Dinner was great. Even though I’d been in this business for a decade, I still loved hearing performer’s stories. Everyone had them, whether it was missed cues, bloopers, or some backstage weirdness. I got an earful about the mishaps in Boston—like the time Nate went on in half a costume because a quick change went wrong. It sounded like these guys had a great time up North. I looked forward to creating new stories in the coming weeks, and hopefully months.
“Okay, guys,” I said as we gathered on the street, getting ready to go our own ways, “see you tomorrow.”
As I headed for the subway, I dug into my pack to find my phone to see what’d been going on in the world over the past few hours. It wasn’t in the pocket I usually put it in, and it wasn’t loose inside either.
It couldn’t be in the restaurant because I hadn’t taken it out. It must be at the studio. At least it was on the way to the train. I’m not totally attached to my phone, but it was my alarm clock and train ride entertainment.
As I approached the studio, the light coming from underneath the door surprised me. The other three doors along the corridor were dark. Was someone still working? I went inside and found Ty going through moves while his phone played on the table in front of him. He was the last person I expected to still be here. The door hinges squeaked and his head jerked in my direction.
“Sorry.” I moved deliberately toward where my stuff had been earlier. “Didn’t expect to find anyone here. I think I left my phone, and I just need to get it.”
“No problem.” He turned off the video playback. “This yours?”
He held up my phone.
“Yeah.” I pivoted to get it. “Thanks.”
“It vibrated a couple times on the floor over there. Seemed better to put it some place safer.” He handed it over. “The stuff Ricky’s got you guys doing in the back is so cool. I couldn’t take my eyes off you, Nate, and Marco in the mirror.”
“Thanks.” Heat rose in my cheeks. I appreciated compliments, but getting one from Ty was way different. “I wish I could say I’d been watching you, but there was a lot to take in today.”
“You didn’t miss anything.” He ran his hand through his hair, as if to try to fluff it up. He sighed. “I’m having a tough time. That’s why I wanted the video. I’m trying to get this down before morning.”
This was an unexpected revelation. Stars rarely admit to having trouble to someone in the ensemble, at least not in my experience. I’d even done shows where things changed if the lead was having trouble.
“Which parts are you having problems with?”
“Pretty much the last seven minutes,” he said, adding a tired chuckle. My pained expression made him laugh a little more. “Exactly,” he continued. “I’ve done musicals, but none with dancing was like this. I get what Ricky’s doing. And, man, just watching him do it, it’s obvious how good it is for the show.”
“Can I see?” I hadn’t clearly seen what Ty’s choreography was, so I was curious.
He handed me his phone and stood next to me as I watched. His shoulder practically touched mine. His scent—the faint cologne and a not-unpleasant smell of sweat—made it difficult to concentrate. Ty was right—the choreography was awesome and all together the group looked terrific.
“Look at you guys.” He leaned in close to watch the screen. “When Ricky’s in it, it’s like it’s a finished piece.”
“It’s the first day.” I handed the phone back. “There’s time to get it. I’m sure it’ll be okay.” What was I doing? Should I be telling him it’s okay? Who knows what Madi and Ricky told him earlier.
“That’s what Ricky said. He and Madi are being gracious about my slowness. He even offered to change it, but you saw it. He shouldn’t change that.”
Ty’s vulnerability made me crush on him even harder. I had to rein it in. I needed to be professional Jeremy, not fanboy Jeremy.
“Can I help?”
The eyebrow over his green, sparkling right eye raised. “You’d do that?”
“As much as I can, sure.” I dropped my pack on the table after I stowed my phone. “Where do you think you’re getting in trouble?”
“I don’t think I ever learned how to move like that. Not to mention the sheer speed in some places.”
Somehow I had to turn off my crush and focus on the work we needed to do. Otherwise, I might explode. He was the hottest guy on the planet as far as I was concerned. It was one thing to be crazy for him from across the studio. It was another to be that way in his personal space.
The smirk spreading across his face was cute. “You’re not doing this to get my part are you?”
“Yes. That’s exactly it.” I matched his sarcasm. “I’m going to spread marbles across the floor so you end up flat on your back and out of the show.”
“Okay, the Showgirls strategy.”
He knew Showgirls. This crush kept getting better.
“It works.” I held his gaze until we both laughed. “Seriously, though, you’ve got a standby and an understudy. I’m not exactly heir to your part.”
“Fair enough.” His smirk morphed into a warm smile. “If you can make me do that,” he gestured to his phone, “then, yes. Please.”
