Water droplets clung to Michael’s clean skin as he flipped through his limited wardrobe consisting of work suits, faded blue jeans, t-shirts, and several pairs of gym shorts. He frowned at the selection.
“Are you having second thoughts about tonight?” Asher asked from the doorway. He had seen this expression on Michael’s face before. It was usually followed by Michael secretly checking out their surroundings to make sure nobody was paying them any attention before stealing a brief kiss or copping a secretive feel.
Asher knew Michael was still uncomfortable going out as a couple, but since tonight was just a couple of friends getting together to celebrate, he hoped Michael would relax and try to have fun.
Michael shrugged his shoulders. “I was thinking that I don’t really have anything to wear to a club. Everything I have here is either way too casual or stuffy business attire.”
“There’s always option three, you can just go stark-ass naked.” Asher teased.
Shaking his head, a damp lock of dark hair fell across Michael’s forehead. “Sure, because that would go over so well, now, wouldn’t it? I can see me trying to explain that, ‘Excuse me, officer, it was my boyfriend’s idea. He convinced me that I was overdressed for the occasion so the only reasonable thing to do was to strip everything off.’”
Asher flushed, hearing the word ‘boyfriend’. Michael had never called him that before. Not wanting to make a big production out of it, Asher simply wrapped his arms around Michael’s waist and pulled him into a tight embrace. “We have plenty of time to stop by your apartment before heading uptown if you want to change. All you had to do was say so, babe,” Asher purred against Michael’s ear.
Michael nodded his head before grabbing a pair of jeans from the closet. “Thanks.”
“No problem,” Asher let his hands roam down Michael’s back as he stepped out of his embrace. They lingered on his cute ass and Asher gave it a quick squeeze before hurrying off to finish getting ready.
Asher’s phone beeped for the tenth time in less than two minutes.
“What the hell does Victoria want now?” Michael grumbled, as he stepped out of the cab ahead of Asher.
“She said they’re already inside the club, but they left our names at the door so we wouldn’t have to wait in line.”
“What did that cost her?”
“That’s a good question.” Asher’s fingers flew over the keys as he typed out a message. Michael walked up to the large bouncer, dressed in head-to-toe black, and gave him their names, “Waters and Burkhart.”
The bouncer glanced at his clipboard and suddenly smiled at the same time Asher’s phone beeped again. Asher’s eyes widened. Michael reached for the phone to read Vicky’s new message, but Asher pulled it away and held it out of Michael’s reach.
“Gentlemen, right this way.” The man unclipped the velvet rope, stepped back from the line, and waved them in with a swish of his limp wrist. The doorway to the club was pitch black. They couldn’t see anything inside, but loud thumping music greeted them at the door. The tempo was fast, and vibrated through Asher’s chest the moment they stepped into the darkness.
Michael entered in front of Asher. Crossing the threshold, Asher felt a light tap to his ass from behind. He didn’t look back at the large man guarding the door, but that didn’t stop the guy from shouting over the music with a heavy lisp, “If you boys don’t come find me later, I’ll be sure to come find you.” He stretched out the last word in a sing-song fashion.
“What the hell was that all about?” Michael leaned closer and shouted over the booming music as they moved further inside the club.
Asher handed Michael his phone. The LED screen illuminated the horrified look on Michael’s face. “That fucking bitch!”
“Calm down,” Asher threaded his arm through Michael’s, but he instantly jerked away from his touch. Not only was the music pounding in Asher’s ears, but now his heart suddenly raced, pumping blood through his veins at the thought of Michael walking away from him. He grabbed Michael’s shoulder and stopped him in the middle of the crowd.
“Vicky was joking,” Asher shouted.
“She told that guy that we would take turns blowing him in the bathroom,” Michael fumed.
Asher’s palms were sweating and he felt lightheaded. The techno-colored lights from the back of the club flashed neon pink and blue across Michael’s face. His anger was frightening. Michael was furious and anyone looking at him would be able to see that.
“I swear to you, Vicky was just playing around. There is no way in hell that guy is gay--”
“How do you know?” Michael cut Asher off.
“That dude doesn’t even register on my gaydar.”
Michael stood there glaring into the crowd. “Really, ‘cause neither did I!”
If Asher hadn’t been watching Michael’s mouth, he would have missed his soft reply, drowned out by the loud music. Michael frowned as Asher inched closer. “Look, babe,” Asher threaded his fingers through Michael’s and when he didn’t pull his hand free, Asher continued. “Vicky has a twisted sense of humor. If I know that crazy bitch, she’s hooked-up with that dude a time or two and sucked his cock dry in the bathroom. She probably knows for a fact that he’s completely heterosexual and only said it to be funny. That’s all, I promise.”
Michael chewed on his lower lip before slowly nodding his head.
“Do you want to stay or go?” Asher asked, leaving the decision up to Michael.
As the song blaring over the sound system changed, Michael started rocking back and forth on his heels to the beat of the music, and when his sexy grin slowly returned, Asher knew they were going to stay. “Good, because I would have killed Vicky if she succeeded in chasing you away.”
Michael laughed. “Ian is already in the dog house, so I guess we can’t have Vicky in there with him, too.”
“Good lord, you’re right, besides, if they are in there too long then Milo will join them and start to decorate.” Asher chuckled at his own joke.
