, but we’re not supposed to touch anything like that, for liability reasons and whatnot.” She rolled her eyes and gave a wave of her hand that said she thought it was nuts, but what could you do?
“That’s fine,” Kris said. In fact, it was better than fine. Any trace evidence the stalker may have left behind would be undisturbed. “I’ll take care of it, thank you.”
The woman smiled and nodded, and turned away. Kris glanced back at the others, but they’d all moved too far away from him to call out and get their attention (at least, not without getting the attention of a couple dozen Glamberts who had remained behind for any final glimpses of Adam). He tapped his ear bud. “Mike.”
Mike’s voice came back over the comms. “What is it, Kris?”
“Someone,” Kris emphasized, “may have left something, a duffel bag, in the dressing room. I’m going to go check it out.”
“You think it’s our friend?” Mike said.
“I think it might be,” Kris said, already heading back towards the venue.
“I’ll be there as soon as I get these guys on the bus. You know the drill; don’t touch anything.”
“Got it,” Kris said as he stepped back through the door they’d exited only minutes before. He couldn’t help but feel a small twinge of excitement – the stalker was taking chances he’d never taken before. Perhaps he’d made a mistake this time that would allow them to catch him. If not fingerprints or DNA, one of the security cameras might have captured his face.
Kris followed the hallway back to the dressing room they’d used and carefully pushed open the door without touching the door handle, even though his fingerprints were already all over it. The overhead lights were off, but the bare bulbs surrounding the mirror at the make-up counter were lit. They illuminated the message scribbled in an angry scrawl across the mirror in what looked like red (Adam would probably know the exact shade) lipstick: I warned you!!
Alarm bells went off in Kris’ head. He sensed movement behind him and turned, raising his arm defensively. It may have saved his life. He deflected the trajectory of the needle that was currently embedded in his upper arm, which had probably been intended for his neck. Not that it mattered. Though he’d jerked his arm away before his attacker could depress the plunger the rest of the way, some of whatever was in the syringe had gotten into his system.
Kris grabbed the end of the syringe, somehow still mindful of possible fingerprints even in his debilitated state, and drew it out of his arm. He dropped it to the floor where it would (hopefully) be difficult for Adam’s stalker (he wore the same hoodie he’d had on in the hotel security footage) to find. Kris took a few stumbling steps away from his attacker and reached for the ear bud. His arm fell to his side, already too weak to raise that far, but he remembered that he’d already activated it.
“Mike,” Kris said. “Shit!” as he went down heavily to one knee.
“Kris?” Mike said.
“Screwed up.” Kris’ arm slid out from beneath him and he face planted onto the floor.
Kris tried to answer, but his tongue felt like cotton. He rolled to his back, hoping for a glimpse of his attacker’s face, a tattoo, something they could use to find him. His gaze caught eyes that glittered with hatred and madness. “You,” he said in confused recognition.
“You should have stayed away from him. He’ll never be yours.”
There was a glint of metal as she bent over him, and Kris knew that she intended to finish the job she’d started. And that she was going to enjoy it. He fumbled in his pocket for the only weapon he carried – a can of pepper spray. Kris managed to get a grip on it and aimed it right at her face. He closed his eyes and turned his face away before depressing the nozzle. She screamed as the pepper burned her skin and eyes, dropping the knife to claw at her own face.
“Kris, can you hear me?”
Yes, Kris thought. But he didn’t think he’d be able to hear Mike for much longer. The room was moving in and out of focus, and the screaming had faded away. “No duffel bag,” Kris said, and heard Mike’s, “Jesus, Kris, I’m coming, alright?”
That was a-okay with Kris. His last thought before he lost consciousness was, Adam is going to kill me.
“What’s wrong?” Adam said.
Instead of answering the question, Mike said, “I need everyone to get on the bus.” He didn’t sound worried, exactly. But there was something in his tone that made the hairs on the back of Adam’s neck stand up. Mike had been acting weird since the first time he’d spoken to Kris, just a couple of minutes ago, but now Kris wasn’t answering.
“Mike, is Kris alright?” Adam asked, digging in his heels.
“Kris will be fine,” Mike said, though Adam wasn’t sure how much of that was the truth, and how much wishful thinking. “But I can’t go see what he found until I get you safely on the bus.”
Adam got the hint, but he couldn’t help being concerned for Kris. “I want to go with you.”
“Absolutely not,” Mike said.
Adam opened his mouth to argue, but Brian said, “I’ll kneecap you first myself. We’ll wait for you here,” he told Mike.
Mike nodded, but also charged Steve with keeping them (well, with keeping Adam) on the bus.
“Call me as soon as you find him,” Adam said as he let Tommy drag him onto the bus.
The others dropped onto the bench in the kitchen area, while Steve stood guard outside the door. Adam paced the hallway, his phone in his hand as he kept trying to reach Kris. There was no answer, and Adam grew more frantic with each redial until finally his call was picked up.
But it wasn’t Kris’ voice that responded. “I found him,” Mike said evenly. “He’s hurt, but he’ll be fine. I’m hanging up so I can call an ambulance. Stay put! I don’t need to worry about you, too.”
Mike disconnected, but Adam barely noticed. His entire body had gone numb; he couldn’t feel the phone in his hand, couldn’t feel the floor beneath his feet. Mike had tried not to sound it, but he was really worried about Kris. Adam stumbled against the row of bunks and allowed himself to fold up and slide onto the bunk closest to him.
“Adam?” Tommy said.
Adam raised his head – he didn’t even remember lowering it to his hands – and saw Tommy kneeling beside him, a worried expression on his face. Everyone was worried about someone, it seemed. Brian and Isaac stood behind Tommy.
“What’s going on? Is Kris alright?” Tommy asked.
“I don’t know,” Adam said. The not knowing was killing him. “Mike had to call an ambulance.”
“Did he say anything else?” Brian asked.
Adam squeezed his phone until it creaked in protest. “He said he found Kris.”
“Are you sure the ambulance is for Kris?” Isaac said. “Maybe . . . .”
“Mike answered Kris’ phone. What if Kris is . . . ?” Adam couldn’t say it, didn’t even want to think it.
“Kris will be fine,” Tommy said as he pretzeled himself into the bunk with Adam and threw his arm around Adam’s shoulders, hugging him tight.
“You don’t know that,” Adam said, even though he wanted desperately to believe it.
“We do know that,” Isaac said.
“Kris is too stubborn to let this asshole take him out,” Brian added.
“If he’s hurt Kris I’m going to find him and kill him myself,” Adam said.
There really wasn’t much to say in the face of that pronouncement, except, “We’ll help you hide the body,” Isaac assured him.
Adam huffed a laugh that was half-sob. Brian and Isaac sat on the bunk across from them, one touching Adam’s knee, the other taking his hand, all three offering him comfort as they waited to hear something. What felt like years later, but had only been about five minutes, they heard sirens. Adam was the first to the front of the bus where they could peer out the door to see what was happening. Two police cars and an ambulance pulled up to the back door of the venue.
Though Adam had been in and out of that very same door half a dozen times that day, the flashing lights gave the area a surreal appearance. People met the police and EMTs at the back door and ushered them into the venue. Two of the uniformed officers took up positions outside the door.
Adam had trouble breathing. He was torn between not wanting to make Mike’s job more difficult and needing to know that Kris was alright. Adam was able to hold himself back only until he saw an unmoving figure being wheeled out on a gurney. He’d recognize Kris’ shock of messy hair anywhere. Adam called out Kris’ name and practically vaulted Steve to get past him.
Adam raced for the ambulance as fast as he could, flip flops slapping against the blacktop. He grabbed the side of the gurney when he reached it, leaning over to see Kris’ pale and way too still face. “Kris.”
The others came to a stop behind Adam and Mike gave them all a resigned look as he continued his conversation with the police officer.
“Sir, we need to get him into the ambulance.”
Adam released the gurney. “Where are you taking him?”
The EMT answered, but Adam didn’t hear what she said. “I’m going with him,” he announced.
Adam didn’t hear if she argued – that too was irrelevant.
“I’ll go, too,” Mike said. “That way I can keep an eye on both of you.”
Mike went over to speak with Steve and the others, while Adam climbed into the back of the ambulance with Kris and one of the EMTs. He vaguely registered Mike climbing into the front of the ambulance. Adam found Kris’ hand, strapped to his side, and held onto it like a lifeline.
“You’re going to be okay,” Adam told Kris. He wasn’t sure if he believed it, but he needed Kris to believe it. He touched Kris’ hair, but otherwise tried to stay out of the EMT’s way as she tracked Kris’ vitals and communicated them to the hospital.
At the hospital Adam and Mike were left behind as they rushed Kris into the ER. Mike stayed with him in the waiting room, though he kept one eye on the curtained-off area into which Kris had disappeared and half his attention on his cell phone.
Finally Kris was being moved to a room. He was still unconscious from the drug he’d been given, and they wanted to keep him under observation at least until he woke and they were sure there were no side effects. They got the ‘we’ll let you know when he’s settled’ spiel, and Adam opened his mouth to protest. Mike beat him to it.
“He was attacked tonight,” Mike told the nurse. “We’re not letting him out of our sight.” Mike showed her his security ID and added, “When the police come by, let them know where we are, will you?”
The nurse didn’t seem impressed by the ID, but she allowed them to follow the orderly pushing Kris down the hall to the elevator. She also hadn’t seemed to recognize Adam, for which he was grateful – no one waiting in the ER had, either, their own troubles far greater than people-spotting – because he didn’t think he had it in him to fake a smile if someone had asked him for an autograph while he waited to hear about Kris.
They waited in the hallway while Kris was being settled. As soon as they were allowed in the room Adam pulled a chair up to the bed and began his vigil. Mike stood at Adam’s shoulder and looked at Kris for a moment.
“I called his parents,” Mike said softly. “I didn’t want them to hear about this on the news, if it got out.”
Adam swore. “I didn’t even think about . . . .”
Mike squeezed Adam’s shoulder. He turned to leave. “I’m going to be right outside the door. Call me if there’s any change.”
“I will,” Adam promised. “Mike,” he called just before Mike opened the door. “Call in more people. I don’t care if we look like an armed camp, I want him protected.”
Mike nodded. “It’s already done.”
Adam turned his attention back to Kris as the door softly shooshed shut behind him. He lifted Kris’ hand from the blanket and pressed his lips to the back, then to the palm.
“You need to wake up soon,” Adam said, as tears of anger, frustration, fear burned his eyes. “So I can kick your ass for scaring me.”
Adam was a little bit freaked out by how still Kris was. Even as mellow and laid back as he was normally, Kris always seemed to be in motion – strumming his guitar, singing along to whatever song was in his head, fingers tapping out a beat on his thighs. Or laughing. Kris laughed a lot. Adam wished he could hear Kris laugh now.
