With a crash of cymbals, the song ended. Crandall prowled across the stage, Mike watching him — one side to the other and back again — while the crowd cheered with cat calls and screams. Like a panther stalking through the jungle, proud and confidant, Crandall worked the crowd with nothing more than a sweaty sway of his body and an amused expression somewhere between exhaustion and elation.
Mike dropped his chin to his chest, loose tendrils of hair falling around his face and hiding his smile. Crandall was a different person on stage. His strength, the power of his voice, he could play the rock star as easily as he could shoot out stinging insults when cornered into being social against his will. More recently, Mike noticed that same strut showing in bed. Not the pacing on the stage, of course, but the confidence and the knowledge that he held the audience in the palm of his hands. Not that Mike objected to being wrapped around Crandall’s little finger – not one bit. He’d never been anything but dominant in his one night stands before Crandall, but with his long-time crush eager to get him naked on a nightly basis, Mike contently gave up control and enjoyed every moment of surrender to Crandall’s demands.
His eyes drifted shut, but after a brief respite, they snapped open and he shot to his feet. To cover his reaction, Mike stretched, lifting his arms over his head and then stretching from one side to the other. As he did, he focused on Crandall, listening to him as he scanned the crowd for a reaction. He silently wished him to move on to the next song, but knew his singer well enough to recognize his warped concept of working the crowd.
“The vampires are still here,” Crandall said. The crowd cheered. Crandall patted the stake holstered at his hip. “I’m ready for one or two, but did you know there are more than thirty of them in this room?” As Crandall turned at the end of the stage, he glanced at Mike and grinned wickedly. He winked before turning back towards the audience, the microphone lifted to his lips. “You like those blood-sucking Fangs, don’t you?”
Beryl stepped into his path as he continued to talk about vampires, from staking them, to how they must use a fuck-ton of cologne to hide the dead, decaying smell of their pathetic existence. If he hadn’t been worried about Crandall pushing some beast over the edge, Mike might’ve laughed at a couple of his jokes.
“Get on with it,” Beryl said when Crandall stopped short to avoid running into her.
“Beryl Peale!” Crandall waved at her and stepped back to center stage. The crowd erupted on cue and, after a flashing dirty look at Crandall promising pain later, Beryl turned to face the audience and played a quick, violent riff across her four-strings.
Drifting closer to the drum set, Crandall grinned at Mike, his back to the audience. “Back off on the vampire stuff, Crank,” Mike said. He hadn’t noticed any of them chomping at the bit, but he didn’t want to risk pushing them to that point. Not here. Not tonight.
“Don’t worry. With Beryl fucking one, we have extra protection.”
Mike scowled. “What does that mean?”
“Get fucking on with it.” Beryl pushed Crandall as she stepped up next to him. “We’re paid to play, not harass the crowd.”
“Yes, ma’am, my dear fucking pain in the ass.” Crandall bowed at the waist and then flipped her his middle finger. He spun around. Into the microphone, he shouted, “Are you ready for some more?”
The crowd cheered and Crandall slung an arm around Jon. The guitarist looked as surprised as Mike at the contact, but he leaned into Crandall and started the intro on his guitar. Even on stage, that was unusual for Crandall, so much that Mike nearly missed his cue staring at his singer, still hanging off of Jon.
The rest of the set passed with no troubles and a lot of support from the crowd, both vampire and human. Mike held his breath at one point when Crandall stood on the edge of the stage singing and reaching out to the crowd. He grabbed the hand of the little redheaded vampire that had invited herself backstage before the show. Mike winced, but Crandall quickly pulled back and put stage between him and the crowd, not missing a word of the song. He didn’t know what she wanted, but Mike knew enough to distrust that pretty face and sweet, not quite innocent smile.
Up Next: Headliners