Excerpt: Sonata

Thirty-six shouldn’t feel old, Ian told himself, watching the dancers dance and the lights blink on and off. Amber liquid shone within his simple rock glass, the napkin underneath blue then pink, green then yellow. The bartender leaned over the bar at the far end of the unit, propping himself majestically, doing his best to highlight musculature and form for the two young twins in front of him. Less than eight feet away, a young body swayed for the one against it in an alluring tease that made Ian’s skin prick with sweat. Only Ian seemed to mind the heat.

The three scotches meandering through his bloodstream should have been easing the tension in his shoulders, not increasing it. Yet even with his jacket off Ian could somehow still feel the constriction of the fabric, as if it were the very thing binding him into his middle-aged hole of an existence.

With a snarl and a frown, Ian reached up to tug his tie down. He should have changed, tried harder to blend in. His clothes screamed out the warning of too-old-to-be-cool and yet still too young to be the daddy replacement the rest were looking for. “Twenty-five or fifty-five, anything in between is simply viral,” Ian’s flamboyant ex used to always tell him. And while Ian would casually roll eyes at the comment and tell Madison he only thought that way because he was an attention whore, Ian couldn’t help but feel that there was more truth to it then Ian wanted to believe. After all, it’s not like the young men were scoping him out. And God knew, the men his own age all wanted babies.

Ian swallowed back a sigh and topped it with the remaining scotch. It was time to go; the bar was only making him feel worse. He waved off the bartender’s attempt at feigning interest in his empty glass and grabbed his jacket off the bar. He tapped his pockets to confirm keys and wallet, pulled the fives out of the pile of change that had been so graciously provided instead of the twenty, (because, hey, just because I’m chatting up two gorgeous young dudes instead of paying the slightest attention to your needs doesn’t mean I still don’t want a tip) and just left the singles.

The washroom was packed with people, none of who seemed to have any interest in the urinals at the far wall. In a club like this, washrooms were made for snorting and fucking. Why owners of said establishments didn’t just say, “fuck it” and put in private rooms was beyond him. Regardless of commotion, privacy or filth, the minions were following the citation to the letter. And while it shouldn’t have—he was well past the age when bathroom sex sounded enticing—the process made Ian’s chest tighten up on him. It was an ache that reminded him that no matter what the excuses were that he was telling himself, the truth of the matter was that he was too much of a chicken-shit to shove a straw up his nose, and too damn boring to be summoned into one of the stalls.

He stood up to the urinal, flipped his jacket over his arm, and caught his own dark brown gaze in the mirror to the left of him. Maybe if he did something about the strands of white creeping into his otherwise dark hair. Maybe if he traded the semi-casual business wear for something more daring. Maybe if he got his eyes touched up and traded in the ever deepening lines for Botox-infused expression-free clarity. Maybe then.

It wasn’t until he was gritting his jaw at his own pity-party and turning his head away in disgust that he caught a similar set of brown that were (Were they?) staring at him (No, flicking past … no … definitely staring.) Recalled fiction pinged the term “root beer eyes” and in that instant Ian finally understood what the author had meant: gold yet brown, highlights and lowlights, warm and beautiful.

From there things just got sweeter: pale skin, shock-blond hair shaved short on both sides with the middle left longer and swept back, his eyebrows and the barest brush of facial hair disproving the blond as brown. A sexy smirk played over the young man’s lips—glossed with a sheer pink, Ian was sure of it—and the only flaw on his skin, a mark Ian wasn’t even convinced he’d call a flaw if asked, was a tiny mole high on the kid’s right cheek.

“Don’t hold eye contact,” internal reasoning seemed to hiss in his ear and Ian instantly lowered his eyes. Yet he found he was fighting himself not to pull them back up again, to check, to see. It was a foolish notion that a pretty kid would be trying to catch his attention and he silently called himself every name in the book for considering it, but he failed in his attempt not to look.

Not that Ian needed to see how close the other man was. He felt it; nudging against his shoulder, leaning into his ear. “How bad do you need that piss?”

Ian opened his mouth to reply and snapped it shut just as quickly. Anything he said would sound either lame or stupid. His breath caught when the young man brushed fingertips down his spine. More so when a finger caught his back belt loop and tugged him closer.

“Do I know you?” was all that Ian was able to come up with.

“Nope,” the man said, smirking at Ian’s reflection. “Perfect, right?”

“I—” and Ian had to stop. Right there. Mid-speech. Because the young man was pushing his hips into Ian’s upper thigh like they were old friends. With benefits.

“Interested?”

“I—” Ian repeated, swallowing on a suddenly dry throat. “Yes?”

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