You’d think out of the two of them, Pia would be the one to resort to hair-pulling. In her defense, it’s not like Stefano has a lot of hair to pull.
Adam knows by now to just leave them be—the last person who attempted to stop them ended up in the hospital. But if anyone asks, they got injured due to an unfortunate incident with a misplaced cable, not because they were stupid enough to try to break up an infamous Toscano-Langone blowout. There’d been a lot of money exchanged, complete with an ironclad confidentiality agreement and the promise that their great grandchildren would still be feeling the consequences if they violated the terms.
Kris coming in to bat his eyelashes at them and smile angelically like he wasn’t a ruthless bitch when he wanted to be had helped things along. That trick works on everyone, though, or Adam wouldn’t have agreed to help this merry band of demented, overgrown five-year-olds get more exposure.
He waves to Paul who’s lounging on the couch and messing with James’ guitar, as if the shouting and crashing around him is perfectly ordinary. For this bunch, it is.
Adam’s eyes dart around the room, checking for a sneaky little man wearing plaid and sighing in relief when one isn’t in sight. He has nothing against Kris. Kris is brilliant, a musician with several Grammys to his name and a respectable career who decided to try his hand at the behind-the-scenes stuff.
Oh, and he’s a vicious bitch.
Looking at him, no one would believe that Kris Allen the manager people whisper fearfully about is the same Kris Allen who has charmed millions with his sweet smile and the rough, raw sincerity of his voice. (His seriously gorgeous ass probably didn’t hurt either.)
Okay, Kris is gorgeous all over. If Adam has enough liquor in him, he’d probably admit that Kris is exactly his type.
That doesn’t change the fact that due to his complete and utter inability to resist the Kris Allen Bambi Eyes, he’s been saddled with the official title of publicist and the unofficial one of wrangler, babysitter and live-in parent.
Like Adam said, vicious. Sneaky, underhanded, deceitful little—
“Speak of the Devil,” he mutters as Kris sidles up beside him, taking in the disaster before them. “Where have you been?”
“Getting things ready for the meeting,” Kris says, peeking up at Adam with a sly smile before it turns into a grimace. “Again? You’d think their boyfriends would do a better job of distracting them.”
Paul’s response is to give him the finger.
Adam laughs, relaxing a bit and leaning back against the wall. “Leave him and James alone; would you want to get in the middle of that?” he asks, nodding towards the wildly gesticulating siblings.
Kris shrugs. “What I want is my house to be in one piece by the time y’all leave,” he says, biting his lip, eyes widening when Pia and Stefano start to get physical, shoving each other hard enough to knock them into his furniture. “Which looks less and less likely the longer I let this go on. Guys! Knock it off!” Kris barks, rushing into the fray; Adam will miss him.
“Where are James and Casey anyway?” Adam asks, sitting down next to Paul to better take in the show. They both wince when Stefano clips Kris on the shoulder instead of Pia; when he gets angry, it’s not at all pretty.
Paul snorts. “Where do you think? Took off for the basement as soon as we got here. They can’t resist the call of the Xbox.”
Adam nods, rolling his eyes. Why did he agree to this again?
“That is it.”
That answers that question.
Kris has pulled them both apart, the two notoriously outspoken siblings silent and still, staring at Kris with wide eyes. Adam can’t tell from this angle, but judging from the vein pulsing on Kris’ neck, the look on his face must be something to see.
Paul, wise man that he is, senses the oncoming storm and takes the opportunity to escape. Pia’s going to have his ass later for abandoning her in her hour of need, but having her pissed at him is definitely the lesser of two evils here. Adam settles back onto the couch, making himself comfortable; watching Kris chew people out never gets old. The band may find it absolutely terrifying, but it’s one of Adam’s few joys in life now.
Kris has a hand on their shoulders, fingers tightly clenched. He slowly lets go, jerking a thumb in the direction of the loveseat; they move without a word, sharing nervous looks as they sit down. Kris takes his time making his way over to them, face impassive. Fano nudges Pia, looking meaningfully over at Kris, trying not to make a sound when she elbows him in the stomach. From the way he doubles over, Adam’s guessing it wasn’t a gentle hit.
“Pia,” Kris says, soft and almost pleasant.
She sits up straight, blinking innocently. “Yes, Kris?” she says, giving him a sunny smile.
“Stop provoking your brother, or I’m giving all the lead vocals to him from now on and making you our back-up singer and resident tambourine player.”
Pia’s jaw drops. “Kris!” she says, wounded.