Nurses came in and out on silent feet, checking Kris’ vitals – none of them seemed concerned that Kris was still unconscious. Mike came in a couple of times – once to tell Adam that his team had caught a flight out, and another time to let him know he’d called the others to update them on Kris’ status. Both times he just watched Kris breathe for a few seconds before squeezing Adam’s shoulder and returning to his post outside the door.
A detective eventually showed up. He talked to Mike, then came in to look at Kris as if he didn’t believe Mike’s assertion that he hadn’t woken up yet. The detective glared at Kris as if staring would make him wake up. Adam knew for a fact that it wouldn’t. After the detective left with an admonition that they call him as soon as Kris woke up Mike rolled his eyes at Adam, which actually made him smile in solidarity, and then he left Adam alone with Kris once more.
Adam was just getting to the point where he was going to pull his hair out if Kris didn’t wake up, maybe run out into the hallway screaming for someone to do something, when Kris’ fingers fluttered in Adam’s hold. Adam’s gaze jerked to Kris’ face as a relieved, “Kris,” escaped his lips.
Adam raised Kris’ hand to his cheek and touched his other hand to the top of Kris’ head. “Hey, baby.”
Kris struggled to open his eyes, but it proved too much effort for him. He gave up the vain attempt, licked his lips, and turned his head towards Adam. “Adam?”
Kris’ voice sounded like he’d chewed cut glass. “It’s okay,” Adam said, stroking Kris’ hair. “You’re going to be fine, Kris.”
Kris’ head moved on the pillow in an approximation of a nod. “Sorry,” he said, and then clearly exhausted by those few words, promptly fell asleep.
Adam panicked at first, but then he noticed the difference between sleeping Kris and unconscious Kris. For the first time since he knew Kris was in trouble Adam allowed himself to believe that Kris really would be alright. A tear escaped Adam’s eye and slid down his cheek. He angrily wiped it away. How ridiculous was he to cry now that Kris appeared to be out of danger? Adam composed himself and reluctantly released Kris’ hand so he could tell Mike that Kris had woken up. Mike’s head turned towards Adam as soon as he heard the door open.
“Kris woke up,” Adam said. “Just for a second, but . . . .”
“Thank god,” Mike said as he jumped out of his seat. “Is he . . . ?”
Adam shook his head. “No, he fell back to sleep, but he recognized me. That’s good, right?”
“That’s excellent!” Mike assured him. “Did he say anything?”
Adam shook his head again. “Nothing about . . . . Just my name and . . . that he was sorry.”
Mike gave Adam a thoughtful shake of his own head. “Yeah. Still gonna kill him when he wakes up, aren’t you?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Adam said with heartfelt determination. He gave a little huff of laughter that turned to a sob. “He scared me,” Adam admitted.
“You and me both,” Mike said. He patted Adam’s arm. “But he’ll be fine. And so will you.”
Adam nodded. He wanted to get back to Kris, but someone should call the others, let them know Kris had woken up, if only for a moment. “Listen, would you call the others?”
“Of course,” Mike said. “You go back in there and be with Kris; I think you’ll both feel better. You might have some nurses visiting you in a couple minutes.”
Adam’s butt had barely settled back into his chair when a nurse came in.
“I hear our boy’s waking up,” she said in that soft voice nurses seemed to have perfected.
“Yes,” Adam said. “It was just for a second, but . . . .”
“It’s a good sign,” the nurse said as she jotted something down in Kris’ chart.
“Is he going to be alright?” Adam forced himself to ask.
“What do you mean, hon?”
“We were told . . . . They said they needed to keep him under observation because of possible side effects?”
“We couldn’t be sure how much of the drug he’d been given, or how he might react to it, but it’s a very good sign that he’s coming out of it.”
It was reassuring to hear that, even if it gave him no more information than he’d had before he asked. The nurse left Adam alone with Kris again. Adam picked up Kris’ hand and cradled it in his own and just watched him sleep. He’d seen Kris sleep before and, yep, there it was, Kris’ fingers dancing across Adam’s palm as if he was playing music even in his sleep. Adam bent his head and kissed each of Kris’ fingers, then rested his head on the edge of the bed and waited for Kris to play the next chord.
Adam returned to consciousness with the sensation of Kris’ fingers in his hair. He jerked upright, dislodging Kris’ hand, and looked around wildly, trying to figure out where he was. The sight of Kris lying in a hospital bed and surrounded by beeping equipment meant to monitor his vitals jerked Adam fully awake.
Kris pressed his lips together, biting back a laugh. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.”
“You didn’t,” Adam said reflexively.
Kris snorted softly.
“How do you feel?” Adam asked, reaching for the hand that had been in his hair.
“Tired, strangely enough. And sore.” Kris touched his face where a bruise was forming.
“What happened?” Adam said dangerously.
Kris’ eyebrows went up, then he sheepishly admitted. “I think I fell on my face. Literally.”
Adam batted Kris’ hand away from where he kept prodding at the bruise. “Quit poking at it.”
Adam kept his voice even, though he was overtaken by a sudden surge of fury. Now that he wasn’t so worried about whether Kris was going to be alright he was filled with rage at the person that had hurt him.
“I’m okay,” Kris said gently, as if he could read Adam’s mind. Or see the thunderclouds in his expression.
“I know,” Adam said briskly. “I’m still going to kill someone,” he added, as if he’d just announced he was going to toast a bagel for breakfast.
“But not right now,” Kris said as he tugged on Adam’s hand.
“No, not right this second.” Adam let himself be pulled down for a kiss. He cradled Kris’ face in his palm and breathed in the scent of him as they kissed – stale hospital and the drugs and fear sweat, but underneath it all, just Kris.
“I could’ve lost you,” Adam said. He deepened the kiss just to make sure he hadn’t.
“I see you’re awake,” Mike said wryly.
Kris thought it was totally unfair that he could be attacked by a madman (madwoman?) and spend the night in the hospital, and still blush at being caught kissing his, well, kissing Adam. Adam gave Kris one last kiss before pulling back, though he didn’t release Kris’ hand.
“I was just going to come and get you,” Adam said, giving Kris a half-hearted wink. Kris thought he deserved an A for effort, though.
“Of course you were,” Mike agreed in a dry tone. “How are you feeling?” he asked Kris.
Kris opened his mouth to reply, but Adam answered for him before he could. “Tired and sore.”
Mike just raised an eyebrow and let it go without comment. “What happened to your face?”
“He fell on his face!” Adam replied angrily.
“Could you make me sound any more of a klutz?” Kris said.
Mike’s lips twitched, and then he got serious. “Do you remember what happened? I need Kris to answer this one,” he told Adam, who clamped his lips together and stared intently at Kris as he, too, waited for Kris’ reply.
Kris knew what happened to him in a hazy sort of way, but he hadn’t had time to really think about it. Kris closed his eyes and let himself remember. His fear for Adam mixed with excitement that they might be one step closer to catching this guy, the words scribbled across the mirror, the needle, and finally, recognition. “I knew her,” Kris said.
“Her?” Mike repeated.
Kris looked at Mike. “I think we’ve been chasing the wrong gender. Presuming, of course, that the person that attacked me is the same person stalking Adam.”
“What are the chances they’re not?” Adam asked.
“Slim,” Mike admitted. “And it would explain why we couldn’t find a guy casing the hotel on the security tapes,” he mused. Kris could see him mentally making a note to follow up on that. “Did you see her face? Can you describe her?” Mike asked excitedly.
“I think so,” Kris said. “The first time I saw her she was wearing one of those Event Staff t-shirts.”
“The first time?” Adam said.
“I’m pretty sure it was the same person that told me someone had left something behind.”
“You were lured back there,” Mike said.
Adam’s grip went tight on Kris’ hand before relaxing.
“Yeah,” Kris said, giving Adam’s hand what he hoped was a reassuring squeeze.
“He’s tired,” Adam announced.
“I’m fine,” Kris argued, even though he could barely get the words out.
“Get some rest while you can,” Mike said. “You’ll have nurses in here soon, and a detective as soon as I call him to tell him you’re awake. I’m going to make some phone calls to the team first.”
Mike left them alone. Adam remained by Kris’ bedside, just gazing at him.
“You’re starting to freak me out,” Kris said.
“You scared me,” Adam said without blame. “Deal with it.”
“Hmm, point,” Kris said as he let his eyes slide shut. They were just too heavy to keep open.
Just when Kris was getting all heavy and dozy a nurse showed up and shooed Adam out of the room so she could check Kris over. Kris had heard the phrase ‘mad as a wet hen’ before, but he’d never really had anything to apply it to until now. Adam was not happy that he had to leave Kris alone, and he slipped back into the room as soon as the nurse left. He carried two cups of Starbucks coffee, which he set on the table beside the bed, just out of Kris’ reach.
Adam leaned over Kris and gave him a kiss, then plumped pillows that didn’t need plumping, pulled up his blanket, and made sure the bed was adjusted appropriately. Only when he was satisfied with Kris’ comfort did Adam hand over one of the cups of coffee. Kris breathed in the scent that had been tantalizing him since Adam walked back into the room, and then took a careful sip.
Kris sighed gratefully at the first hit of caffeine. “Thank you.”
“I’m not actually sure if you’re supposed to have that,” Adam said, “but you’re welcome.”
Adam disappeared into the bathroom and returned with a wet paper towel. Kris sputtered in protest when he began washing Kris’ face.
“What are you doing?” Kris turned his head to try and escape Adam’s hand.
“Washing your face,” Adam said.
“Because you always feel better after you’ve washed your face.”
Kris shrugged. True. But the important distinction was that he was washing his own face in that scenario.
“And because you’ve got company.”
“The detective?” Kris guessed as he relented and allowed Adam to wipe his face. He did feel better after the cool towel passed over his skin.
“Worse,” Adam said, but the corners of his lips were threatening to turn up a bit.
The door was pushed open and Kris expected to see Mike. Instead, Tommy poked his head in. “Can we come in yet?”
Kris grinned at the sound of Tommy’s voice and Adam smiled down at him. Adam tossed the paper towel in the trash and stepped back so Tommy, Isaac, and Brian could assure themselves that Kris was alright. Five minutes later they were kicked out. Kris was sorry to see them leave, but on the other hand he’d been having difficulty keeping his eyes open. This time he didn’t fight it.
When Kris woke, Adam was sitting beside the bed and clutching his hand. Kris wiggled his fingers and Adam immediately raised his eyes to Kris’ face.
“Hey,” Kris said, his voice a little raspy, but not nearly as bad as the last time.
“Hey,” Adam said back, sounding relieved. He dropped a kiss on Kris’ lips and Kris thought that was the best part about waking up. “That detective’s here to see you,” Adam softly told Kris.
