Leo finished his cappuccino. He needed a break. From the band, roadies, everything related to his present life. He tried to ignore the constriction in his chest. He hadn’t written anything in months, and that scared the shit out of him. His bandmates were like his brothers, but as much as he loved them, it wasn’t the same as having a lover who completely got
him. He had no one to turn to when in a funk.
He hoped to God he still had more words inside him. For all of his flamboyance on stage, his real love was composing.
Leo paid the check and left. Too wound up to go back to his hotel, he roamed the streets, taking in the Vienna night. Stars sparkled above St. Stephen’s gothic spire. The wide boulevards twisted into narrow lanes perfect for getting lost in.
Happy to wander aimlessly, Leo slipped his hands into his fleece-lined jacket. Living in LA, he’d forgotten how cold winter could be in other parts of the world. He turned the corner and sputtered to a halt. Staring at the poster pasted to the side of a building, he didn’t need to read the name of the virtuoso to know who it was. He could never forget that face in rapture—when playing or getting off. Music and sex had invoked the same feelings in Andre Revele. Passion was passion, and that man had always had both in spades.
Numbness swept across Leo as he stared at the picture of Andre caressing the bow in those slender-fingered hands—such artistic hands on a large man. It had been love at first sight—or at least lust—when Leo had walked into the practice room.
He could still remember a youthful Andre, not quite grown into his robust physique, as he played the last stanza of Bach’s Concerto in E
. The violin’s notes had faded, but the music had remained in the air long after the performance was over. Bright green eyes peered through dark lashes, and sensual, pouty lips morphed into a shy smile. Like an idiot, Leo had been at a loss for words at Andre’s performance and enamored by that handsome face. Until Andre laughed, breaking the spell.
From that day forward, they were inseparable. They both had insatiable appetites for music. They stayed up all hours talking about philosophy and musical composition, and arguing what was better, thin-crust or thick-crust pizza. They played music together, fucked, and enjoyed the simple moments that composed their insular world.
He scanned the poster for the dates of the concerts. Tomorrow night was the last performance. Leo shuffled his feet, unable to move away. He bit his lip and traced the image of Andre. Did he dare go? It had to be fate. He’d been thinking of Andre, talking about the past with Sid, and now this.
His heartbeat quickened. What if he went backstage and Andre didn’t recognize him? Or brushed him aside? Leo had purposely avoided searching the Internet for news of Andre, too afraid that his ex had a lover, or worse, had married. Their lifestyles were miles apart, and Leo could never think of Andre as a friend.
He drank in Andre’s image. Tall and broodingly dark, Andre had the body of a jock and the sensitive heart of an artist. Leo preferred men unlike himself. He’d been a skinny kid, and had a difficult time gaining weight. If he’d been born years earlier, he would have been the perfect face for a glam rock band. At least he’d outgrown the term pretty boy
Leo chewed his lower lip as he studied Andre’s picture. Tempting as it was to see his ex again, visiting the past was a bad idea. This wasn’t the time, not when Leo was restless and bored. His heart couldn’t take a rejection from Andre. There were other men, lots of men, and he’d had his share of quite a few of them. With his schedule it had become impossible to form any long-term commitment. Or at least that was what he told himself.
A big, fat lie.
He’d never met anyone who made him feel the way he’d felt for the violinist.
Leo kissed his fingers and pressed them to Andre’s lips. “Good-bye, Princess.” Andre hated that pet name, but Leo loved using the endearment. Andre had been born into wealth and privilege, and his family had expected great things from him. “You proved them right, didn’t you?”
Before Leo changed his mind, he hurried away, dismissing the memories of a love lost to his ambition.
* * * *
Andre carefully stored his violin in his case and locked it. He wiped his brow with a handkerchief he kept ready in his pants pocket. Tomorrow night was his final performance for the season. He’d been touring for several months, and the dizzying schedule was taking its toll on him. Having a strong constitution made it all too easy for his manger to overbook Andre’s schedule, but when Andre reached his limit, it resulted in excruciating headaches.
“You must rest, Andre.” Steven handed him two aspirins and a water bottle.
Andre waved away the water and dry swallowed the pills.
His manager read him well. They’d been together since the start of Andre’s career. Steven was a godsend. The man could charm a snake, even the snakes in the slimy paparazzi. Andre never had a whisper of a scandal tied to his name. Not even his stormy romance with the great tenor had made it to print. Thank God.
Andre rubbed his jaw and flinched, the faded bruise still tender. Caesar had thought he’d been cheating and had socked him in the chin. When Andre had raised his hands in defense, Caesar’s fist had caught his fingers. Andre had been lucky he hadn’t broken his bones.
Andre sat on the sofa’s armrest while undoing his cufflinks—gold violins studded with tiny diamonds. They had been a gift from Caesar, the man extravagant in all areas of his life. The cufflinks were tossed into a glass ashtray.
Another relationship busted. No matter—it’d been coming to a dangerous head—but having lost at love wrung out his heart. He’d ceased to believe he’d ever find a strong, talented man to stand by his side without challenging him at every turn to see who’d come out on top.
Nothing good ever came of dating someone in his profession. Two virtuosos in a relationship spelled trouble from the beginning.
Andre went to the wet bar and poured himself a shot of cognac.