Kris shrugs. “If you can’t act like an adult then I won’t give you the respect you deserve.” Stefano snickers, badly disguising it with a cough; Kris rounds on him. “As for you,” he says over the pitiful squeak Stefano lets out. “Stop being an obnoxious little brother who lives to annoy his sister, or you and James don’t get your own room on hotel nights anymore.”
His face falls. Adam would find it funny if it weren’t so sad.
“But Kris—” they say in unison, glaring at each other when they notice.
“Shut up,” Kris growls, “go downstairs, get your band mates up here and then we’ll all have a very nice barbeque, like I intended.” He crosses his arms, glowering. “Now.”
Adam lets out a low whistle at how quickly they clear out. “Way to be a hard ass, Allen. Those kids are terrified of you. A remarkable feat considering how cute and cuddly everyone thinks you are.”
Kris plops onto the couch next to him, kicking his shin on the way down. “Shut up, Adam. You try being cute and cuddly after months of those two arguing over any and every thing. You know they were arguing about what they should name Casey’s beard once?”
Adam snorts. “Everyone knows its name is Ronaldo.” Kris glares. “Okay, okay; not the point. The point is,” Adam says, “they’re circus freaks, but they’re your circus freaks. I’m just here to bring attention to them. Positive, not involving accidents that allegedly happened but didn’t if anyone asks attention,” he says pointedly.
“I thought you wanted it the other way around,” he says, smirking. Kris glares, not in the mood to flirt with Adam—for once. “Don’t be like that, baby. Is that what this is? You only want me when the offer’s not on the table? Typical,” Adam sighs, making his face look as forlorn as possible. He sees Kris’ lips twitch, the tension in his shoulders relaxing. “They’re good kids, Kris. There’s a reason you work so hard for them,” Adam says softly, tentatively laying a hand on Kris’ shoulder.
He tips over, laying his head in Adam’s lap and sighing. “I know that. But, damn, are they a headache,” Kris groans, rubbing at his temples. “And stop calling them kids, Adam; you’re not that old.”
Adam pouts, contemplating shoving Kris off of the couch and onto the floor, but he looks so precious lying here, staring up at Adam with big brown eyes and not pulling any of his usual tricks; it’s a nice change. “I’m pushing thirty, Kris. For this business, that’s beyond old. I might as well start making arrangements for my funeral.”
Kris scoffs. “That only counts if you’re a performer. Why do you think I decided to try my hand at producing and managing these nut jobs? My pretty face isn’t going to be around forever,” he says, smiling, crooked little grin that makes Adam want to…do absolutely nothing.
“Oh, you’ll always be pretty, Kris. Even when you get old and finally go bald.” Kris hisses at him in response—an honest to god hiss. “Kitty has claws,” Adam says wryly. “Kidding!” he manages to get out when Kris head-butts him, laughing, and shivers at the feel of Kris’ warm breath on his belly. “I mean it, though; you didn’t get where you are just because you’re cute.”
Kris’ eyes flutter shut, a small smile on his lips. “Flatterer,” he says softly, pressing a kiss to Adam’s stomach, hiding his face there.
Adam gives in to the urge to pet Kris’ hair. He makes a small, contented sound—Adam would call it a purr but Kris probably wouldn’t appreciate that—and sighs, arching into the touch, highlighting the line of his throat. He doesn’t miss the satisfied little smirk on Kris’ face when he catches Adam watching. “There’s the Kris Allen I know and love.”
“The one blatantly coming onto you?” Kris asks, laughing a little.
“You only hit on me when you’re in a good mood,” Adam says absent-mindedly, playing with the soft strands beneath his fingers.
Kris goes still beneath him, smile smoothing out and replaced by a thoughtful look. “So if I were to do something like this?” Kris asks, a hand coming up to rest on the back of Adam’s neck, pulling him down.
“I’m letting you do it, aren’t I?” he says, poking Kris’ forehead.
“Doesn’t this hurt your neck?” Kris asks, avoiding his eyes.
Adam shrugs. “It’s not too bad. This position has a few fringe benefits.” He gives Kris a small smile, his hand slipping lower to cup the back of Kris’ neck, bring him a few inches closer. Kris’ arm comes up reflexively when Adam moves, steadies himself with a hand on Adam’s shoulder as he sits up, bringing their faces level with each other.
“Adam…” Kris says warily, words trailing off when Adam’s thumb brushes against the corner of his mouth.
“You’ve been relentless in your pursuit of me from the get-go, Kris. Since you could give Fano a run for his money in the unintentionally flirting department, I didn’t think you meant any of it, but—correct me if I’m wrong—you’re serious about this,” he says, caressing Kris’ bottom lip, chuckling when his lips part reflexively.