Kris nodded. “Water?”
Adam busied himself with pouring some water from a pink plastic pitcher into a pink plastic cup and sticking a straw in it. He held the cup and straw so Kris could drink. The cool water felt amazing on his thick tongue and scratchy throat. Kris took two more sips before declaring himself ready to face the detective. Adam went to the door to let Mike know that Kris had woken again, and then returned followed by Mike and a man Kris didn’t know. He introduced himself as Detective Randall.
“Can you tell me in your own words what happened last night?” Randall said.
Kris told the detective everything he could remember, from the woman approaching him outside the venue to the pepper spray.
“Did you see the knife?”
“Knife?” Adam said.
“I don’t . . . the light shined off something,” Kris said. He concentrated hard, trying to bring his memories back into focus. “I heard something fall. I’m sorry, everything’s still a bit hazy.”
“There was a knife?” Adam said, glaring at Mike, who had clearly not shared that information with Adam.
Randall asked Kris more questions, trying to get additional details out of him. Kris gave him a description of the woman, which Mike jotted down, as well, and made arrangements to meet with a sketch artist later that day.
When they were alone again Adam was quiet. Too quiet.
“What are you thinking?”
“This is all my fault,” Adam said.
That made Kris sit up straight. “Why would you say that?”
“Because it’s true,” Adam said. “You said we shouldn’t . . . .” Adam gestured with his hand. “That it would be too distracting.”
“Trust me, you were distracting even without the . . . .” Kris mimicked Adam’s hand motion.
Instead of clearing, Adam’s expression turned more morose.
“That didn’t come out right,” Kris said. “You have to cut me some slack because, I mean, look at me.” Kris gave Adam his best puppy dog eyes.
“Yeah,” Adam said sadly. “Look at you.”
Drastic measures were called for when the puppy dog eyes didn’t work. “Come here.” Kris shifted over on the mattress to make room.
Adam’s eyes went wide. “What are you . . . ? I’m not getting into that bed with you!” Adam hissed and glanced over his shoulder as if the hospital bed police were just waiting for them to slip up.
Kris tugged on Adam’s hand and patted the empty spot next to him. He tried the puppy eyes again.
Adam rolled his own eyes. “Oh, stop that.” He looked at the bed with a great deal of skepticism.
“We’ll both fit,” Kris assured him, and this time when he tugged gently on Adam’s hand, Adam allowed himself to be pulled onto the bed. He sat his hip on the edge of the mattress, then, being very careful of Kris, he pulled his legs up. They lay on their sides, sharing Kris’ pillow, and looked at each other. Kris touched Adam’s arm, then stroked his fingers down until he could twine them with Adam’s.
“This wasn’t your fault.” Adam opened his mouth to disagree, but Kris stopped him with a press of his own lips. “No, let me finish. I wish I’d been thinking about . . . that. But I wasn’t. I didn’t even think about the threat he, she, had made against me. I just, I screwed up. I was so cocky. I thought, we’ve got him now. He’s acting out of character, he’s going to make a mistake. I let my guard down.” It was just luck that he’d deflected the needled, gotten his fingers to work on the pepper spray, but he wasn’t going to tell Adam that.
“I’m sorry,” Kris said. “I was arrogant and irresponsible. If I’d waited for Mike to back me up, or even thought about having Mike back me up, we might have caught her then. I’m the worst bodyguard ever.”
For the first time Kris realized that he really didn’t know what he was doing. He’d been trained to keep fans from mobbing an actor when he wanted to go out to dinner, or to make sure no one crashed a party, but what did he really know about keeping someone safe? He knew, intellectually, that Mike was doing the heavy lifting on this one, but it didn’t make him feel any better that he couldn’t seem to pull his own weight. First he’d let Adam get out of his sight at that club, and then he’d let himself get ambushed. It was not one of his shining moments.
“You couldn’t have known it was a trap.”
“No,” Kris agreed, “but it should have crossed my mind.”
“What matters now is what we do going forward,” Adam said.
What Kris didn’t realize was that Adam’s stalker had made a fatal mistake the night she attacked Kris – she’d royally pissed off Adam. Even while trying not to let her affect him, living his life with his head buried in the sand, Adam had still allowed himself to become a victim. His stalker had changed the way Adam lived his life, even if he didn’t want to admit it. That stopped today – Adam was going to stop living his life defensively and start living it offensively.
Adam stayed with Kris through his discharge (not meeting Kris’ eyes when the doctor commented on Kris’ accelerated heart rate), the call to Kim Allen to assure her that Kris was alright, and his meeting with the sketch artist. When they returned to the bus Adam put Kris in his own larger bed to rest. He left the door cracked and claimed a spot in the lounge where he could hear when Kris woke up, or if he had a nightmare.
Adam called his tour managed and talked about rescheduling the show they’d had to cancel for that night. He also called his own mother to assure her that he was fine. Then he found Mike.
“I want to know everything,” Adam said.
Mike just looked at Adam for a moment, as if weighing whether he could handle the truth, and then he nodded. “Alright.”
Mike joined Adam in the lounge. He laid his phone on the seat beside him and opened the file he’d carried back on his lap. On top was a copy of the sketch. Adam had looked at it after Kris had nodded and said, “Yeah, that’s her,” but he took it when Mike handed it to him and looked at it again.
“We found her on the hotel video,” Mike said.
Adam let his gaze move over features he’d already memorized. “She did make a mistake,” he said, mostly to himself.
Mike answered anyway. “More than one.”
Next came a police photograph of the syringe she’d used to incapacitate Kris. Adam couldn’t keep his mind from imagining the worst; from thinking about how close Kris had come to being hurt. Or worse. Adam handed the photo back, congratulating himself when his hand didn’t shake. “What else?”
The next photo was of the message she’d scribbled angrily across the dressing room mirror and lit up with the mirror lights. Seeing the words made Adam’s blood run cold, and strengthened his determination. His hand did shake when he looked at the photo of the knife she’d dropped when Kris had pepper sprayed her. His stomach twisted nauseously and he had to bite back the bile as he remembered the cat he’d found outside his gate, and imagined her doing that to Kris.
“They took the knife apart and found DNA beneath the handle where she may have cut herself. There was also a partial print,” Mike told him.
“She didn’t expect to leave that behind,” Adam mused.
Mike shook his head. “No, she didn’t.” Mike paused, and when he spoke again his voice was gentle. “They’ve also made a tentative match to the weapon used to kill the poor cat left outside your house – it’s the same type, but they need to do more tests to determine if it’s the same weapon.
“She was going to do that to Kris,” Adam said, needing to get the words out of his head.
It wasn’t a question, and Mike didn’t answer it. At least, not in words, but his expression said it all.
Adam handed back the stack of photos to Mike. “What are the police doing?”
“They ran the partial fingerprint, but there was no match. We’re hoping we get a hit on the DNA, but those tests take a while. They’re also running both the photo and the sketch through facial recognition, but nothing so far. And they’ve released the sketch and the photo to the news channels with a whitewashed story that she’s being sought as a person of interest in an attack at the theater. We weren’t able to keep Kris’ name out of it because too many people saw him being wheeled into the ambulance, and saw you rushing to his side,” Mike added dryly. “And there’s video of it.”
“Awesome,” Adam said as he imagined his fear for Kris getting hits on YouTube.
It was three o’clock in the morning when they stopped at a hotel twenty miles from the venue for that night’s show. Even on short notice Judy had managed to arrange for rooms, and she got them a suite so they could all stay together. With everything that had happened no one wanted to be separated, and now that they were back together Mike didn’t want to let anyone out of his sight.
The bus parked in the back of the hotel and they entered through the back door. The elevators were just down the hallway and they were taken right up to their floor, bypassing check-in. Adam really loved Judy some days. Mike’s team was waiting for them in the suite when they arrived. Mike and Kris greeted everyone, and then Kris was swept into a hug by Cale Mills.
Kris groaned, “Oh my god, Cale, put me down, I can’t breathe!”
“I can’t let you out of my sight without you getting into trouble,” Cale teased as he set Kris back on his feet.
Adam glanced around, but the rest of the band appeared to be too tired to take note of the greeting.
“If I remember correctly, I get into way more trouble with you than without you,” Kris said dryly.
Cale shrugged and grinned. “To-may-to, to-mah-to,” he said.
Mike got everyone’s attention and did a quick introduction before sending Adam and the band to their assigned rooms so they could get some rest.
“What about you?” Kris asked Mike.
“We’re going to have a meeting, and then I’ll bunk with Brian for a couple of hours.”
“If you’re having a meeting I should be there,” Kris said.
Mike gave him a look. “I’ll brief you in the morning, get some rest.”
“I’ve been sleeping since I got on the bus,” Kris complained, but he didn’t argue when Adam took his hand and led him to the room they’d be sharing.
Adam saw Cale glance at their hands, but he didn’t say anything, and neither did Adam. He did make a point of closing the door firmly to give them as much privacy as possible.
Adam sat on the mattress and kicked off his flip flops. Kris stared forlornly at the bed.
“I had such high hopes for our next hotel night,” Kris said, sighing.
Adam snorted. The thought of fucking Kris elicited a twitch of interest, but Adam pushed it down. “Get ready for bed.”
“Seriously, Adam, I don’t think I can sleep any more.” Kris shot a glare at the door. “I can’t believe they kicked me out of the meeting,” he grumbled.
Adam tried not to smile. “We’ll just cuddle, then.”
Kris looked at Adam as if trying to figure out if he was teasing him. “Okay.”
Kris pulled his t-shirt off over his head with only a little trouble, then dropped his hands to the waistband of his sweat pants. Adam’s libido sat up and took notice as Kris pushed sweat pants and briefs down over his hips. He had to swallow hard before he could speak. “I didn’t think you slept naked.”
“We’re not sleeping,” Kris said, “we’re cuddling. And naked cuddling is the best kind of cuddling.” Kris threw the covers back and slid under them. “Well, come on,” he said, sounding almost like a petulant toddler.
Adam bet himself that Kris was asleep within five minutes.
It was more like fifteen, and Adam was forced to suffer through another forty-five minutes of naked Kris pressed up against his side before he also fell asleep. Adam stroked his hand down Kris’ side and over his hip in a repetitive motion that eventually lulled him to sleep.
Adam woke from the best dream ever to discover that it hadn’t been a dream at all – Kris really was kneeling between his legs, sucking him down. Adam groaned loudly as the sight of Kris’ head bent over him created a tingle low in his belly. Kris raised his head and grinned. He glanced at the door, then gave Adam a look that dared him to try and keep quiet as he lowered his mouth over Adam again.
