Maybe some things are not so terrible after all @beth_bolden #MMRomance
RELEASE DATE: 01.19.19
Cover Design: Cate Ashwood
When Caleb Chance walked out in Detroit five years ago, leaving his band, millions of his fans and his lover behind, Leo knew he could never forgive. Some things, no matter what the cause, are unforgivable. But Leo never expected Caleb to show up again, clean and sober and wanting to get their band, Star Shadow, back together. He definitely never expected to agree to Caleb’s plan. He never expected to confront the love of his life again—or the disaster of his past, the hopelessness of his future, and every terrible thing he’s been carrying inside him. But maybe some things aren’t so terrible after all.
“Can I . . . can I ask that there be no alcohol backstage?” Caleb asked in a small voice.
Benji shot everyone a reprimanding look at this demand, like any of them would dare to make fun of Caleb’s request. If anyone did, Leo knew that not only would Benji make them regret it, he’d extract his own pound of flesh. He wasn’t sure he could ever forgive Caleb for what he did, but he was undeniably proud that Caleb had achieved sobriety and kept it up. It was a feat worthy of his respect.
“Of course,” Benji said instantly. “I’ll make sure of it personally.”
And Benji would, because Benji was just that loyal.
Caleb wrung his hands. “I don’t want you guys thinking I can’t control myself, because I can, but it’s just easier.”
“It’s okay,” Leo said, to his own eternal shock. He’d barely been able to speak to Caleb at all since he came back, but the last thing he wanted was Caleb thinking they weren’t supportive.
The five members of Star Shadow had always had each other’s backs before, and even though so much had changed, that hadn’t—and wouldn’t ever. Caleb, even though he’d been gone for awhile, was still a member of Star Shadow and nothing was going to change that.
Half an hour later, the four of them prepared to leave while Diego teased Max over not wanting to park his new Bentley convertible in Leo’s neighborhood. Leo could only roll his eyes; properties here easily ran in the seven figures, and most of his neighbors owned Bentleys. The houses might be small and some of them might be run-down, but none of them were cheap.
“I heard you saw Maya today,” Caleb said, cornering Leo in the kitchen as he tossed empty bottles into the recycle bin. “Your hair looks good.” There was a glimmer of a smile on his face as he glanced shyly over at Leo.
“Maya is really good,” Leo said stiffly.
“You cut it shorter,” Caleb pointed out.
“Less of a hassle for the tour.”
“I like it,” Caleb said, and even though Leo told himself that it did not matter what Caleb thought, he blushed anyway.
“Seriously, Leo, you look good,” Caleb continued, and he was edging closer to where Leo was standing. Too close. Benji had already left the kitchen and there was nobody left to buffer them. Leo didn’t know how he felt about Caleb getting closer. If he’d hated it entirely, he could have just left, too, but he didn’t hate it. Not entirely.
“Your eyes need to be checked,” Leo said with a self-conscious laugh.
“My eyes are just fine. You could never see yourself clearly.”
“Benji said I looked like Sasquatch,” Leo squawked indignantly. There was a part of him that still wanted—still craved—Caleb’s attention.
He wasn’t sure that part was ever going to die.
“Benji is full of shit,” Caleb said, grinning. “That hasn’t changed.”
“I’m going to have to run more,” Leo said. “Maybe take up something other than half-heartedly swimming around the pool. Otherwise I’ll never make it through the tour.”
“You still look hot.” Caleb grinned, and then glanced behind Leo and he knew exactly what he was staring at.
Then his gaze was back, looking directly at Leo again, and he discovered it felt easier today to meet those green eyes. Maybe he was growing numb, but there wasn’t a part of him that felt numb now. He felt electrified. Electrified by the curve of Caleb’s lips and his cheekbones, and the fact that he still had dimples. Then Leo’s gaze drifted lower, across his wide shoulders, the clearly defined biceps in his tight black t-shirt, and Leo had to swallow hard. It had been so long since he was remotely turned on by anyone or anything, but suddenly he was half-hard in his jeans. He awkwardly leaned against the counter so Caleb wouldn’t realize.
Leo knew they were flirting again, even though it was a huge mistake. Was he ever going to be able to resist their trademark banter?
Caleb glanced down at the counter, and Leo saw that his hand was inching closer to his own. In ten seconds, if Leo didn’t move, their skin would touch.
Leo jerked his hand away. Suddenly, it was just too much. He was too controlled, too needy, too angry, to use Caleb to take the edge off his sexual frustration. It wouldn’t be fair to either of them.
He pulled away from the counter, turning away from Caleb, and hoped that the painful memories he’d just forced himself to relive would calm his erection down.
Caleb looked disappointed, but not surprised.
“Early morning tomorrow with the radio interview,” Caleb said, turning away. “We’d better get some sleep.” He said his goodbyes, skirting around Leo, like he knew he’d pushed him too far.
Almost too quickly, Leo found himself alone in the big house. But he knew Caleb was right, and it was an early call tomorrow for the interview. After flicking off the lights and locking the doors, Leo headed upstairs for bed. He was brushing his teeth when he heard his phone ding.
He meandered over to his bedside table, where he’d plugged his phone in. It was another text from that unknown number that he knew was Caleb’s. Caleb was unsurprisingly persistent.
Leo opened the message, even though he knew he’d regret it. Caleb was also surprisingly blunt, and Leo spent countless minutes perched on the edge of the bed, frozen in time with his toothbrush still in his mouth.
When I see you, it’s like the first time all over again. I’m sorry I got carried away, the text read.
Leo finally got up and, in a trance, went to the bathroom to finish brushing his teeth. When he was done, he stared at the phone again for another long moment. He couldn’t reply to the text—there was a part of him that was absolutely terrified of what Caleb could do to him again. But there was one thing he could do.
Instead of deleting the message, he added Caleb’s number back into his phone.
Beth Bolden lives in Portland, Oregon with her supportive husband. She wholly believes in Keeping Portland Weird, but wishes she didn’t have to make the yearly pilgrimage up to Seattle to watch her Boston Red Sox play baseball. She’s a fan of fandoms, and spends too much of her free time on tumblr.
Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published eight novels and two novellas, with Catch Me, the next novel in the Kitchen Gods series, releasing in May 2018.