“Yeah,” he mumbles, dazed, staring at Adam like he’s never seen him before.
“Serious enough to kiss me?” he asks, thoroughly enjoying Kris’ confusion. It’s a change of pace for Kris to be the bewildered party. That and Adam thinks that it looks kind of cute on him.
When Kris doesn’t respond, still muddling through whatever’s running through his head, Adam sighs, tugs him that much closer, and kisses him, nipping at his bottom lip until he opens to Adam’s tongue, both of Kris’ arms wrapped around him now. He settles himself a little more comfortably in Adam’s lap, refusing to break the kiss even as Kris maneuvers himself to straddle him, a hand moving up to bury itself in his hair.
Adam lets out a low moan, one of his hands slipping from Kris’ waist to cup his ass, following the gorgeous curve of it and squeezing, debating the wisdom of flipping them over so he can lay Kris out on the couch and go to town on him.
Kris jerks away from him, almost falling right out of his lap until Adam comes back to his senses and steadies him with his hands—one of which is still on Kris’ ass. Adam’s eyes slide over to the source of the outburst, and, fuck his life; it’s the entire damn band.
They’re all crowded in the doorway, somehow managing to fit. Stefano looks like the only thing holding him up is the arm he has firmly wrapped around James’ waist; Casey is just staring at them; Paul seems unfazed—as usual—and Pia is clutching onto Paul’s arm, a hand covering her mouth. James, the apparent source of the outburst, is starting to turn red, a scowl on his face.
“What’s going on here?” he demands, attempting to cross his arms and giving up when he realizes Stefano is in the way and isn’t likely to get out of it anytime soon.
Casey snorts. “I think that part’s pretty obvious. The question here is ‘why?’”
“Yeah, I mean, it’s not like Kris has been throwing himself at Adam since day one,” Stefano says, rolling his eyes. “Obviously, he couldn’t take it anymore and decided to just go for an all-out attack.”
“Nah,” Paul says, shaking his head. “Kris may be as big a flirt as you and an even bigger tease, but he wouldn’t go for the direct approach.”
Pia elbows him. “Don’t take away from their moment. You’re just upset because I have today in the pool.”
“Pia!” the other four shout, making her let out a tiny squeak and take shelter from their glares behind Paul.
Adam looks to Kris, raising an eyebrow in question. The traitor throws him to the dogs and buries his face in Adam’s neck, refusing to turn around. He sighs, moving both of his hands to neutral territory and readjusting their position to something a little less incriminating.
“I don’t need to know, I don’t want to know; just get the hell out of here before Kris spontaneously combusts from all the blood rushing to his face,” Adam says, voice deliberately even.
They all file out of the room obediently, although James looks like he intends to stick around—until Stefano grabs him and forcibly drags him out of sight.
“They’re gone, you big baby,” Adam mutters, pinching Kris’ ass, slightly mollified by the noise he makes in response.
He’s pouting, rubbing at the spot Adam just pinched. “That hurt,” Kris whines, blinking woefully at him.
Adam rolls his eyes. “Not going to work, Kris. You threw me to the wolves. I’m half-expecting James to punch me in the face when we finally join them. Actually, I doubt he’ll wait. He’ll probably come back up here and beat me up.”
“He’s just a bit protective of me,” Kris says defensively.
“The kind of protective that gets people arrested,” Adam mutters. “Look, Kris, we still have to work together. We can’t jeopardize our working relationship like this.”
Kris’ eyes narrow. “Oh, no, you don’t. You do not get to start something like this and then end it prematurely. That is not allowed.”
“You’re hot when you get all pushy,” Adam coos, patting Kris’ cheek.
He turns his head and takes a finger into his mouth, nipping the tip sharply. “Don’t. I can see the wheels in your head turning, Lambert, and I refuse to let them keep going.”
“You do, do you?” Adam asks wryly.
Kris nods emphatically. “I do. We can maintain our professional relationship while figuring out what this is. It’s worth a shot, right?” he asks shyly, looking down instead of meeting Adam’s eyes head-on.
He tips Kris’ chin up and their gazes meet. Adam takes one look at those eyes and melts into a pile of goo that’s willing to promise Kris the entire damn solar system if he asks for it. And, really, this is what got him into this mess in the first place.
“Yeah, I think we’re worth a shot,” Adam says, leaning in to kiss him again, soft and slow and sweet.
He still thinks it’s worth it when another fight breaks out after James punches him in the face hard enough to break his nose.