Adam had to shove the heel of his hand into his mouth to keep from groaning again. Kris hummed happily around him and Adam dug his fingers into Kris’ hair so he could fuck up into Kris’ mouth. It felt amazing, his cock sliding over Kris’ tongue, and it was over way too fucking soon. Adam’s back arched as he emptied himself into Kris’ mouth, and then he lapped his come off Kris’ tongue when Kris crawled up Adam’s body to share it with him.
“That was absolutely filthy,” Adam said, pleased, before attempting to lick every last taste of himself out of Kris’ mouth.
Finally satisfied, Adam flipped Kris onto his back and returned the favor, slurping at Kris’ leaking cock as if it was his favorite flavor of lollipop. When Kris got close, his thighs trembling, the soft noises he made getting more desperate, Adam teased his finger over Kris’ asshole. Kris keened and spread his legs as if begging Adam for more. Adam kept up the soft, steady strokes until Kris broke and begged, “Adam, please!”
Adam pressed the tip of his finger inside him and Kris exploded into Adam’s mouth.
An hour later, after showering and a quick breakfast, they were back on the bus and headed to their next stop. The crew was already at the venue setting up, and Adam had an interview before sound check. Cale was on the bus with them, while the rest of Mike’s team were in a van that trailed the bus.
Adam insisted on sitting in on the briefing Mike gave Kris. He did not like what he heard. The police, as Mike had already informed him, had released the sketch and photograph taken from the security video, and were following up on every lead that came in from that. No one, however, believed that Adam’s still-nameless stalker had remained in the same city. It was a safe bet that she was following Adam’s tour across the country – though where she’d turn up next was anyone’s guess.
The plan, if Kris agreed (and of course he did), was to lure her out by using himself as bait. She’d already gone after him once, chances were that she’d make another attempt. Adam, quite vociferously, did not agree. His disagreement was so loud that Tommy wandered down to the kitchen from the lounge to see what was up.
“They want to use Kris for bait,” Adam said.
“After what happened the other night?” Tommy said.
“That’s what I’m saying!” Adam said. “It’s ridiculous.”
“Because of what happened the other night,” Kris explained. “First of all, I can’t believe she got the jump on me, but more importantly, she’s going to think she can do it again.”
“You mean she’s going to be cocky?” Adam said.
Kris paused, took a breath as the barb hit home. “Yes, Adam, she’s going to be cocky. Just like I was. She’s also going to be pissed because I got away. Her photograph is out there, it’s only a matter of time before someone spots her, or recognizes her, and calls the police. She knows her time is almost up. She probably doesn’t even care if she gets caught at this point, as long as she can take me out first.”
“That’s supposed to make me feel better?” Adam said, incredulous.
“The difference this time is that we’re ready. I’ll have back up, and I’ll be under surveillance the entire time.”
Kris waited for Adam to say something, but he didn’t say what Kris wanted him to, he couldn’t, and Kris wasn’t hearing what Adam was saying. They’d come up with this plan without Adam’s input, and Kris had made his decision in the face of Adam’s opposition. Well, he had something to say, and he was going to be heard – and Adam knew exactly who would be listening.
“Don’t we have an interview to get to?”
“What’s he doing?” Kris said, his voice low so it wouldn’t be picked up by the microphones.
“I don’t know,” Mike replied softly.
The interview had started out fine – talk about the tour and that night’s show in particular, how well Adam’s latest single was doing on the charts, an award he’d been nominated for – and then it veered into dangerous territory. The DJ brought up the incident at the last venue. At first Adam stuck to the party line, saying that Kris had been attacked by persons unknown, for reasons unknown, though he had managed to get a description of her and given it to the police.
“Kris Allen, your guitarist,” DJ Dan ‘the man in the morning’ Clapper said. “He’s with us today.
“Yes,” Adam said. He glanced at Kris, giving him a look that contained both love and apology. Kris thought the apology was because Adam still felt guilty for what had happened to him. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
“Kris is alright now, as you can see. Except for a few bruises. But I’m still . . . just so . . . pissed off,” Adam said into the microphone, his eyes turned away from Kris. “Like, this person thinks they have the right to hurt someone I care about. I just really want the police to find her and put her away for a very long time. I mean, I’d be upset if anything happened to any of my friends or family, and Kris is important to me as part of my tour family, of course, but he’s come to mean so much more to me than that.”
That’s when Kris noticed that something was going on. He slid off the stool he’d been given; Adam studiously ignored him, but the DJ glanced over before turning his attention back to Adam.
“The internet’s full of rumors,” Dan said. “That leaked photograph of the two of you on the beach . . . .”
Adam chuckled. “Well, let me set the record straight. So to speak. Kris and I aren’t an item yet, but that’s only because he thinks we should wait. Spending hours cooped up on a bus is a great way to get to know someone, but it’s also not necessarily the best place to begin a relationship you want to last past the end of the tour. Kris and I have . . . grown close. As soon as this tour ends we’re going on our first official date, and then we’ll see what happens.” Adam gave a dirty little laugh – one that would have given Kris goosebumps and had him thinking sexy thoughts at any other time. Right now he was only thinking about killing Adam – then said, “Not like that, get your minds out of the gutter, people.”
“You want to make sure it’s not just a proximity thing,” Dan said, encouraging Adam.
“Exactly,” Adam agreed. “Though I’m already 110% sure it isn’t. I’m a big believer in the universe and fate, and I think that the stars aligned so Kris came into my life at that moment for a reason.”
“So you’re soulmates?” Dan said, eyes twinkling. Probably because he was getting such a scoop, Kris thought uncharitably.
“I think we might be,” Adam said. He glanced at Kris, then away quickly before Kris could read his eyes.
“Will Kris be going on the international leg of your tour with you? Maybe I should ask Kris this,” Dan said as an afterthought.
Kris really hoped he didn’t; he wasn’t sure he could speak without sputtering angrily right then.
“If I have anything to say about it he will be,” Adam said. “After that I expect Kris will be making his own album. He’s a pretty talented singer himself, you know.”
Adam glanced at Kris and, ignoring the furious expression on his face, smiled softly. Kris felt some of his anger melt away, but not all of it.
Kris managed to get through the two songs Adam sang in the studio, but he wasn’t sure how he did it – half of his mind was busy thinking about the ramifications of what Adam had just done. They waited until they were back inside the relative privacy of the bus before discussing it, and by then it had been building up inside of Kris until it reached a boiling point.
“What the hell was that?” Kris exploded as soon as the bus doors had shut behind them.
Tommy, Isaac, Brian, and Cale all looked up in surprise at Kris’ outburst. Adam just shrugged and said, “What was what?”
The faux innocence didn’t look good on Adam. Before Kris could yell some more Mike put his hand on Kris’ arm.
“You made yourself a target,” Mike said.
“I’ve always been a target,” Adam replied evenly. “I’ve just decided to stop being a victim.”
“No,” Kris said. “You’ve been the object of her obsession, but not a target of her displeasure. You have just set yourself up as bait!”
“You mean like you were going to?” Adam said with enough saccharine sweetness in his tone to give them all an overdose.
“That’s different,” Kris said.
Adam crossed his arms over his chest and stared at Kris belligerently. “How is it different?”
“Because it’s my job to protect you!” Kris yelled at him.
“I do not give a shit about that!” Adam yelled back. “You are not getting hurt because of me. Not again. She just escalated past what I’m going to sit back and take. I love you, god-damn it!” Adam looked more surprised than anyone else at the declaration. He turned and stormed down the hallway before Kris could respond, managing to not smack his elbows on the bunks, and slid the door to his room shut with a loud thunk.
There was silence in the wake of Adam’s dramatic exit. Mike spoke first, just Kris’ name.
“I’m going for a run,” Kris said.
“We need to figure out what we’re going to do,” Mike said.
“When I get back, okay? I need to clear my head.”
Mike studied Kris, then nodded. “Okay. Wear the ear buds.” He looked at Cale. “Cale.”
“Shit,” Cale groused, but he followed Kris out of the bus as Mike contacted the rest of the team set up down the street from the theater to let them know that Kris and Cale were going out so they could keep them under surveillance.
They were silent while they stretched and they made it through the first mile before Cale spoke. “You know he’s just worried about you.”
Kris grunted in reply. He did know that. Problem was, he was worried about Adam. They ran another mile before Kris told Cale that.
“Yeah,” Cale said. “You wanna talk about that?”
“No,” Kris said. He turned around and they headed back. Kris pretended he hadn’t heard Cale’s heartfelt, “Thank goodness!”
“I’ve compromised my ability to guard him effectively,” Kris said.
Cale snorted. At Kris’ look he expanded on that reaction. “Seems more like you’ve compromised your ability to look after yourself.”
Kris huffed a sound that wasn’t quite a laugh. If he couldn’t take care of himself, how could he take care of Adam? Kris shook his head – it didn’t mater, what was done was done, now they just had to figure out how they were going to handle it.
She was unpredictable; she’d been slowly escalating, but her escalation had taken a huge jump when she attacked Kris, and now Adam had fanned the flames. On the plus side, Kris was even more firmly entrenched as bait for the trap they were setting, but he was not happy that Adam had set himself smack dab in the middle of that trap. Before she’d have gone after Kris to get him away from Adam, now she’d go after Adam for rejecting her.
Kris still hadn’t figured out what he was going to do with Adam on a personal level when they got back to the bus. Cale sighed in relief as Kris slowed to a walk to cool down, and then stopped outside the bus to stretch again. When they stepped onto the bus Kris saw that Adam had joined the others in the kitchen area. He sat with his arms crossed over his chest as he stared at the door and waited for Kris to return. Relief flooded his features when he saw Kris, but then he gave Kris a look that was equal parts sheepish and angry. He reminded Kris of a petulant teenager that knew he’d done something wrong but wasn’t about to admit it.
“I’m not going to apologize,” Adam stated.
Kris thought it would be a bad idea if he laughed. Instead he ignored the others and straddled Adam’s lap. Adam looked surprised at the move, then his expression went blank.
“What are you doing?”
Kris had no idea. He rested his forehead against Adam’s.
“You’re all sweaty,” Adam said, but he uncrossed his arms and placed his hands on Kris’ hips.
“I don’t want anything to happen to you,” Kris said.
“Well, I don’t exactly want anything to happen to me, either,” Adam said, exasperated. “But I’m not letting anything happen to you.”
Kris didn’t bother reminding Adam that he was the bodyguard here. He knew it didn’t matter to how they each felt about the other.
“Now that Kris is back and Adam’s stopped moping, anybody wanna tell us what’s going on?” Brian said.
“Seconded,” Tommy said without looking up from his guitar.
“Thirded.” Isaac punctuated that with a strike of his drumstick against the table.
Kris swung his leg over Adam’s lap and twisted about so he could plop down on the seat beside him. Adam grabbed for his hand as if he thought Kris was planning on making a run for it. Kris let him tangle their fingers together.
