“I said no Johnny! Besides, no young hottie like that is going to look twice at an old relic like me.” Brett emphasized even as he turned away from the too young twink he was referring to and aimed a glare at his friend.
“Oh, come on Brett! You’re only forty and you’re fit as a gazelle.” Johnny said, giving Brett’s impressive physique a once over.
Gazelle? Brett wasn’t sure where John got that analogy.
“Stop it! We’ve been down that road. I just want to have a quiet drink and go home. Besides, what would people think?” Brett was pretty sure he knew what people would think. Cradle robber came to mind.
Johnny sputtered and then glared back at his friend. “Who the fuck cares what other people think? You deserve someone Brett, even if you don’t think so. And I know you like young guys. Like him!” Johnny pointed at the blonde gyrating on the dance floor.
Well, Brett couldn’t deny the boy, no young man was hot, just the kind of man Brett did like. But he’d be kidding himself if he thought he had a chance with someone like that. He was old. He’d been called gramps, old man, and grandpa by more than one man whenever he made the effort. He was even mortified when he’d been called Daddy once. He was sure as hell not some guy he wanted to fuck’s Daddy. And even after getting over the shock of that name, he was not into being a sugar daddy. He wasn’t rich so some young stud could use him and live off his hard earned money. And to top it off, that kind of rejection could weigh a man down quickly. Besides, he was just too tired for the whole hook-up, one night stand thing. He’d been there, done that for way too many years. Brett wanted someone he could connect with, someone to spend the rest of his life with. And, if he were honest with himself, he didn’t think such a person existed. In all his forty years, he’d never been in love. Never. He wasn’t even sure how it would feel. And, ultimately, he didn’t want someone who was going to fawn all over him if…no when they found out who he was.
“Brett, it wouldn’t hurt you to at least dance with the guy.” Johnny interrupted Brett’s morose thoughts. “And don’t give me that shit about not being able to dance. You forget, I’ve seen you on stage.” He added in a lower voice.
Brett turned back to stare at the young man on the dance floor. “I don’t know Johnny. Looks like he’s plenty occupied at the moment.” Brett’s voice dripped with sarcasm.
Johnny turned and then snorted. “Yea, well, he is hot. So he’s got, what, four guys dancing with him? You can be number five.” Brett could tell Johnny was only half joking.
He turned back incongruously towards his friend. “Are you serious?”
Johnny laughed. “No, you dumbass.” Johnny punched Brett in the arm lightly and then grew contemplative. “Brett, really man. You need to lighten up. Get yourself out there some so you can meet guys. You are never going to find someone if you don’t.” Johnny said earnestly.
Brett’s gaze shifted to past Johnny’s shoulder. “Easy for you to say.” He murmured under his breath as Johnny’s wife walked up to join them, her arm going around Johnny’s slim waist, a look of sympathy on her face. Brett dropped his eyes. He hated pity.
Brett sighed. Johnny and Karla had been together nearly twenty years. Johnny was near Brett’s age, for Christ’s sake! But, as Johnny and Karla had met when they were both in their twenties, it just wasn’t the same scenario. Even Johnny being in a rock band as the lead guitarist hadn’t broken them up. Brett’s longest relationship lasted exactly three weeks. Thank fuck they hadn’t moved in together or Sonny would have stolen him blind, he was sure. Brett’s other friends were the same. He was the only one single anymore. Even Johnny’s brother Jeremy found someone to handle his hyperactive, ditsy self and Brett didn’t think that would ever happen. It didn’t help, that the majority of his years he had to hide what he was, who he was. Something that had nearly destroyed him.
Johnny cleared his throat. “You know, if some of these guys knew who you were, you wouldn’t lack company.” Johnny said hesitantly.
Brett’s head snapped up. “NO! I will not use who I was to snag a man! We agreed years ago. Don’t even think about it!” Brett nearly yelled, then looked around, his face growing hot with embarrassment.