My chest tightened with that smile directed at me. He was a nice guy, and his charm pushed all the right buttons. I wanted to help him, take him for a drink, get to know him, and rip his clothes off—all at the same time.
I nodded and took off my hoodie. “Let me watch this through a couple times to make sure I get it.”
“All right. I’m gonna get a protein bar.”
I pushed play but didn’t get far.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to keep you.”
“It’s fine. I’ve had dinner and didn’t have anything planned.”
I would’ve cancelled whatever I needed to do to stay. He turned on that megawatt smile again making it worthwhile. I steeled my resolve to act appropriately and returned to the video.
I watched three times, sometimes speeding over the simple parts. As it started a fourth time, I propped it up on the table and stepped back, taking Ty’s position. He watched from the side, content in letting me do what I needed to.
I felt his eyes on me. Maybe it was because I could see him in the big mirror, or maybe because his gaze was just that intense.
I went through the dance, keeping up with the video. I missed a couple of things, but that was due to not having it memorized yet.
“You got that down that fast? Fuck me.”
I’d love to.
Thank God, I didn’t say that out loud.
“There are elements that are identical to what I’m doing with the ensemble.” I shrugged. “Plus, I’ve danced for years. I’m used to the demand to pick up moves fast.”
“I’m so in over my head.” Desperation replaced his humor.
“Give yourself a chance. You’ve never sold yourself as a dancer, at least not in anything I’ve seen.”
“You’ve seen me?” He sounded genuinely surprised.
“Yup. Seven times in Central Park. Lost many afternoons in that ticket line. Watched every episode of CyberClear too. You made a great tech geek. Caught most of what you did in the city during your hiatuses, too.”
In the bright studio lights, he couldn’t hide the tint of red that overtook his chiseled facial features. Had I said too much?
“It’s nice to have a fan on my side.” He pushed himself away from the wall and came toward me. “Tell me what to do. I’m in your hands.”
“Let’s break it down from the top.” I put the phone on the table.
We were a handsome couple in the mirror.
Yes, I really noticed that.
We were close to the same height. His wavy, dark hair was a nice contrast to my more straight, floppy look. His physique was what I might look like if I bulked up. My definition was lean versus his that gave you something to hang on to.
We took it slow to make sure he got it. Some moves were more difficult, and this was where it got good for me because I had to touch him to get him positioned. He became a posable action figure—like when I played with my sister’s Ken dolls to make them ballet dancers. Ty’s tight, lithe muscles under my hands felt so good. He was still in the tank top, and I couldn’t touch his shoulders enough.
My cock responded as much as it could inside the dance belt, which thankfully I still wore. He’d never know that I was half-hard, or more, the entire time we worked. He was an excellent student. He worked until he got the basics of each sequence. He’d definitely look better tomorrow.
“Can we stop for a sec?” he asked after we’d been going for an hour.
“Aren’t you tired?” He grabbed his water bottle from the table.
“Little bit.” I shrugging it off.
I truly felt fine. We were going slowly enough that the moves were almost like stretching to me. I might not get enough sleep tonight, but I’d make that up over the weekend.
“Do we need to stop?” I asked. “Your body needs to recover from all this.”
Conflict danced through his eyes. I didn’t know him well, but clearly an internal debate raged in his brain.
“Let’s do this.” I hoped to guide his decision. “Run it at full two more times. I’ll do it with you once, and then you’ll do it again, and I’ll check it with the video. After that, you go home and rest.”
He nodded and looked relieved.
He wasn’t perfect, but he was a lot better. Hopefully muscle memory would sink in more overnight.
“Jeremy, man, I can’t thank you enough. I got further with you than I would’ve on my own.”
We talked as we gathered our stuff. “Glad I could help.”
He reached out to shake my hand. After two shakes, he pulled me into what I could only describe as a bro hug. We squeezed each other tight, and he clapped my back before he let me go.
I blushed. Damn it. If he noticed, he said nothing. As we said our good nights and departed, I debated if I could skip the shower when I got home so I could let his essence just soak into me.
Next Friday: Ty takes Jeremy to dinner as a thank you.
Fun fact: The first professional musical I attended was a touring company of A Chorus Line when I was in the sixth grade. I fell in love with musicals that Saturday afternoon. Since that show, set during auditions for a musical, I've also enjoyed many shows that deal with backstage goings on. This includes movies like All The Jazz, Center Stage, All About Eve as well as shows like Gypsy and Kiss Me, Kate. Yes, Showgirls is in that list too (a truly good, bad movie). I loved writing this romance set in the world of musical theater. (one of my favorite things, right alongside hockey).