“Okay,” Mike said after Cale dropped next to Kris. “First, Matt reported that no one took undue notice of you on your run.”
Kris nodded. He remembered Alexis’ voice in his ear. “No one appears to recognize you guys. I thought you were all famous now, Allen.” And Matt’s laughter.
“Second.” Mike turned to the others. “Any of you listen to Adam’s radio interview earlier?” The three of them shook their heads, and Mike went on. “Without discussing it with us first.” Mike shot an exasperated look at Adam. “He decided to basically call out his stalker.”
“Ahh,” Isaac said.
“No wonder Kris was pissed,” Tommy added.
“Speaking of Kris . . . .” Brian said, trailing off expectantly.
“Kris works for Sarver Security,” Adam said. “But he’s my guitarist, and my . . . .” He trailed off, as if unsure exactly what Kris was. Which was okay, because Kris wasn’t entirely sure himself.
“Soulmate?” Mike filled in, almost gleefully, Kris thought.
Kris blushed. Adam played with Kris’ fingers. Isaac snorted.
“You didn’t,” Tommy said. When no one denied it, he said, “You did?”
“I may have said that,” Adam admitted.
“You said, on air, that Kris was your soulmate?” Brian clarified, clearly trying not to laugh.
Tommy and Isaac didn’t hold back.
“Oh, shut up,” Adam said, which set off Cale, as well.
Adam stared at Kris’ fingers for a couple of seconds, and then raised his gaze to Kris’ face. When their eyes met, Kris smiled.
“This is the weirdest security gig I’ve ever been a part of,” Cale commented.
“They get weirder,” Mike assured him. “Not by much, but some.” Mike took a deep breath and got serious again. “Okay, now we need to talk logistics. We’re setting a trap with Kris, and now Adam, as the bait. We have no idea when, or how, it will be sprung. For safety reasons, Kris and Adam will stay together at all times . . . .”
“Convenient,” Tommy drawled.
“. . . so we don’t have to divide our forces, and either Cale or I will be with them at all times. In public,” he added, which drew a laugh-turned-cough from the peanut gallery. “The other will be with you three, who will also never go anywhere in public alone. She’s coming for Kris and Adam, but we still don’t know who she’ll take out to get to them. Also, we have a surveillance team in the van. You . . . .” Mike pointed to Adam. “Will need to be fitted out with a tracking device and panic button.”
“What about Kris?” Adam said.
“He’s got an ear bud for communication, and we’re already tracking him in case that goes dead.”
“Okay, good,” Adam said. After a brief pause he asked Kris, “You don’t wear the ear bud all the time, do you?”
Kris felt his cheeks flame. “No. Geeze, Adam!”
“Just checking,” Adam said, but Kris was gratified to see that he was blushing, too, if not quite as furiously as Kris.
“What do we do?” Brian asked.
“Try to act as normal as possible,” Mike said. “As far as Adam’s stalker is concerned, the only change we made is bringing in one more bodyguard. She doesn’t know about Kris,” he said, ticking items off on his fingers. “She doesn’t know about the tracking devices. And she doesn’t know about the surveillance.”
“And we still don’t know who the hell she is,” Kris added.
Adam squeezed Kris’ hand. “But she’s already made a mistake, and she’ll make others.”
Kris nodded. “The partial fingerprint, and the fact that I got a look at her.”
“And she pissed me off,” Adam added.
Kris huffed a laugh.
“Can we have one of those side-by-side shots?” Tommy said.
Mike dug out one of the photos from his file and handed it to Tommy. Tommy looked at it, then climbed over Isaac to get out from behind the table and disappeared into his bunk. He reappeared with some of the putty they used to tack up photos of family onto the walls of their bunks. Tommy used it to tack up the photo of the police sketch of Adam’s stalker side by side with a capture from the security video right next to the bus door.
“What’s that for?” Adam said, uneasy.
“To remind us to be careful every time we leave this bus,” Tommy said, standing back and surveying his handiwork. “And so we can be on the lookout for her before she finds any of us.”
Sound check was good, but not great; to Adam it almost felt like they were all trying too hard. After the meet and greet Adam was escorted back to the dressing room they were all sharing. As he opened the door he overheard Kris clearing the air with the rest of the band and paused to listen. He heard Kris admit that, while he’d joined the band with an ulterior motive, everything that had happened after that, the friendships he’d formed with each of them, had been real.
“Even Adam?” Tommy asked.
Adam panicked at Kris’ hesitation, but his heart soared when Kris softly said, “Especially Adam.”
“Do we need to have the shovel talk?” Isaac said.
“Don’t hurt him,” Tommy said. “Or . . . .”
Isaac mimed digging a hole with a shovel. Kris’ eyes went wide.
“I’m not gonna hurt him!” Kris said.
Adam entered the room and shut the door loudly behind him. “You guys leave him alone. And there will be no shovels,” he said, smiling to take any sting out of it.
Kris’ smile when he saw Adam lit up his face. Not even his casual, “Hey,” could disguise his happiness at seeing Adam.
“Hey,” Adam said back, unable to keep a goofy smile off his own face.
“Oh geeze,” Isaac said.
“I feel a diabetic shock coming on from all the sugar in this room,” Tommy said.
“Shut up,” Kris and Adam both said.
The show that night went off without a hitch. Adam was feeling almost giddy when they took the stage. They still played some songs off his first album, including ‘Fever’, which his fans seemed to love. Adam had stopped needing to thumb his nose at the conservatives that said he shouldn’t exist because of who he loved by kissing Tommy every night, but sometimes he liked to surprise his fans with one.
Tonight he stopped beside Tommy when the song started, and looked him over lasciviously. The crowd went wild in anticipation. Instead of staying in that spot so he could kiss Tommy at the usual place in the song, however, Adam shrugged and offered Tommy a little wave as he moved away. Kris gave Adam a questioning look, and then his eyes went wide when Adam headed in his direction, his intention written all over his face.
Once the audience figured out what Adam had planned, their screams were deafening. Adam gave them a look that invited them to share the moment with him, and then he bent his head and claimed Kris’ lips. The problem with kissing Kris was that, once he started, Adam never wanted to stop. Kris’ fingers skidded across the strings of his guitar and Adam missed his cue when he deepened the kiss.
“Shit,” Kris moaned softly when Adam finally released his lips. “How about a heads up next time?”
Adam laughed huskily. “Where would be the fun in that?” He turned back to the audience, still laughing, and found his place in the song, asking Kris, instead of some nameless, faceless guy, “Would you be m-mine?”
“We’re not supposed to be separated,” Adam said as he pulled Kris into his bed.
Kris laughed. “I don’t think this is what Mike meant.” But he didn’t resist.
Kris’ lips were already swollen from Adam kissing him silly at every opportunity he could find since the show ended. First, backstage before the encore because Adam had been riding an adrenaline high – from finally doing something about his stalker instead of letting other people handle it for him, from having announced his feelings for Kris to the entire world (and then again accidentally to Kris and the rest of his band), from the kiss on stage, and from just being on stage, sharing his music with his fans, and receiving their energy in return. Kris had made a surprised sound when Adam pulled their sweaty bodies together and claimed his lips, and after that the sounds he made were much more interesting.
Adam had also cornered Kris when he was trying to remove the make-up he’d worn on stage, even if it was just eyeliner and cover-up for the bruise on his cheek, and then again at the barrier where they were signing autographs. Adam had draped his arm over Kris’ shoulders and they’d posed for pictures, and then Adam gave in (not that he took much convincing) to the raucous demands for another kiss. Kris was breathless and flushed when Adam released him.
Back on the bus Adam had juiced up the last of his supply of vegetables and made a mental note to find a health food store at their next stop. He offered some to Kris, who wrinkled up his nose and popped another Triscuit into his mouth. They all gathered in the lounge and watched *True Blood*, chatting quietly and just decompressing. When the episode ended Adam took Kris’ hand, pulled him up from his seat, and led him into the bedroom.
There was a mad scurry as everyone suddenly needed to be elsewhere, which gave Kris’ skin a ruddy glow. Adam slid the door shut and they were alone, finally. So much had happened that day, that waking up with Kris that morning seemed so far away.
They stretched out on the bed and Adam pulled Kris into his arms and they just lay there, their warmth seeping into the other, their breaths evening out until they were breathing together. All of the tension Adam hadn’t even realized he’d been holding on to melted away. Adam pressed a kiss to Kris’ temple and, with the scent of Kris filling his senses, he fell under.
Adam didn’t know what woke him, but early morning light shone through the pulled curtains when he slitted his eyes open. Whatever it was had woken Kris, too.
“Time ’s it?” Kris mumbled.
“I don’t know,” Adam said. “Where are we?”
“Don’ know,” Kris said.
Adam poked him. “Go look.”
Kris squirmed and batted ineffectually at Adam’s hand. “You go look,” he grumbled.
Kris opened one eye and fixed Adam with a baleful glare. “How do you figure that?”
Kris was speaking in complete sentences, which was a good sign. Adam shrugged. “But you are tinier, so it’s easier for you to get up and go look.”
Adam grinned at Kris’ sputtering. Kris Allen was adorable when he first woke up. How was Adam only just now learning this?
Adam’s poking and prodding finally got Kris moving, if only in self-defense. He crawled over Adam and pushed aside the curtain to look out the window.
“What do you see?”
“A road,” Kris said unhelpfully. “Now a parking lot. Oh, a rest stop. Somebody must have had to take a dump,” he added. “Which isn’t a bad idea, since we’re stopping anyway.”
Kris climbed off the bed, shoved his feet into his sneakers, and then he and his bedhead disappeared out the door. Adam sighed and followed Kris, pulling a hat on over his hair first. Maybe they’d be able to go back to bed for some cuddling of the naked variety when they got back on the bus, Adam consoled himself.
Naked cuddling was not to be, however. Luckily they’d hit up the Dunkin’ Donuts inside for coffee because Mike stopped Adam before he could grab Kris and retreat back into his bedroom.
“We got a break overnight,” Mike told him.
The others waited to hear what Mike would say next, though Cale seemed to already know. He’d seated himself at the table and opened the laptop. After tapping a few keys he passed it over to Mike.
“Your fans are ridiculous,” Mike said. He nodded towards the bench. “You might want to have a seat for this.”
Adam slid in with some reluctance, not entirely sure he wanted to see whatever it was Mike was going to show him. Kris slid in next to him and Adam gratefully took his hand.
“Twelve people recognized her face from video posted two years ago and contacted the police. Unbelievable.” Mike shook his head. “But good for us. This is just the relevant clip.”
Mike hit play and Adam watched a recording of himself meeting his stalker, smiling at her, talking to her, putting his arm around her to have their photo taken. Adam shuddered.
