The moment Hunter entered the club, a wall of music, noise, and smells, including alcohol and sweat, hit him. The place was far more packed than he’d expected. None of his friends who came here for the performances had told him how many people showed up to watch drag queens do their thing.
He’d never watched a drag show in person, though he’d seen a couple on TV. Sure, the queens were beautiful. Some of them were sexy as hell, and knowing they were men under all the makeup and dresses was a surprising turn-on. But Hunter had never planned on going to a live show. He had more important things to do, like sleeping. And staying sober.
Looking around for a place to sit, he spotted a couple of his buddies at a table in a back corner. He approached, and they shouted his name and waved him over. Thank God
. At least he would have a quiet place to sit.
“Hunter! Dude!” Maury patted the chair between him and Ken. “Have a seat. Drink?”
“Ginger ale.” Hunter sank into the chair. He should have known the first thing he would hear would be an offer of alcohol. Even though he had no real desire to drink, he couldn’t help his mouth watering at the thought. It would probably be that way for the rest of his life. Of course, most of his friends didn’t know that until six years ago, he’d gotten so smashed almost every night he’d essentially lost the memories of the five years he’d spent in the bottle.
The alcohol had never washed away the memories he really wanted to lose. That was one of the reasons he’d finally quit. It wasn’t working.
“Just ginger ale?” Ken raised his eyebrows. “You sure?”
“I’m feeling kind of crappy.” It wasn’t entirely a lie. The noise and odors made Hunter’s stomach churn. “Besides, I’m here for an audition, and I have to work in the morning. Better to just stick with soda.”
“You got it.” Maury stood and waded through the crowd to the bar. He returned only moments later with two bottles of beer and a plastic cup of ginger ale.
Hunter sipped the ginger ale and pretended not to notice the alcohol, even when Maury held out a bottle to him. Fortunately the show began before he had to explain why even a taste of beer would have been too much.
For the next two hours, the queens performed individually and in duos, and Hunter watched every move. They danced and lip-synched, but he’d heard through the grapevine that the club was hiring live musicians to play some of the performances. That was why he’d shown up tonight. Apparently a few of the queens could sing and wanted to demonstrate their talents. Hunter was a decent guitarist, and he figured he had nothing to lose by auditioning. It would give him something to fill the nights when the cravings were the worst.
At the end of the show, all six of the queens were onstage, dancing and flouncing to a song by the artist who wore the weird costumes. Hunter was a fan of her music. Regardless of her clothing choices, she sang songs that actually touched him. And the current one was a favorite of his.
The shortest queen, barely Hunter’s height even in five-inch heels, strutted to the front of the stage with her royal-blue satin-and-lace dress swirling around her. Her dark hair was piled and styled ridiculously high and studded with rhinestones. Clearly a wig, but one of the better ones as far as Hunter was concerned. Three of the other queens had gone for cotton-candy-colored hair, and one wore something reminiscent of Marie Antoinette. At least the Blue Queen, as Hunter had begun to think of her, had hair that could almost have been natural.
He understood being outrageous and unrealistic was all part of the deal. It just wasn’t his thing. He preferred reality.
The show ended with dance moves he could only describe as acrobatic, including the Blue Queen dropping into a split so quickly Hunter cringed and covered his package with one hand. If he’d tried a similar move, it would have hurt like hell. Then again, these guys--girls--all tucked, so Blue Queen probably hadn’t hit his package at all.
The last note of the music faded, and the crowd was on their feet immediately. Even Hunter, who was more bemused than entertained. He was glad he’d seen the show. It had been a nice distraction, and the queens were very talented. He just didn’t completely understand the appeal.
The queens took their bows, and the emcee thanked the audience for attending. The stage lights went down, and the rest of the lights in the club brightened enough for people to see around them.
Hunter set down his ginger ale, the fourth of the night. A shirtless waiter had kept the cup filled. “Thanks for the drinks,” he said to Ken and Maury.
“Stick around.” Ken tapped his beer bottle against Hunter’s abandoned plastic cup. “We’re going to head out soon. You can join us.” He leered, making the intent of his invitation abundantly clear.
Hunter pasted a sheepish smile on his face. Threesomes were also not his thing, especially with guys like these two, whose reputations were well-known within their circle. He preferred not to touch any dick, even well-wrapped, if he didn’t know where else it had been. “Sorry. Can’t. I have an audition here, remember? And then home to bed like a good little worker drone so I can do my job in the morning.”
