Lovers of Starlight, part 2 episode 21 of “The Starlight Trilogy” by Thea Washington
The characters in this story are fictional and not intended to depict the present or future of any individual.
The character “the Rock Star” is based on Adam Lambert.
Most of the videos in Part 2 reflect Lover’s favorite music (R&B, soul).
They were selected to enhance the story but are not required for your entertainment.
Chapter 37 – OUR SPECIALS TONIGHT
Another month went by. Everybody was busy either covering up or setting up or trying to heal or trying to forget.
The Exec was still in L.A., not that he minded. The client’s problem had been solved and he could have returned to New York whenever he wanted. What he wanted, though, was in L.A. and he was not about to leave until he had to.
The firm was curious about his extended visit. Lover had returned to work after three weeks away. When he came back with his arm in a sling, he blamed it on a fall while he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. It seemed to be a popular destination. But his spirit also seemed dimmer again. There were looks between staff. They were beginning to think the Rock Star was some sort of bipolar roller coaster.
The Rock Star was on a promo tour, so some thought Lover’s pain really might be tied to being injured while he was away. That was OK with Lover. He could barely stand to think about what had happened, much less explain it. He still wasn’t sure he understood. The Rock Star’s anger was out of proportion to his pride being hurt. And, as much as he wanted to, Lover couldn’t bring himself to approach him. He was functioning, sort of. He was also actively afraid. He was glad he hadn’t called the police; he didn’t want to make a bad situation worse.
And the Rock Star was glad to be away. This promo tour was kind of last minute, but there were plenty of people around the country who were excited to see him. That talk with the Guitarist hadn’t really helped. His old friend didn’t seem to get it. Neither did anybody else. The only one who did was the Reporter.
“Lover played you,” sneered the Demons through the Reporter’s mouth. “It doesn’t get worse than that, when someone who claims to care about you, love you, manipulates you for their own purposes. And then lies to you about it.” They could barely contain their cruel delight. This boy was good (bad).
That’s exactly what the Rock Star was letting himself believe. And the Reporter agreed with every word. He even went on the tour with him, the Rock Star requesting it from the label. “Rolling Stone” was all for it. One scoop (Starlight) plus two scoops (the comeback) is three scoops (this tour).
Being with the Rock Star meant having his ear. The Reporter made full use of that, too. By the time they got back he’d convinced the Rock Star that not only was he the sole person who really understood him, but that (and how he hated to admit this) he thought he might be falling for the older man. The Reporter hoped he didn’t mind. He just couldn’t help himself.
The Demons were beside themselves. Whoever’d recruited and trained the Reporter was really good, ‘cause this boy was really bad (good).
The tour meant lots of press. Even if it hadn’t, “Rolling Stone” wanted lots of art. Free-lance and associate photographers were everywhere. The Reporter made sure he was often in the shot, sometimes at the Rock Star’s request.
In L.A., the Intern had become quite a fan of “Rolling Stone.” He made sure everybody in the firm saw the coverage of the promo tour. His calls back to the Reporter were overly gratuitous but he got the point across. Lover was miserable and the Exec was always close by.
The tour had been only phase 1 of the plan and the Reporter was ready for phase 2. He wanted Lover to see him with the Rock Star and he wanted the Rock Star to see Lover with the Exec. He and the Intern worked together to make sure that happened.
First on the agenda was a very special dinner. The Intern was still close to his former team members and suggested they celebrate the successful conclusion of that Broadway Client’s experience with the firm. The Exec thought it was an excellent idea. The only problem was, every date they came up with meant that someone would have to miss the celebration. Finally, the Intern offered to forego dinner for a lunch at a later date. (He was so thoughtful.) He even offered to make the reservations. The Reporter paid him a bonus for that one.
Meanwhile, the Reporter and the Rock Star were enjoying their growing closeness but for different reasons. The Rock Star appreciated the diversion; he was absolutely unwilling to think about the possibility that he’d been over the top in his rage at Lover, although he did regret the violence. The Reporter was the willing distraction, thinking ahead to his name on the Editor’s door. When they returned to L.A. and were dropping the Rock Star off at the cottage, he helped take the bags in. Before leaving, he sheepishly asked if he could kiss him “goodbye,” that was if he didn’t mind.
The Rock Star obliged. The Reporter’s kiss was the perfect combination of eagerness and restraint. He barely endured kissing a man but hell, the Editor’s door it was worth it.
After checking in with the Intern and waiting a couple of days, he called the Rock Star and invited him out to dinner, on him. It would be his own, personal way of saying “Thank you” for including him on the tour. He’d talked with the Rock Star while on tour about what their schedules would be like when they got home, so he knew what days would be good. He and the Intern had covered every base. (Actually, “Rolling Stone” would be picking up the tab; they just wouldn’t know it until he submitted his [padded] expenses for reimbursement. That’s how he’d gotten the money to pay the Intern in the first place.)
On the night of the two dinners, the Exec and Lover arrived first. They were shown to the table that had been reserved especially for them. It was placed so that they had a great view of the scenery and the ocean but was far enough away from the door that they wouldn’t be bothered by others coming and going.
Thirty minutes later the Reporter arrived with his dining companion, the Rock Star. They were shown to their table on the upper level. It had been reserved especially for them. It afforded a great view of the diners downstairs, especially those by the windows, and was next to a shelf of decorative plants to provide some privacy.
No one noticed anyone at first. Or so it seemed. The Reporter knew exactly where Lover and the Exec were seated but he wasn’t the one who needed to see them. He’d made sure the Rock Star was seated so he could.