“This may be when it started for her,” Mike said. “A smile, a kind word, some gesture that took on more importance in her mind than it actually held.”
Adam was glad when the short clip ended. “Where was this?” he asked.
“Cleveland, during your first tour,” Mike said.
“We’re going to be in Cleveland in a couple of days,” Tommy said.
Mike nodded. “And I’m betting she will be, too. We’re already in touch with the radio station that held the Q&A last time. They’re checking their files to see if they still have a list of people that attended.”
Adam’s hand shook a little bit and Kris gave it a squeeze. If they learned her name this could almost be over. Adam squeezed back.
“Come on,” Kris said. “We’re going to be on the bus a little while longer. Let’s go lie down.”
“I don’t think I can sleep,” Adam said, even as he followed Kris, leaving his coffee and the video behind.
“We’ll just cuddle,” Kris said.
(They were all so thrown by the news Mike had just shared with them that Tommy didn’t even make gagging noises at that offer.)
Turned out, cuddling with Kris fully clothed was as good as the naked cuddling had been, just in a different way. Kris Allen was an awesome cuddler – another tidbit that Adam filed away.
The radio station didn’t keep records from that far back so they were unable to get her name from that event. What they did have, though, was the list of people attending the M&G this year. The police and Mike’s team were taking even more care running those names. They were also able to get a much clearer photo of her from the M&G video, and it had gone out to the police and major news channels without an indication of where it had come from – they didn’t want to alert her to the fact that they expected her to show in Cleveland, but if they could catch her before then, that would be great. A nice quiet traffic stop, Kris mused. Or jaywalking. When he imagined her getting hit by their bus in an ironic twist of fate, Kris shook his head to clear away the negative thoughts.
Kris sat on Adam’s bed with a book he’d been trying to read. Adam had been restless since they’d found out, unable to relax enough to sleep unless Kris was with him. Adam twitched and made a sound in his sleep. Kris gently pushed his fingers through Adam’s hair and he settled back into sleep.
Kris closed his book – he wasn’t getting anywhere with it anyway – and set it aside. He slid down on the mattress and curled up next to Adam. Kris closed his eyes and tried not to think about what was going to happen after this was all over. Adam had said some things before, but that had been while he was taunting his stalker. Kris didn’t know how much of it was real, because Adam hadn’t said any of it to him. Sure, he’d let the L-word slip that once, but they’d never talked about it again. Adam had even said he wanted to go on a date, but Kris didn’t know if he’d still feel that way when this was all over, and even if he did, would it work out? Adam might want to forget everything about this awful period in his life, including Kris.
Still sleeping, Adam’s arms found Kris and pulled him in close. Kris brushed his thumb over a batch of freckles on Adam’s shoulder, bared by the tank top he wore, and then pressed his lips to them before resting his head on the pillow next to Adam’s once more. Kris fought to keep his eyes open. He wanted to remember every moment in case he never got to experience it again.
They spent the night before the Cleveland show in a hotel, but nobody really got any rest. The thought of what was going to go down the next day kept everyone awake. Adam was jittering like a man who’d had way too much caffeine, and Kris wasn’t much better – he felt under-prepared and over-invested, which wasn’t a good combination. They were so off their game that Adam didn’t even try to take advantage of the privacy afforded by the hotel room to, well, take advantage of Kris.
They all ate breakfast together the next morning before Adam, Kris and Mike left for the radio station. Cale stayed with the rest of the band on the bus and the van followed (at a safe distance) their car to the station. Matt was already there when they arrived. A laminated ID card with the radio station logo hung off a lanyard around his neck and he stood at the door checking photo IDs against the list of attendees. A camera had also been installed to snap a photograph of each person as they entered the room and compare their faces to the photos of Adam’s stalker they had on record.
In addition, all of the actual employees of the radio station working the Q&A had been shown a photo of the woman believed to be Adam’s stalker so they would recognize her if she showed up (though with strict instructions to neither approach her, nor alert her). Working with local police, they’d come up with a plan to separate her from the rest of the attendees so there wasn’t a chance of anyone getting hurt when they took her down.
Unfortunately, all their planning was for naught because she didn’t show up at the Q&A. Kris, however, remained vigilant, as did Mike, and he gave Adam huge props for being able to sound and act normally. Adam sang two songs between question and answer periods, and then they were taken into another room for the photos. Even though the stalker wasn’t among them, Kris didn’t relax until the final picture had been taken and the last fan escorted out.
Everyone was jumpy, as if waiting for the other shoe to drop, so Kris was glad when sound check finally rolled around. They all played hard, as if they had a lot of nervous energy to burn off. Afterward Kris went to the venue early with Adam and Mike for the meet and greet. Alexis was there, acting as a representative from Adam’s management team. This time it was she that checked photo ID against names on a list. Kris was on pins and needles – if they didn’t catch her here, their last opportunity would be when she tried to enter the theater. There would so many people then that it would be nearly impossible to spot her, so they’d have to rely upon the cameras alone.
Kris stood at the back of the room, trying to appear casual as he leaned against the wall. He watched Alexis exude just the right amount of all-business attitude with a welcoming smile. Some of Adam’s fans recognized him, whispering and pointing him out to others, but Kris stayed back. He kept his eyes on the crowd straining to fill the room. Kris deflated as the crowd thinned out and the last of the attendees straggled in.
They’d all been so sure she’d be there! That she wouldn’t be able to resist the opportunity to be close to Adam again at the very place they’d first “met”. Kris sighed and pushed off the wall. He’d been apart from Adam long enough. (Adam thought so, too, if the overheard, one-sided conversation between he and Mike were any indication.) Just as he turned to leave, Kris caught a glimpse of something familiar out of the corner of his eye.
“She’s here,” Kris’ mouth said before it had even fully registered in his brain.
“Where?” Mike asked into his ear.
He’d lost her and it took Kris a few precious seconds to find her again. (In his ear Mike was trying to keep Adam calm.) She’d changed her hair – colored and cut it, or wore a wig – but there was something about the hard line of her jaw that sent a shudder through Kris. “Dark hair at the door,” Kris said as he headed towards the back of the room instead of exiting out the side door as he’d originally intended.
Alexis didn’t react to Kris’ statement at all, just continued to smile and check IDs as if they hadn’t all just gone on high alert.
“Found her,” Matt said, and then there was a moment of silence during which Kris held his breath. “It’s her,” Matt said a moment later, after the computer beeped to confirm her identity, and Kris felt a surge of adrenaline.
Matt gave everyone on coms a description of her, right down to the little butterfly barrettes in her hair. Steve appeared seemingly out of nowhere and stood behind her. “Is this everyone?” he said to Alexis, playing his part to perfection.
“I believe it is,” Alexis said. “Tamara Hilson?” She smiled at the last woman in line.
Kris recognized that smile – it was the same one Alexis wore when she was getting ready to fleece Kris at poker. (Even though they played with Skittles, it still hurt.) Kris could hear Matt talking to himself as he typed in her name and ran it through their computer.
“Tamara Hilson was cleared,” Matt told everyone.
Kris could picture him leaning forward as he studied the information they’d gathered, brim of the ever-present fedora he wore nearly touching the screen, his brow furrowed in concentration.
“She’s married with two grown children. More importantly, she was holding her daughter’s hand while she gave birth at the time that lovely ‘gift’ was left outside Lambert’s gate. Even more importantly, Tamara Hilson is 6'2".”
The woman at the door was 5'6" if she was an inch.
“That woman is not Tamara Hilson,” Kris said, turning his back on the crowd so they wouldn’t see him talking to himself.
“Where is Tamara Hilson now?” Mike asked.
After some more tapping Matt said, “The GPS on her phone places her in Dallas, Texas. Also, we have her download history – not a single Adam Lambert song in the bunch, if you can believe that blasphemy.”
“If she’s not a fan, why’d she buy a meet and greet pass?” Cale mused.
“She didn’t,” Kris said, covering his mouth and pretending to cough.
He was close enough now to overhear the woman’s answer.
“No, sorry,” she said. “Sandy King with the Cleveland Music Weekly. I’m here for an interview with Mr. Lambert.” She pointed imperiously to the ID badge clipped to her suit jacket that identified her as said Sandy King with the Cleveland Music Weekly.
It was a good tactic – act like you know what you’re doing, that you’re where you’re supposed to be, and other people will tend to believe it.
Matt typed some more. “There is no Cleveland Music Weekly. And nothing that’s a close match.”
“And per Judy, no one by the name of Sandy King, or anyone from a local newspaper, scheduled an interview,” Megan said.
“I’m so sorry,” Alexis said. “I wasn’t informed. But isn’t that par for the course?” she added conspiratorially.
This woman, whoever she actually was, had used Tamara Hilson’s identity to purchase a M&G pass. Why then, wasn’t she using it? Why was she trying to pass herself off as an interviewer?
“The gentleman at the door sent me back to wait,” the so-called Sandy King said.
It was a lie, Kris knew. Only people holding M&G passes were being allowed inside the venue. If anyone purporting to be an interviewer had arrived, the person at the front door would have checked before allowing them in; they certainly wouldn’t have let them come back alone. So she’d used the M&G pass to gain entry, but then switched her cover story. Why? The meet and greet would allow her to get close to Adam, to speak with him, to have her picture taken with him. But that wasn’t enough – she needed something else.
“She wants to be alone with him,” Kris said.
It made his stomach roil as he imagined what she’d do to Adam if that ever happened.
“Well, then, let’s make sure she thinks she’s fooled us,” Mike said. “Get her to beta room.”
Adam was safely ensconced in the dressing room, designated alpha room, (along with the rest of the band, Cale, and Mike), but they had a secondary secure location in case they needed it. That’s where the woman calling herself Sandy King would be taken.
“Steve,” Alexis said. “I’m going to turn this over to your capable hands.” She handed the clipboard to him. “We have one no-show, but she might come in late.”
Steve took the clipboard. “I’ll keep an eye out.”
“Ms. King.” Alexis turned to address Sandy King. “If you’ll follow me I’ll get you settled.”
Between the two of them, Alexis would appear the least threatening. Sandy King might even think she could take her in a fight if she had to, but Kris knew for a fact that she’d be wrong. (Alexis had been one of Kris’ hand-to-hand trainers; he had firsthand experience as to just how good she was.)
“It’ll be about an hour,” Alexis told her as they walked out. “I hope you don’t mind waiting.”
Kris couldn’t hear the woman’s response, but he could imagine the thrill she was feeling at being so near to her goal. So near to Adam. Kris slipped out the side door as Alexis told Sandy King to make herself comfortable and help herself to any of the refreshments.
“I’m going in,” Kris said.
They had a partial fingerprint and Kris’ ID of her, but those could easily be discredited by a good defense attorney. They needed more. They needed a confession.