“Man, you have to learn to have fun.” Maury plopped his hand onto Hunter’s thigh. “Come on. It isn’t as if you have to spend the night or anything.”
“Not tonight,” Hunter said firmly. The next step would be to tell the guys to go to hell, which he would prefer not to do. No reason to piss someone off unless they kept refusing to take no for an answer.
“Rain check,” Ken said. “Some weekend we can get together, maybe. When you don’t have to go sleepy-sleepies.” He guffawed. While Hunter had nursed his ginger ales, Ken had downed at least half a dozen beers, and obviously that was four or five too many.
“Sure.” Hunter had no intention of ever letting them cash in their rain check, but it wouldn’t hurt to let them believe he did. Probably by the next day, they would have forgotten propositioning him anyway. “Have a good night, boys.”
He walked away without waiting for a response and headed to his car to take his guitar out of the trunk. The lot was tiny, and his car was crammed so close between two others he wasn’t sure he’d be able to open his door enough to get in. Hopefully by the time he finished his audition, at least one of the other cars would be gone.
Carrying his guitar case, he entered the club through the back door as he’d been instructed when he’d called about the audition. Before the door completely closed, a large man several inches taller than Hunter stepped in front of him. “Performers only.”
“My name’s Hunter Girard.” Hunter held up his guitar. “I have an audition scheduled with Rocco.”
“Stay right here.” The guy backed away, not taking his gaze off Hunter. Hunter stood there as he’d been ordered. He didn’t want to see what the guy would do if he disobeyed.
Laughter and a few rude words came from an open door nearby, and then a small, slight man with short dark brown hair trotted into the hallway. He wore false eyelashes and too much makeup along with breast and hip padding and a pair of sparkling tights. No shoes. No other clothing. He stopped short and stared at Hunter. “Who the hell are you?”
Hunter sighed. He hoped he wouldn’t have to stand there too much longer. He didn’t enjoy having to explain himself over and over. Or at all. “Hunter Girard. I have an audition.”
“You don’t look like a queen, baby.” The guy gave him an appraising look. “Good cheekbones. Pretty green eyes. I can fix you up but--”
“I’m not a drag queen.” Hunter’s face warmed, more because the idea of being in drag was strangely intriguing than because of the guy’s assumption. “They’re auditioning live musicians.”
“Right. Heard about that.” The guy extended his hand. “Starry Daye. Nice to meet you.”
Hunter put the name with the face and outfits of the Blue Queen, and his face grew hotter. Onstage, Starry had oozed sex appeal, even more so than the other five performers. Up close, he had Hunter’s cock at near-full attention merely by touching his hand. The guy was gorgeous with his dark hair and chocolate-colored eyes. He stood a good six inches shorter than Hunter, and through the tights his calf muscles were obvious. Hunter had always been a leg man.
This guy was the closest thing to a wet dream walking Hunter had seen in a long time.
But he wasn’t here to get turned on by a drag queen. He was here to see about landing a part-time gig for something to do and extra cash he could definitely use. He willed himself to calm the hell down and smiled. “Nice to meet you.”
Someone called from inside what must have been the dressing room, “Starry, where’d you put my makeup remover, you bitch?”
“Got to go, sweetheart.” Starry gave Hunter a brilliant white smile. “Good luck with your audition. I wouldn’t mind a live musician one bit if he’s as hot as you.” He spun on one heel and pranced--literally and, Hunter assumed, deliberately--back into the dressing room. “Robin, calm yourself, skank!”
Hunter stood for a moment staring at the doorway, even more bemused than he’d been by the show. Starry made a very attractive woman. As a man, Starry was everything Hunter could want. He wished the guy hadn’t been wearing the breast padding, because he would have loved to see his bare chest.
Great. I come here for an audition and leave with fantasy fuel
. Then again, there were worse people he could fantasize about.
Finally, a shorter man with graying black hair exited a door Hunter hadn’t noticed farther down the hall and came toward him, hand extended. “Hunter?”
“Yes.” When the man reached him, Hunter shook his hand. “Rocco?”
“You got it.” He jerked his head toward the door he’d come out of. “Follow me. Let’s see what you can do.”
Obediently, Hunter followed him down the hall. As he passed the dressing room, he couldn’t resist glancing inside. All the queens were in varying stages of undress, including Starry, who had now stripped down to what appeared to be women’s panties. Complete with intriguing bulge in the front.
Hunter licked his lips and quickly turned his attention back to the man in front of him. If he wanted to nail this audition, he needed his mind on his music, not on some queen’s perfect body and dick.