Excerpt: Paint, Guns, Money, and Love

The music was loud, and the song was by some tween artist with limited vocal ability, but the beat was good. Nick gave the DJ full credit for taking the less than stellar song and making it danceable.

Nick twisted his hips, turned his shoulders, flung up his hands, and moved his feet to the beat. He was dancing alone, but surrounded by the hundred or so other people in the club moving to the music just as he was, Nick didn’t feel alone. As he moved, other guys would brush against his back temporarily, grinding with Nick’s hips for a few seconds until they moved on in the crowded dance club.

Nick always smiled back at those guys, giving them the full weight of his dark brown eyes lined with darkened lashes and enough glitter to rival the tween singer’s best fantasies. His smile was always welcoming, but the other guys always got the message that Nick wasn’t looking for more than the beat and the feel of his own sweat running down his back.

After hours of moving to the music and a few drinks, Nick always felt recharged and ready to face the world. Being a gay man was hard when you were in the closet for the majority of the week. Only on Friday nights, when Nick put on makeup and spiked up his hair for a night out, did he feel right inside.

Nick knew he had been on the floor for a while and decided a cool down break would be nice. He moved off the dance floor in the direction of the bar.

“Something happy,” Nick told the bartender when the man looked up at him. Nick settled onto a free stool and pulled out his cell phone. It was only eleven, but he was tired. Work had been tough that week and Nick wanted to sleep more than he wanted to dance. He’d go for another hour to work off the alcohol in the bright green drink in a martini glass the bartender handed him, and then head home.

Nick took a quick sip of his drink, tasting vodka and apple, before turning to look around him. The dance floor was as crowded as it always was on Friday nights. The lights flickered and flashed in different colors, illuminating the guys as they flung themselves about in wild abandon and hiding the darkened corners where a different sort of abandon was occurring.

The guy sitting on the stool next to Nick was drinking scotch on the rocks. Nick grimaced and turned to get a better look at Mr. Scotch. He was wearing what must have been carefully pressed slacks when he first put them on in the morning, a collared shirt with a loosened tie around his neck, and absolutely no glitter. Nick clicked his tongue in surprise.

“You don’t seem the type to fit in here,” Nick said over the loud music into Mr. Scotch’s ear.

Mr. Scotch turned to look at Nick, and Nick had to suppress a grin. Nick was practically the opposite of Mr. Scotch, with full eye makeup and lots of glitter. His caramel blond hair was spiked straight into the air with glitter glue. Nick knew Mr. Scotch couldn’t see it when he was sitting down, but the jeans he was wearing were a size too small and although it was sometimes difficult to move in them, in the mirror his bum was a treat. His sleeveless shirt was an artistic mix of see through mesh and multicolored cloth.

The man shrugged and took a sip of his drink. “It’s my first time.”

“It shows,” Nick said teasingly.

The man looked up, startled, and Nick gulped. Mr. Scotch had powerful whiskey-colored eyes and a chiseled face that would fulfill any gay boy’s wet dreams.

“It’s because I’m not dressed properly,” the man sighed. “I knew I shouldn’t have come here.”

“No, no.” Nick waved away the melancholy thoughts of Mr. Scotch and Whiskey. “I mean, yeah most guys don’t come to the club in the remnants of their suit, but it’s mostly your drink. What respectable gay man drinks scotch at a gay club?”

The man’s shoulders shrugged, probably to prevent him from looking sad and defensive. Nick felt a bit bad for teasing Mr. Scotch. It was clearly his first time coming to a club at all, let alone a gay club, and the man wasn’t all that comfortable with the environment. Well, Nick could change that.

Nick downed the rest of his drink, feeling the burn of the alcohol and the apple over taste, before grabbing Mr. Scotch’s arm.

“Let’s dance,” Nick said as Mr. Scotch looked up again. “I’ll show you some moves on the dance floor so when you come back next week you won’t feel as awkward.”

“When I come back next week?” Mr. Scotch asked incredulously. “I don’t fit in here at all. Why should I come back?”

Nick laughed and dropped a ten onto the bar to pay for his drink before pulling the man to his feet. “Lose the tie and unbutton the top few buttons on your shirt and you look just like the after work crowd.” Nick pointed to the bar where a group of guys in similar outfits to Mr. Scotch lounged with their own drinks. “Once you get a feel for the place, you’ll fit right in. And the best way to do that is to dance!”

Mr. Scotch laughed nervously and dropped his own money onto the bar before letting Nick tow him into the mass of gyrating bodies.

“Feel the beat,” Nick explained as he swayed his hips back and forth. “No one cares what you look like or if you have any style. They’re all drunk anyway. All that matters is you find the beat of the song and enjoy yourself.”

Nick allowed his body a bit more freedom to move, showing Mr. Scotch how to find the beat and just live with it. He was awkward at first, but as he shifted side to side, he did so on the beat. All Nick had to do was make Mr. Scotch forget he was in public and let out the joy and freedom of dancing, and Mr. Scotch would never look back.

For the next two hours they danced. Mr. Scotch slowly let loose, his arms swaying and feet moving, rather than kept rigid. They stopped once for a drink break and Nick shared his electric blue concoction with him.

At one in the morning, Nick was tired and he could see Mr. Scotch was too.

“I need to get some sleep,” Nick said, leaning in close on the dance floor so Mr. Scotch would hear him. He had had fun with Mr. Scotch. It was nice to dance with someone who wasn’t looking for sex at the end of the night.

Mr. Scotch nodded in agreement. “That’s the most exercise I’ve had in weeks,” he said with a yawn.

They left the club together and skirted around the line of people waiting to go in until they reached the street. Mr. Scotch called a taxi with his cell phone while Nick stretched out his back in the cool night air.

“Thanks,” Mr. Scotch said with a small smile. “I had fun.”

Nick smiled back. “Me too. That’s the most fun I’ve had in ages. Will you be back next week?”

Mr. Scotch looked thoughtful for a moment before nodding. “I’ll lose the tie and a couple of buttons too,” he added with a sly smile.

“And no more scotch,” Nick added with a nod. Scotch was good for dinner parties or afternoon drinks with friends, not for clubbing.

Mr. Scotch laughed and waved to the taxi pulling up the street. “I’m Luciano D—” he began, but Nick cut him off quickly.

“I think we both went to the club tonight to forget about whatever we are in the real world. So let’s not use names and such that will tie us to whatever we were running from tonight. I’ll call you Lucy. My name is Nick.”

Lucy bit his lip. “If you’re going to call me Lucy then I’m calling you Nicky. It’s only fair.”

Nick laughed. “Nicky it is,” he said as he walked with Lucy over to the waiting taxi. “I’ll see you next week.”

Lucy got into the taxi and Nick turned away to begin the journey to his apartment. A quick twenty-minute walk brought Nick into the residential area of town, away from the clubs and shops. His apartment building was on the outskirts, nice enough to have a working elevator, but not nice enough that the lock on the front entrance always automatically relocked when the door closed again.

Nick took a quick shower to get the sweat, glitter, and hair glue off, before pulling on a pair of loose sweats and dropping into bed. Thoughts of Lucy learning how to dance with a look of such concentration swirled around Nick’s mind as he drifted off to sleep.

It was too bad that Nick wasn’t looking for a boyfriend at the moment, because Lucy was the perfect boyfriend material. Still, Nick thought with a smile as sleep pulled him under, he would be seeing Lucy in a week.

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