“Kris,” Mike said warningly. He couldn’t say anything else without Adam overhearing and reacting badly. Kris was glad the rest of the band was there to keep Adam safely inside the room in the event he did find out what Kris was up to.
“I don’t want her getting off,” Kris said. “Right now all we have is my say-so, a partial fingerprint, and some suspicious behavior. I can get her to say something incriminating. I just need someone to wire me up.”
Mike sighed. He knew Kris was right, but he didn’t like it. “Anoop?”
“On my way,” Anoop said.
“Be careful,” Mike said, and then he set it up.
Kris couldn’t hear Adam, but he knew that Mike was probably getting an earful right then. Anoop taped a wire to Kris’ chest, ripping off hair and making Kris’ eyes water before he had it situated properly, while Alexis went in to prime the woman, telling her that Adam was going to stop by to say hi before going in to the meet and greet.
Kris nodded to let Alexis and Anoop know that he was ready. He opened the door and stepped inside the room where Sandy King waited. She’d been staring at the door, fanatical zeal in her eyes. When she saw Kris her eyes narrowed, but her gaze moved beyond him, looking over his shoulder for Adam, still hopeful that he’d appear despite the fact that Kris was there.
“Adam’s not coming,” Kris told her.
Hate-filled eyes pierced Kris, but she didn’t speak.
“Did you really think I’d every let him near you after everything you’ve done?” Kris went on. “That would make me crazier than you.”
Finally, a reaction. Her hand began an aborted move towards her side and then dropped. She very pointedly didn’t glance towards the purse she’d left laying against the arm of one of the sofas. Kris, on the other hand, made a point of looking right at it.
“What’s the matter, left the syringe in your bag?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said.
“You made a mistake,” Kris said, ignoring her comment. “You were careless. You’d been so careful before, not leaving any DNA behind, no fingerprints. No witnesses.”
Kris could tell from her eyes that she wouldn’t leave any witnesses behind if given a second chance. Luckily he had back up this time and she wouldn’t be able to make another attempt on his life.
“I’m just here to interview Mr. Lambert,” she tried again.
It might have been believable if her eyes hadn’t glittered with hatred and madness.
“Adam doesn’t want to talk to you. Not now, not ever. Even if he wasn’t already spoken for, and, you know, gay,” Kris said, “he would never be interested in you. First you send him all those letters, which was just creepy. And then you hurt that poor defenseless animal. You threaten his friends. And you tried to hurt me. Adam will never forgive you for that, much less ever love you. He hates you. He thinks you’re disgusting. He wants to see you locked up for the rest of your life so you can never bother him again . . . .”
She finally broke, all of the hatred she held for Kris exploding out of her. “That’s not true! That is not true! He loves me! We’re soulmates! You are nothing to him!” Spittle flew from her mouth. “He’ll realize that we belong together. I just need to see him, talk to him. He’ll believe me.”
Kris shook his head sadly. “So delusional.”
Sandy King took a deep breath and visibly calmed. “But you are right about one thing,” she said. “I should have killed you when I had the chance. Believe me, I won’t make the mistake of leaving you alive again.”
She dove for her purse. Kris dove for her. He hit her low. They hit the floor hard and her purse went flying out of her hand, disgorging its contents. They rolled across the floor. She tried to knee Kris where it would do the most damage and he just managed to deflect the blow. Kris grabbed her wrist to keep her nails from scratching out his eye. Suddenly her weight was gone as Alexis dragged her off Kris. With Anoop’s help she subdued the woman with a knee between her shoulder blades and cuffed her hands behind her back. Unfortunately, that did not keep her silent. Kris tried to ignore her as she spewed out hateful words. Concentrated on the fact that they’d stopped her from doing anything to Adam and had gotten the confession Kris had been after.
Alexis dragged her over to one of the sofas and dropped her onto it. “She’s secured,” she told everyone. “And Kris got her to implicate herself.”
Mike called local law enforcement to take her off their hands. Kris watched as Anoop, gloved up, examined the items that had fallen out of her purse.
“Diabetic kit,” he told Kris when he picked up the small black case. He opened it, showed the contents – two syringes – to Kris. “I bet they don’t hold insulin.”
A small make-up bag held a Swiss Army knife and plastic ties. Kris shuddered. They’d been right – today was the day – and they’d come far too close for comfort. Kris left the room and headed towards the dressing room where Adam waited. He was both eager and reluctant to see him. Mike gave Kris a relieved look when he opened the door to Kris’ knock.
“He’s all yours. I’ll be out here dealing with the local LEOs.”
Brian, Tommy, Isaac, and Cale also bailed as quickly as possible. Kris shut the door behind them, and only then looked at Adam. Who was fuming.
“I am so mad at you right now,” Adam said.
Adam was practically vibrating with the need to touch Kris and make sure that he was okay. When he’d realized that Kris was going to confront Adam’s stalker, the person who had tried to hurt (maybe even kill, though for his own sanity Adam couldn’t think about that possibility) Kris, Adam had been seriously pissed. Mike had assured Adam that Kris had back-up and would be fine. But he’d fretted and worried – and now his nails were a mess. Even hearing that Alexis had subdued and restrained her hadn’t made Adam feel better because it only made him wonder what had happened that required a take down and cuffs.
And now Kris was here, looking a little bit guilty, a little bit defiant, and a little bit sorry. Adam was still mad, but seeing Kris safe was such a huge relief.
“Did she touch you?” Adam asked.
“Um.” Kris shifted guiltily. “To be honest, I touched her first. When she went for her purse.”
Adam tried to not think about what she might’ve had in her purse. “Are you hurt?” he asked.
Kris shook his head. “No, Adam, I’m fine. Really.”
Adam pressed his hand to the side of Kris’ face, and Kris leaned into the touch. “I was so worried.”
“I know,” Kris said. “And I’m sorry, but it really was the only way to get her to . . . .”
Adam pressed his thumb to Kris’ lips, silencing him. He didn’t want to argue over whether it was the only way, or whether it had been necessary at all. He just wanted to assure himself that Kris was alright. Adam dragged his thumb across Kris’ lips, his own breath catching when Kris licked his lips, his tongue brushing the pad of Adam’s thumb. With the hand on Kris’ face, and his own body, Adam backed Kris up until he hit the wall.
“Adam,” Kris started to say. Adam hushed him by pressing his thumb between Kris’ lips, and Kris took the digit between his teeth. He glared at Adam with an expression of indignant irritation, which made Adam want to shake him. Or kiss him. Adam went with kissing him, which he thought would be much more pleasurable for both of them.
Kris made a sound when Adam claimed his lips – eager, relieved – and it touched those same emotions inside Adam. He tipped Kris’ head back and deepened the kiss. Kris clutched at Adam’s back, rutted against his thigh. Adam cupped Kris’ ass in his free hand and pulled him even closer, encouraging him to move against him.
Adam released Kris’ mouth, dragged his lips over Kris’ jaw to his throat, enjoying the sting of stubble and the way Kris’ breath hitched when Adam closed his teeth on the tender skin, the way Kris moaned Adam’s name when he sucked, leaving his mark on Kris. Adam growled deep in his own throat and ground against Kris, pressing him into the wall. Adam panted against Kris’ skin as arousal sang in his blood.
“Fuck, Adam,” Kris groaned.
Adam grabbed Kris’ ass with both hands and lifted. Kris made a sound of surprise, but recovered quickly and wrapped his legs around Adam’s waist. He whimpered when Adam pressed their now perfectly aligned hips together. Adam ignored the first call of his name through the door, but couldn’t ignore the pounding and Tommy’s, “I’m coming in there to get you in thirty seconds!” Adding a soft plea, “ So please don’t be doing anything I don’t want to see.”
Kris whined a protest when Adam stopped moving. Adam pressed his forehead to Kris’ and took a deep breath so he could speak. “What?” he called out sharply.
“The Glamberts are getting restless,” Tommy said.
Shit, the meet and greet. “Fuck,” Adam breathed. Kris made a sound of agreement.
“I’ve gotta go,” Adam said. Kris nodded. Adam slid his hands up Kris’ back and tilted his head for one more kiss.
“Remember where we left off, okay?”
Kris gave a breathless little laugh. “Yeah, I don’t think I could forget.” He tapped the back of his head against the wall and took a deep breath of his own. Adam couldn’t resist moving his hips once more, just to watch Kris’ mouth drop open, hear the sharp intake of air.
Kris gave Adam a beady-eyed glare. “You suck.”
Adam laughed, despite his own discomfort. “Every chance I get, baby,” he said.
Kris actually blushed, even after what they’d just been doing. That was one of the things Adam loved about him. Adam tried to not let his emotions show on his face, but Kris’ eyes went all soft, which led Adam to believe that he’d failed spectacularly. Adam cleared his throat and gently lowered Kris to his feet, being careful not to rub their groins together. He straightened his clothes and took a steadying breath.
“Alright,” Adam said. “Let’s go.”
Kris let Adam take his hand, but then his eyes went wide with understanding. “Wait, what? No, Adam, I can’t go out there like this!” he hissed.
Adam looked Kris over. Everything about him – from the flushed skin and swollen lips to the telltale bulge in his jeans – announced to anyone who cared to notice exactly the type of activity he’d just been engaged in. Adam liked that look on him, liked knowing that he’d put it there, and, if he was honest, liked knowing that other people would also know just who’d gotten him into that disheveled state.
“Yes,” Adam said, stroking his thumb over the inside of Kris’ wrist just enough to distract him. “You can.”
The meet and greet went slowly at first, but it was Adam’s own fault. When they’d stepped into the room and Adam’s fans had gone wild at the sight of him, Kris had looked like he might rabbit at the first opportunity. Adam had pulled him close and pressed his lips to Kris’ ear. “If you even think about leaving my sight, I’m going to handcuff us together.”
Kris had made a sound that he tried to hide, but Adam had heard. After that the only thing he’d been able to think about, even when he waved and smiled at his waiting fans, was how he could get his hands on a pair of cuffs. Eventually Adam threw off those thoughts – it wasn’t fair to his fans to only give them half his attention for the short while they spoke.
By the end of the meet and greet Adam was practically giddy – for the first time since he’d received the first letter from her, Adam knew exactly where his stalker was. He didn’t have to look over his shoulder and wonder if she was here at the meet and greet, whether she’d be in the audience for the show, or be one of the many fans asking for an autograph when he stepped outside.
After the last fan had been escorted out Adam went over to where Tommy had been keeping Kris company. He threw his arms around Tommy and gave him a smacking kiss, and then scooped Kris up and gave him a kiss that took both their breath away.
Kris studied Adam’s face when Adam released his lips and frowned. “Are you high?”
Adam laughed. “You know, I think I am! I feel . . . free! I didn’t realize how much she was weighing me down.” All his attempts to ignore her, to not let her affect his life, and still she’d done so.
