Beryl knows. Jon suspects. Nica couldn’t know that. She couldn’t. She overheard. She’s guessing. And why the heck did she kiss Crandall??
Having no desire to pick up where the conversation Nica conveniently interrupted, Mike returned to the dressing room door and reached for the handle.
“She’s probably right, you know,” Crandall said.
“Who?” Mike turned the handle, but didn’t open the door. He held his breath as he glanced over his shoulder at Crandall hoping he’d moved on to another line of thought. Sometimes Mike wished Crandall’s conversations came with directional signals. He could easily be talking about Beryl, or some other “she”.
No such luck.
“The Fang,” Crandall said. “Who else?”
Mike stared at Crandall for several seconds knowing full well what his lover meant while, at the same time, “about what?” danced at the back of this throat barely restrained. He could continue to deny it as long as he didn’t ask, and didn’t get the answer he knew to expect.
“About B, and Jon too. They won’t fucking care.” Crandall stepped into Mike’s space, meeting his gaze with that stare that always disarmed Mike. “Just like Dragon and Ash, Mike. They won’t care at all. We’d still play together.”
For any other argument, Mike would pull away, avoid that stare that dug into his soul. For any other argument, he’d weigh the potential outcomes of pushing his side against Crandall’s powerful stubborn streak. He released the handle and leaned against the door. He felt both trapped and teased by Crandall’s closeness.
“Not saying anything isn’t going to make this go away,” Crandall said. “You could shut me up by kissing me.”
Despite his best efforts, Mike smiled, and then he said, “But how long would that really last?”
“Once you tell them, you could use that technique more often. Fuck, even when I’m fighting with Beryl. You might get a lot of peace out of one little confession.”
Confession. Right. Great choice of words. While Father Chris wouldn’t condemn their relationship – and really, Father Chris was the only member of the Church Mike had any contact with – Mike had struggled with his Catholic upbringing from the moment of his first guy crush years ago. Confession is good for the soul, and yet, he’d never revealed his preferences for men, even in that secret booth where the worst that could happen was an assignment of an extra Our Father or three before leaving. To confess to Beryl was out of the question. Even the thought of revealing a long-held secret to Jon, their token laid-back member, seemed more daunting than swallowing instinct to play music at a club full of vampires.
Of course, they were doing just that. Again.
“No,” Crandall said. “You could just say no.” He snorted and stepped back, still staring at Mike.
“Crank… I just can’t…” Mike shook his head, feeling as sick to his stomach as he did when he blurted out their secret in the privacy of the dojo.
“You can,” Crandall said, “but you won’t.”
“Yeah…” Mike reached for Crandall, but the singer walked away, heading for the main room. Normally Crank didn’t go near the public area until club security summoned them to the stage, so watching his lover walk away, taking a crowd over their dead-end conversation, felt like a blade in Mike’s guts.
“Damn it.” Mike whispered the curse with vehemence. He fisted his fingers, digging his nails into his palms. “Damn it, damn it, damn it.” So quiet that he barely heard it himself, Mike said, “You’re right. I don’t like it, but you’re right.”
Up Next: Nothing’s Ever Easy