“Ok, ok Brett.” Johnny conceded.
Brett sighed again and lowered his voice. “Besides, I’m not that man anymore, and no one who might find out would want me for just…me. I was falling apart back then John, you know that. You were there. I just couldn’t hide who I was anymore.”
Johnny nodded. “I know Brett. But you’re still hiding. You dropped off the scene, never to be heard from again. I told you how many reporters come sniffing around, even now, wanting to see if they can find out what happened to Drake from me.”
Bret stared at his friend. “You don’t say anything, right?”
Johnny shook his head. “No man, I don’t say a word, just like we agreed. I can’t speak for Shane and Mouse is gone now, but I think you would know if they’d leaked anything.” Johnny said, and then took a sip of his beer.
Brett nodded silently and finished the last of his drink. “Think I’ll head home.” He said quietly, not even sure if Johnny heard him. He stood and grasped Johnny’s arm giving a squeeze. He leaned over and gave Karla a kiss on her cheek. “I’ll see you guys next month.” He said in Johnny’s ear just as a Black Dominion song came on. Brett groaned. Would he never get away from his own voice? Ignoring the music, Brett made his way through the hot, male bodies and finally pushed out the door, thankful that Johnny and Karla were willing to meet him at gay bars.
The fresh, cold air hit him in the face and he took a deep breath. As habit, he glanced around to see if he was being followed. The paparazzi didn’t know who Brett Manchester was, but if they even had an inkling that Drake Knight was standing here, they would be all over him like white on rice.
Drake had been Black Dominion’s lead singer for fifteen long…very long years. Brett had never regretted the music, only that he wasn’t allowed to be himself. No one wanted a faggot for a rock star. Especially one of Drake’s caliber. To numb all that he couldn’t do, all that he couldn’t be, Drake had succumbed to drugs and alcohol. Only Johnny’s hard and persistent care and tough love kept Drake from being another rock star overdose statistic. A fate that had taken Mouse from them nearly seven years ago, about four years after Drake disappeared off the face of the earth. Mouse, aka Dennis Baylor, was Brett’s drummer. He’d gotten the nickname because he was small for a drummer and very quiet. All Mouse cared about was the music and getting laid. Brett always thought Mouse had more courage than him, was stronger, because Mouse didn’t care the gender of his lovers. The drummer would fuck anything. But learning Mouse had taken his own life with a needle had Brett rethinking things.
Brett made his way to his car, noting a few undesirables hanging around the Jag. When they saw him coming they scattered. Not that Brett would have even been a match for even one of them. He was not a big man at 5’ 9” and of slim build. Brett snorted. He never could figure out what Johnny’s thing was about Brett being so fit. Johnny was as straight as they came and been married to Karla for over twenty years. He was also the only one that knew about Drake’s preferences for all those years, and the one band member he reconnected with each month now. Mouse never knew and if Shane knew, he’d never said a word. Brett didn’t have contact with his bass player anymore. Shane was living in Canada, having met and married his soul mate. Brett had heard through Johnny that Shane was up to his fifth kid now. Brett shook his head as he started his car. Shane had been almost as promiscuous as Mouse back in the day, though the bass player had preferred only women. It was really hard to resist when you have beautiful groupies of both genders throwing themselves at you. It was the only reason Brett had ever slept with any women and had found out the hard way, he didn’t like them. But unlike Mouse, he’d never had the courage to take a man to his bed. He could bet there were other progeny running around out there with Shane’s black hair and blue eyes. Maybe even a few with Mouse’s dark brown hair and green eyes.
Black Dominion was Brett’s first and only band. At eighteen, fresh out of high school, Brett had big dreams. Dreams that came true, despite how things ended. Black Dominion was multiplatinum, had played at the biggest venues in the world. They’d even scored a gig for a Super Bowl half-time show. That show was the last they played together. Drake Knight disappeared, never to be seen again. Brett Manchester checked himself into a rehab facility in Paris and never looked back.