Kris smiled in understanding and Adam gave a sheepish shake of his head. “It’s nice knowing she’s not out there somewhere.” Just waiting to make her next move, planning to hurt someone else that Adam loved.
Kris hugged Adam, buried his face in Adam’s neck and held on. For the first time Adam realized that Kris hadn’t tried to wriggle out of his arms once since he’d swooped him up. It gave Adam a warm, fuzzy feeling in his chest to know that Kris was content to be held by Adam, and to hold him in return. It was times like this that made Adam believe this thing between them was real and would last beyond the end of the tour.
The moment was interrupted by Mike’s approach. “Cale says dinner’s been delivered, and you’d better hurry if you want any. Apparently Isaac is famished.”
They didn’t waste any time returning to the bus, where the camaraderie of his touring family only intensified the warm fuzzies Adam was feeling.
Adam couldn’t keep his eyes off Kris the rest of the night. Through hair and make-up, and getting into his stage clothes, Adam kept glancing over at him. Whether Kris was arguing good-naturedly with Tommy, shimmying into the tight jeans Adam made him wear on stage, checking Twitter, or glancing back at Adam, it made Adam’s heart swell with happiness to have Kris there.
Adam was wild on stage. He didn’t have more energy than usual, but he felt lighter, so the energy went further. In his mind he was a balloon; previously he’d been filled with air, but now he was filled with helium and flying high. His fans – his band, Kris – were his tether back to earth.
Adam glanced at Kris when the opening notes to ‘Fever’ filled the theater. Kris blushed, which made Adam laugh happily.
“I think you all know this song,” Adam told his audience. They roared in response.
Adam danced across the stage, drawing nearer to Kris as he sang. Kris was ready for him this time, but neither of them were prepared for where the kiss took them. Each time Adam thought he could control himself around Kris he was proved wrong. Adam stared at Kris for a second after he broke the kiss; he saw the same wasted expression that must have graced his own features.
Adam whirled away from Kris before he was tempted to kiss him again, feeling, impossibly, lighter even than he had before. He laughed and grinned sheepishly at his fans. Adam didn’t bother finding his place in the song, though he heard Kris’ guitar come back in.
“Sorry about that,” Adam apologized. “I’m going to have to stop kissing Kris on stage . . . .”
The loud sound of disagreement filled the theater.
“Because I always forget myself.”
Screams of approval replaced the earlier disagreement.
“Sorry, guys.” Adam turned and apologized to his band. “Can we start this one over? I’ll just stand over here, as far away from Kris as I can get.”
The crowd lapped up Adam’s banter. He glanced at Kris as he skipped to the other side of the stage. Kris was still a little flushed from their kiss, but he smiled at Adam as his fingers danced across the strings of his guitar the way Adam imagined them dancing across his own skin. Adam made it through ‘Fever’ and the rest of the set without touching Kris again. He even managed to keep his hands to himself when they went off-stage before the encore. And in the dressing room. He also gave Kris a few minutes to unwind on the bus.
Adam bided his time, and when Kris fell quiet, just watching the others talk, nodding here and there when a response was called for, Adam leaned over and whispered, “Do you remember where we were?”
It took Kris a moment to catch on, and Adam could tell the very second when Kris did remember. A little hitch in his breath and a flush creeping up his neck. Adam faked a yawn and stood up.
“Gosh, I’m exhausted,” he said. “Time to hit the sack. Kris?”
Kris’ deer in the headlights expression said, ‘Here? Now?’ but he gamely replied, “Uh, yeah, I could use some z’s.”
Someone snorted. Adam wasn’t sure if it was Tommy, Isaac, or even Cale. Adam ignored them in favor of herding Kris to the nice big bed waiting for them at the back of the bus.
“Adam,” Kris hissed as soon as they were in the room, and then, “Close the door.”
Adam was trying. “Damn door!” he said as the door resisted his efforts.
“What you need is a door you can just kick shut.”
“Tell me about it,” Adam said as the door finally slid closed. He locked it to be on the safe side. “Do you know how difficult it is to slam a sliding door?”
Kris laughed. Adam let himself enjoy the sight for a couple of seconds, and then he tackled Kris to the bed. The laughter cut off as Kris looked up at Adam in surprise.
“Now,” Adam said as he made himself comfortable between Kris’ thighs. “Where were we?”
Kris’ eyes went dark. He dragged Adam down for a bruising kiss and suddenly it was as if no time at all had passed since he’d had Kris pressed against the wall, their bodies moving against each other.
“What’s wrong?” Kris said.
They’d been lying on Adam’s bed, letting the sweat cool on their skin (except for where they were still pressed together), catching their breath. Coming down from their orgasms and enjoying the afterglow. At least, they had been, until Adam started thinking loudly enough to pull Kris out of said enjoyment.
Adam jerked a little bit, as if he’d forgotten Kris was even there, or thought he was being more subtle than he was. “Nothing,” he said.
“Uh huh.” Kris rolled to his side so he could see Adam’s face. He touched Adam’s belly, where come (his, Adam’s, theirs?) dried on his skin. A reminder of what they’d just done. What Kris hoped they’d do a lot more of, if he was being honest with himself. “If you think I believe that, you need to think again.”
Adam sighed. “I was just thinking about what happens next,” he admitted.
Kris frowned. “Next?”
“Now that she’s been caught,” Adam clarified.
“Oh.” Kris nodded. “You mean, like, the trial, and dealing with the reporters?”
Adam groaned. “Shit, I hadn’t even thought of that!”
“No,” Kris said immediately. “You don’t need to think about that yet.”
But that meant Adam had been thinking about something totally different. Kris couldn’t think of what else Adam might have been worrying about, unless . . . . He was almost afraid to hope. Kris raised his hand towards Adam’s face, touched the tips of his fingers to Adam’s cheek. “Tell me,” he urged softly.
Adam swallowed hard. “Well, your job’s over now, right? I mean, I don’t need a bodyguard anymore, not even a secret ninja one.” Adam tried to smile, but it was weak, a poor imitation of his real smile.
“I don’t know,” Kris said honestly.
There were two more weeks left in the tour, and while Adam’s stalker was now in jail, that brought with it other complications. Right now Mike was dealing with the police – liaising between the various jurisdictions and Adam’s management, and working out a time for Kris to give his statement. Plus there was the issue of reporters harassing Adam once news of the arrest, and the fact that he’d been the victim of a stalker, leaked. And it would leak, Kris had no doubt of that.
“Your management may decide to keep Mike on to handle the fallout,” Kris said.
Adam looked dissatisfied with that answer. Kris was pretty dissatisfied with it, too, because he might not be necessary in that scenario. Secret ninja bodyguards weren’t any use when you needed big burly security. Still, Kris had signed a contract when he ‘joined’ Adam’s band – his undercover status had included dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s so no one would get suspicious.
“I did sign a contract for the entire tour,” Kris said. “Unless you want to teach another guitarist the songs for two weeks.”
“No, I don’t want another guitarist,” Adam muttered.
“Whew!” Kris said lightly. “‘Cause I’ve already reserved tickets for my parents for the Little Rock show.”
That got Adam’s attention. “Your parents?”
Kris nodded, smirked. “My mom’s looking forward to meeting you.”
“Your . . . ? Oh, god, is she gonna kill me?”
Kris chuckled. “No. For some reason she appears to like you. She’s following you and Tommy on Twitter, you know.”
“Oh my god, why didn’t you tell me? Have I tweeted anything inappropriate lately?” Adam’s brow crinkled cutely in concentration.
“She’s got us both on Google alerts, too.”
Adam paled. “Oh. She saw the interview where I . . . .”
“Yeah,” Kris said. “My brother keeps asking me how my soulmate is doing,” he added wryly. “And my dad sent me a copy of a picture he found of the first time you kissed me on stage.”
Adam covered his face with the hand Kris’ body hadn’t trapped. “They are going to kill me! First I endanger you, and then I, I . . . .”
“Ravish me on stage in front of thousands of people with cameras and video recorders?” Kris supplied.
Adam groaned. “Yes.”
“And you didn’t put me in danger,” Kris said, poking Adam in the chest. “I stupidly put myself there.”
Adam looked like he wanted to argue the point, but he didn’t. Kris could tell that he was still unhappy, though.
“Adam, talk to me. Please.”
“I don’t want you to stay just because of a contract,” Adam blurted, as if afraid he’d second guess himself if he didn’t get it out quickly.
Kris’ heart leapt with hope. “Adam, just ask.”
Adam studied Kris’ face for a second, then said, “Will you st–?”
Kris kissed Adam before he got the whole sentence out. Adam made a sound of surprise, but then eagerly kissed Kris back.
“That was a yes, right?” Adam said breathlessly when they parted. “Was that a yes?”
“Yes, Adam . . . .”
Adam rolled them until Kris was on the bottom, Adam’s body blanketing him. “And after the tour, will you . . . ?”
“The beach,” Kris said without having to think about it. “Someplace where we can hold hands and watch the sun set over the water. For our first date,” he clarified when Adam looked confused.
Adam smiled brightly. “The beach, I can do that. What about after that?”
Kris frowned as it was once again his turn to be confused. To be fair, a lot of his blood had already started the trip south.
“The international tour,” Adam filled in.
Kris gaped at him. “You’d really want . . . ?”
“Yes, of course,” Adam said vehemently.
“Are you sure you’re not thinking with your heart, and your, you know, little brain?” Kris curled his fingers around Adam’s ‘little brain’ (which wasn’t all that little right now) to make his point.
Adam reflexively pushed into Kris’ hand, then glared at him. “No, I’m not. Do you really think that I wouldn’t have chosen you anyway?”
“No,” Kris said honestly. “You said it yourself, I don’t look like Tommy, I didn’t fit the ‘look’.”
“Oh god, I was such a pompous ass,” Adam said, dropping his head to Kris’ shoulder. “In case you didn’t realize it, you were everyone’s first choice.” He raised his head and met Kris’ eyes. “Even mine.”
“Oh,” Kris said. “I mean, it’s not like I don’t think I’m good, I know I can play, I just . . . I know I’m not as flashy as . . . .”
“You’re perfect,” Adam said.
“Really?” Kris said, feeling a little bit giddy. “Because I have it on good authority that I’m not your type.”
“And I have it on good authority that you are exactly my type,” Adam returned, smirking.
The smirk went right through Kris to his dick. He drew Adam down into another kiss, one that very quickly grew heated.
“Talk later,” Kris panted when they broke apart to breathe.
Adam nodded his agreement as he rocked his hips into Kris’. “But I’m going to take every opportunity to convince you to go with me,” he said.
Kris didn’t think it would take much convincing, but he was willing to let Adam try as often as he wanted.