As soon as the last note sounded, Crandall leaped off the back of the stage, flipped off the members of the main act, and strode down the hall past the dressing room to the back door. He pushed through and into the parking lot, not slowing until he reached Mike’s car. He leaned against a primer-grey fender and scowled into the night.
It took Mike more than five minutes to catch up with him. “What took so fucking long?” Crandall pushed of the car and walked around to the passenger door.
He heard Mike sigh as he slumped into his seat. Staring hard through the glass in front of him, Crandall grinded his teeth and crossed his arms. Mike would try to lecture him and he had no intention of listening to it. As soon as Mike closed his door and shifted in his seat to face Crandall, Crandall turned his glare on Mike.
“Don’t start.” Crandall shifted his gaze over Mike’s left shoulder and out into the scrub that separated the back lot from the road. He had been finding it harder to get really angry at Mike lately. It was fucking annoying as all hell. He dropped his gaze down, to Mike’s knee, for no particular reason other than not wanting Mike to figure out he had that kind of power over him.
“I’m not,” Mike said. “Look, I’m glad you came tonight. It was a great set. The crowd was ecstatic. Didn’t you see that?”
“Of course I did,” Crandall told Mike’s knee. His gaze drifted up Mike’s thigh to his crotch. Crandall loved the snug leather pants Mike liked to perform in. He couldn’t imagine trying to move in them but Mike could and did. A helluva drummer.
“And Nica didn’t come back after you told her to stay away.”
Crandall snorted. He hadn’t been bluffing. He’d have tried his best to stake that bitch if she had ruined his after-show high. Of course, she had anyway, just being around and just considering the risk of having to deal with all that vampire crap again. That delicious rush of endorphins had fled as quickly as he had from the stage. Fucking bitch.
Crandall looked up at Mike. He hated when Mike pressed a point. Make your statement and move on, that was Crandall’s philosophy. Don’t be a dead horse, as they say. “Then why the fuck do I feel just as stressed out as I did before the show?”
He watched Mike’s expression waver. Mike felt bad now, and didn’t that just kick Crandall in the balls.
“Fuck.” Crandall looked away, turning his head so he didn’t have to see it. The disappointment born from Mike’s willingness to do whatever it took to make Crandall happy. It hadn’t escaped his notice. Crandall knew Mike went out of his way to accommodate all his stupid idiosyncrasies. He’d become a great buffer between Crandall and the rest of the world. Crandall appreciated it. He really did. So why’d he fuck things up and make Mike feel bad for not getting it perfect. It couldn’t be perfect. Crandall was too fucked up for anything in this world to come out perfect. Hell, perfect would probably be some kind of science fiction novel, permanently hooked up to a computer, no social interaction whatsoever, and … Well, maybe not no interaction. He still wanted Mike. Fucking Mike, getting under his skin.
When Crandall turned back to his friend, Mike was twisted around looking toward the building. “I’m sorry, Mike. I don’t want to be like this.” As Mike turned back to face him, his expression was complex. Confused? Tender? The two didn’t go together, and Crandall never did get the hang of reading people. He knew Mike better than anyone, and the man still perplexed him often enough.
When Crandall shook his head, confused himself and unsure where his thoughts were headed, Mike reached up with one hand and cupped the back of Crandall’s head, pulling him into a mind-erasing kiss. Crandall swayed forward, yearning to get closer as he welcomed Mike’s tongue with his own, breathing in Mike’s post-performance scent of sweat and adrenaline, and reaching for the thigh he’d been glaring at a minute ago.
Fucking hell. One kiss. Mike had too much power over him, and Crandall wouldn’t change it, even for that world of computers and no people.
When they parted, Mike glanced around again, and Crandall decided to ignore his annoying paranoia this time. That one kiss restored his euphoria of being on stage. He wanted to climb into Mike’s lap and grind up against him until they steamed up the windows and came so hard that Mike didn’t care who saw.
Crandall took a deep breath and trembled as he exhaled. “Take me home,” he said, feeling breathless and compliant and full of near-exploding need.
Mike quirked a half-smile. “Home? No waffles tonight?”
With a snort, Crandall rolled his eyes. Then he fixed Mike with a different kind of stare, one he hoped conveyed how the world would implode if they didn’t get naked and sweaty very soon. “You’re going to need breakfast when I’m done with you. Probably two or three plates.”
Mike’s smirked turned into a full-fledged grin and then he turned in his seat to face forward and reached for the key hanging in the ignition. His expression fell. Crandall followed his gaze to a pink envelope under the driver’s side windshield wiper. His excitement vanished, dropping into a black pit in his stomach ,and he suddenly felt like he was going to vomit out all his internal organs.
“Fucking bitch.” He growled out the words between gritted teeth. His fingernails dug into his palms as he clenched his fists. “I’m going to stake her. I swear, Mike, I’m going to kill that fucking fang.”