It only took a minute for them to weave their way through the thinning crowd at the back of the club. Ziggy’s shaved head was easy to spot among the table full of women. Asher recognized Victoria’s friend, Madison. The girl came by the bar whenever she was home from college, but the two females sitting on either side of Ziggy didn’t look familiar.
“Sorry we’re late,” Asher said, approaching the table.
Michael locked his eyes on Victoria and cocked a dark eyebrow, “Yeah, we had to make a detour by the bathroom to repay a favor.”
Victoria burst out laughing. She actually snorted and almost dropped her drink. “Oh my god, Ash, not only is he gorgeous, but he’s hilarious, too.” Victoria sputtered between fits of giggles.
Chuckling at Michael’s cryptic jab, Asher pulled out a chair from the large table, allowing Michael to sit down before grabbing his own seat. A scatter of different beer bottles was joined by several shot glasses and a large bottle of Patrón on the table. Ziggy cleared his throat and introduced his companions. “Asher and Michael, this is Kim and Kelsey,” He motioned to the women sitting on either side of him. “They’re sisters.” Ziggy winked before downing the rest of his drink.
Asher shook his head, watching Ziggy puff out his chest, obviously proud of his own prowess. Extending his hand, Asher greeted the girl on Ziggy’s right with a warm, “Hello.”
“Dude, you look awesome for just getting shot.” As soon as her words rolled off her ruby-red lips, Asher suddenly snatched his hand away as if she were a venous snake trying to strike. His free hand clutched his upper arm while the rest of his body trembled.
Everyone stared at his awkward reaction. Sweat beaded his forehead. Asher had never met Douglas Allen’s wife. His mind raced out of control. The room spun. He felt nauseous. There was no way in the world Ziggy would bring that whore here tonight. She was the reason he had almost died. Asher winced and rubbed nervously at his shoulder before forcing a grin to his face.
“Are you okay?” Michael asked.
“I’m sorry,” Asher said as he kept rubbing his tight muscles, “The doctor’s warned me about these phantom pains. He said they’d come and go, but should only hurt for a few seconds before disappearing. It’s nothing to worry about,” Asher lied.
“Like I was saying,” Ziggy gave Asher a questioning look before he continued with his introduction, “This is Kim and Kelsey Green. We meet a couple of nights ago at work.” Kelsey waved from where she was sitting at the other end of the table.
Hearing that the girls were new customers at Chapel Chase eased Asher’s fear. He had tried to remember if anyone was spending an unusual amount of time around Ziggy at the bar before the shooting, but he couldn’t recall anybody out of the ordinary. It was inevitable, Asher was eventually going to face that wretched woman and her evil husband in court; however, he didn’t want to run into her unexpectedly. He wasn’t ready for that surprise.
“Are Ian and Milo joining us tonight too?” Victoria asked, bopping in her seat to the music.
“No!” Asher and Michael both answered at the same time.
“Why not?” Victoria threw Asher a curious glance.
“They’re busy with work stuff.” Asher shrugged his shoulders, brushing off her concern, and thankfully she didn’t press the issue. The conversation steered towards lighter subjects as the group quickly got acquainted.
The music was thumping with a pulse racing beat. Flashes of multi-colored lights swirled around the room. When the music morphed into two current chart-topping hits digitally merged together, Victoria lifted her glass and whooped in excitement.
“So, is someone going to spin me across the dance floor or not?” Victoria’s pout was so fake, Asher could see right through her phony expression with her plump cherry-red lip puckered out twice its normal size.
“It will be my pleasure.” Michael stood and held out his hand to her.
Victoria’s frown disappeared as she jumped to her feet, dragging her friend, Madison, along with her. Kim and Kelsey quickly joined them and within seconds, Michael was surrounded by a mob of beautiful women.
“Jesus, Ash, your boyfriend is a real chick magnet.” Ziggy teased. “I’m glad he’s playing for your team now, or I might have some competition tonight.”
Asher rolled his eyes at Ziggy’s banter. The happy group on the dance floor was laughing and frolicking to the music. Downing his drink in one gulp, Asher stood up and arched an eyebrow at Ziggy. “I think it’s time to rescue my man.”
The evening passed quickly with lots of drinks as the group of friends dance and laughed until the morning hours. Victoria and her friend, Madison insisted that the night was just getting started, but Asher had already celebrated too much to join them at an after hour’s club. Asher’s head was spinning and his speech was slurred.
“I think we are heading back to my place to continue this party in private,” Ziggy called out as he led his two beautiful dates further down the block and away from the group. “I’ll catch you guys later.”
After parting ways with their friends, Michael helped Asher to a waiting taxi outside the club.
“Where to?” The man asked from the front seat.
“Wherever is closer!” Asher said as he grabbed Michael by his collar, pulling him in for a hard kiss, popping the top buttons off his shirt with the action. “I want to fuck you right now.”
“Not here, you don’t.” The driver glared in the rear-view mirror at Michael. “It looks like your friend had too much to drink tonight.”
Michael chuckled and slid the man a fifty dollar bill while Asher continued to bite along his neck. “Take us uptown to thirteen twenty-seven Barton Street. I’ll double that if you can have us there in less than ten minutes.”
An apple a day keeps the.... Oh, Wait!! Wrong Topic!!
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