Mike closed the guitar case and then sat on the sofa beside Crandall. They swapped giggle weed back and forth for several silent minutes, and when they finished, Crandall pushed up from the sofa and wandered down the hall to his bedroom. He returned with his keyboard.
“What are you up to?” Mike grinned. He felt good, fuzzy, and starting to crave junk food. Watching Crandall move kept Mike from heading for the kitchen.
Crandall answered by shoving sheet music between them.
“Linkin Park?” Mike glanced up from the papers.
“Yep.” Once Crandall set up the keyboard, he took the music back and set it on the rack of the machine. Without saying another word, he started to play My December. Sotto voce, he said, “You get the lyrics in parentheses,” and then he began to sing.
Mike loved the sound of Crandall’s voice. Turned sideways on the sofa, he leaned his shoulder against the back cushion, his entire focus on Crandall – his voice, his mouth, his expression, lost in the passion of singing. Mike could be there or not, and Crandall would put as much emotion into his practice as he could on stage.
Crandall held a long note, glanced at Mike, and then rolled his eyes. He stopped playing and waved a hand in front of Mike’s face. “Are you on this planet? You missed your line, asshat.”
“I like it,” Mike said. “Slower than the original, but Crank, this is piano music.”
“No shit.” Crandall pushed the keyboard stand aside. He stood and headed for the kitchen as he spoke. “There’s an old piano in storage at Blood Moon.” When he returned to the living room, Crandall had a hand in a bag of ruffled potato chips. Tucked under his elbow, he carried a container of horseradish bacon sour cream dip. “Just you, me, and the piano. Do you think you can learn the music?” He jutted his chin in the direction of the keyboard before setting the snack on the coffee table. As he peeled off the safety seal on the dip, Mike slid over into Crandall’s seat and picked up the sheet music.
“Yeah, I can handle this.” He looked up. “What about Beryl and Jon?”
“They get a break before the last song.” Crandall dropped down beside Mike. “It’ll be fucking awesome. You have a decent voice. We’ll bring the crowd down, nice and mellow, and then crank it up for the last song.” He cocked his head, a chip raised in front of his mouth. “Or…two songs.” He shrugged. “One or two. I’m undecided. What do you think?”
“I think Beryl will throw a fit.”
“Already told her.”
Mike raised an eyebrow. Crandall continued to eat, ignorant of his reaction.
“What, exactly, did you tell her?” Mike asked. He grabbed a handful of chips, and then dunked one in the dip.
“I told her she owed me for dinner on short notice, and I was taking it in a set change.”
“I didn’t tell her what the change was. Her bad for not asking.”
Mike laughed, and then continued eating. Once his handful was gone, he said, “She’s going to object when she finds out.”
“It’ll be too late then.” Crandall’s matter of fact deliver didn’t faze Mike any more. “She’ll throw a fit, and I’ll remind her that she fucking agreed. Done, and fucking done.”
With a shake of his head, Mike reached for his beer and said, “It’s never that easy when you spring shit on her like that.”
“Don’t worry about it. You worry about your vocals cue, and learning the music.”
“Yeah, yeah, I got that, man.”
“Uh-huh, right. You blew it just now.” Crandall didn’t look as doubtful as he sounded.
Mike grinned. “I couldn’t help it. You’re too damn sexy when you’re singing.”
Crandall sighed. “It’s a wonder you can keep a beat at all if you’re that easily distracted.”
“Yeah, I know.” He leaned closer to Crandall, his lips near Crandall’s ear. “I look forward to a duet with you,” he said, each word causing his mouth to brush over the sensitive ridges of Crandall’s ear.
Crandall pushed him back. “How about now?”
Mike frowned. “You want to practice now?”
Crandall shook his head. “No, I want to sing a duet.” He snorted a short laugh. “You always call it singing, during sex.”
Mike’s frown turned into a grin, and he snaked an arm around Crandall’s waist. “I love the way you sing in bed.” He nuzzled Crandall’s neck, inhaling deeply. Crandall tilted his head away, and Mike took the invitation, nipping lightly as he tugged Crandall closer. Crandall groaned, and Mike whispered, “Sing for me, just like that.”