He could see it on his face when he spotted them. He went pale and then flushed. His eyes became slits. You could see the anger rising.
“I can’t believe it. They’re here.”
“Who?” the Reporter asked innocently.
“Him. And that slut from New York.”
The Reporter slowly, hesitantly turned around to see who the Rock Star was referring to.
“Oh, no. Oh, no,” he said. “This was supposed to be for us.” He looked devastated that their evening was evidently ruined. “Do you want to leave? We can leave. It’s OK. I don’t want you to be upset. You’ve been so happy. I just wanted to do something nice for you.”
“No, it’s OK. I’m not going to let them run me out of anywhere. I won’t let them ruin our evening.”
But the Rock Star could hardly keep his eyes off the diners downstairs, especially as it became clear that the Exec was trying to make a move on Lover. He was being smooth about it, too. At first Lover was clearly sad and distracted, something on his mind. But, as the evening progressed, the Exec was able to loosen him up. By the time dessert and coffee arrived Lover was smiling a lot more and even laughing occasionally. The Rock Star could see it in Lover’s eyes. He was enjoying himself.
When they left, the Exec had his hand comfortably on the small of Lover’s back. As he opened the door for him, Lover smiled and thanked him. The Rock Star looked nauseous.
The Reporter thought, “Bingo.” It was time for the second half of phase 2.
Chapter 38 – DO IT AGAIN
The Exec felt like he was making progress. Lover had enjoyed dinner and they’d both had a good time. He was happy he’d been able to lift Lover’s spirits. Lover seemed appreciative for the carefree evening and told the Exec it had been a while since he’d had fun like that. When he dropped Lover off, he made a point of not hinting that he wanted to come in, knowing it was still too soon. Anyway Lover’s shoulder was still sore, but that was OK. It gave the Exec a reason to help him into and out of the car and to open every door. The two old friends carefully hugged at the elevator, the Exec holding on for a moment longer than necessary. Lover didn’t even notice.
The Reporter and the Intern were consulting on the next encounter. Since the Reporter was only pretending to be a gay man, he had no idea where the community socialized. The Intern had some friends, though, who did. They even told him about this one private club popular with the older members of the gay community. It would be perfect for the Rock Star.
The Intern said he felt badly that he’d missed the celebration dinner. Neither Lover nor the Exec had minded actually, but the Intern said he’d wanted to do something so he could express his gratitude and appreciation for them selecting him to work with them on the project. To do that, he gifted them with passes to a private gay club downtown that catered to their age group. It was known for their great dance music and “Oldies Night,” too. Since the two men were open about their sexuality, something supported in the firm, the Intern was happy providing this evening out for them. The passes were for a night when a popular comedian would be performing.
The Reporter told the Rock Star he felt badly that he’d seemed uncomfortable during their evening out and he wanted to make up for that. He’d done his research (via the Intern) and knew a few club names to drop as part of his cover. One that he mentioned was familiar to the Rock Star. It was nice and there were guys there his age. It had been a while since he’d been to a club; in fact, he hadn’t been to one since he’d been back from the mountain and he hadn’t been near one while he’d been up there. It would be good to get out and about. They compared calendars and came up with a night when a popular comedian would be performing.
The Demons nodded in agreement. It was almost too easy.
The night of the club date, the Reporter suggested they go a bit early to get a good table. The Rock Star was happy to follow the Reporter’s lead, glad he knew his way around. They indeed got a great table near the stage and enjoyed a couple of drinks while waiting for the show to start. The Rock Star was recognized by many of the patrons. A few of the “ladies” were especially attentive, flitting about the table and requesting photos and autographs. He was flattered and clearly enjoying himself. The Reporter arranged his face so that he appeared to be happy and proud instead of his real feeling of being thoroughly disgusted.
Not long afterwards, Lover and the Exec arrived. The club was filling up and most of the tables were taken. They found a nice one in the back, though, on the upper level. They still had a clear view of the stage and the tables surrounding it. They made themselves comfortable. The Exec ordered drinks.
Something was going on at one of the tables up front on the main floor. When the adoring crowd thinned, Lover could see what it was. The Rock Star was there with a young man. Suddenly Lover felt nauseous. He recognized him. It was the Reporter from “Rolling Stone,” the one who’d done the articles about Starlight and the Rock Star’s comeback. The one who’d been with him on tour, the one in the photos. The one now throwing his head back and laughing, his hand on the Rock Star’s thigh.
The Exec noticed the change in Lover’s expression. He looked in the same direction and saw the couple at the table up front.
“Do you want to leave?” he asked Lover.
“No, it’s OK. I’ve been looking forward to this evening. Is it OK with you?”
“I’ll do anything you want, go, stay, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re OK. That’s the important thing.”
Lover wasn’t used to someone without an (apparent) agenda catering to him. He’d always been the caregiver. He liked this different role. He had to be in charge during the day at work, responsible for lots of offices, staff and clients. He did it easily and well; still it had been a nice change to hand over the reins to the Rock Star at night, even if their relationship was then centered on the Rock Star and not him. But to have someone who wasn’t kowtowing for a raise or a promotion be nice to him, putting him first and doing things for him, was even nicer. He liked it. He liked it more than he thought he would. It was a new thought, a new way of seeing his role in a relationship, a softer form of power.
The show started. The comedian was great. The Exec kept his eye on Lover, noticing his occasional turn of the head so he could watch the Rock Star and the Reporter. The Reporter was the aggressor but the Rock Star wasn’t shutting him down. In fact, he seemed to be quite comfortable with the grabby young man. There were arms around shoulders, hands casually touching, thighs “accidently” pressed together. The message was definitely “ownership.”