A hand came to rest on his shoulder. “Are you sure you should drink with that headache of yours?” Steven took the drink from Andre’s hand. “That’s why I gave you water. I’ll be glad when this tour is over.”
“You must miss Helen.”
Steven drank back the cognac and set the snifter on the bar. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say.”
Most likely bitter, but Andre kept this thought to himself. He was happy for Steven, newly married and on his third wife. Helen appeared to be a keeper with her dry wit and understanding of her husband’s nightmare schedule. “You’re lucky. Three’s the charm.”
Christ. What was with all these clichés floating in his head?
Steven flashed his wedding ring at Andre. “Marriage is bliss. Why don’t you date Alicia? Passion isn’t everything in a relationship. Friendship is just as important.”
What the devil? Andre would never date a woman. And he liked Alicia, even though she looked at him with those puppy eyes. “It’ll never happen, so don’t even consider it.”
Steven scratched his head. “I’m getting too old for bribing the paparazzi every time you get into one of your turbulent affairs. Can’t you try to be with a woman? Is it so hard?” He let out a world-weary sigh. “At least Alicia’s sweet-tempered.”
“You make it sound like I can fake it.” Andre smirked. “Anyway, I like men.”
“Yes, well, none of your male friends ever made you happy.” Steven poured himself another shot of cognac. “I need to get out of this business.”
“Don’t even think of retiring. You’re the only person who keeps me sane.”
Steven leaned against the bar. “More like keep you in line. Do me a favor, try to pick a nice guy next time and stay away from musicians. There can be only one princess in a relationship, and you’re it.”
Andre’s heart somersaulted. He rubbed his chest, which had seized the moment Steven called him princess. There had been only one man who had ever called Andre by that endearment. It still hurt to think about Leo. The ass had left him a note, for Christ’s sakes, too much of a coward to tell Andre good-bye to his face. He should have wiped Leo out of his repertoire of bad memories years ago.
Weariness draped over him. All he wanted was to go to bed, throw the covers over his head, and sleep for a month. His pounding temples screamed in agreement despite the aspirin. “I need time off. Clear my schedule for the next couple of months.”
“You’re telling me now?” Steven pulled out his cell phone and scanned the calendar screen. “Well, are you one lucky son of a bitch. Nothing this month, and only a couple of dates scheduled in March. April is blacked out for rehearsals. I can reschedule the March dates. Just be ready for the Kennedy Center.”
Andre scoffed. “When am I not prepared?”
It was February, so this gave him his freedom until the end of April. When did he start thinking of time off as freedom? Usually he enjoyed preparing for a concert. He’d built his sterling reputation by practicing hard and putting in the long hours needed to perfect his art. Nothing else mattered in his life, and sharing his music motivated him to pursue excellence. Yet this schedule had been grueling with only two or three days before each stop. He’d be fine once he’d rested at home.
Three years ago, he’d purchased the lakefront home with its stretching green lawns spilling down to the shore. This time of year the grass would be a blanket of white, and the pine branches would be dusted in snow. There were some benefits to living alone with nothing but the utter peacefulness of winter in the countryside.
He rose. “I’m retiring. Let yourself out.”
Andre walked into his bedroom while removing his bow tie and shirt. He tossed them on the chair. He grabbed his MP3 player off the nightstand and plugged the headphones into his ears. Scrolling through the playlist, he found the song he wanted.
A guilty indulgence he only allowed himself when nostalgic sneaked up on him.
Leo’s silky voice blasted lyrics of love in his ears. Leo had a way of coaxing the best sound out of each instrument, weaving notes seamlessly into music that pulled strong emotions from Andre.
Pure genius. Pure brilliance. Pure Leo.
Andre lay on the bed and closed his eyes, letting the music transport him into a world far from his classical roots. He didn’t usually enjoy rock music, but he resonated to Leo’s songs. The band had classical instruments accompanying them in the background, creating a different sound from the usual rock genre available today.
Andre’s smile came unbidden as he visualized Leo sitting at the piano, his agitated hand brushing through his hair as he chewed the nib of his pencil. Leo would scratch a few notes on his paper, then go back to playing a riff, repeating this until he had an outline of an original classical piece. Andre had the technique and passion for playing, but Leo…Leo was blessed with a special gift. He created amazing compositions that resonated deep within a person.
Too bad they couldn’t have stayed together, Leo creating music for the piano and violin and Andre playing Leo’s music in the concert halls of the world. They would have made a formidable team. But Leo had always fought the lifestyle of a virtuoso, never interested in playing what he’d coined “dead man” music. Leo was too much of a butterfly for Andre’s world. He’d balk at being the proper gentleman and networking with patrons and the upper echelon of society.
Despite their musical differences, they had the same fire and passion for their art. They understood the sacrifices they’d need to make to be successful. What Andre missed most was the excitement Leo had brought into his staid existence. Always one to take a risk, Leo had a way of coaxing Andre into going along with him.
Andre had fallen hard and fast for Leo. He’d believed his love for Leo would last forever, but that kind of thinking he’d left behind years ago. Not that he’d ever consider getting in touch with Leo. Their lifestyles were worlds apart. Too much time had passed, and anyway, the bastard left Andre without saying good-bye.
With an aching heart, Andre popped out his earbuds, silencing Leo’s voice. Hoping to silence the memories.