Thrown Off Track

1

Teague

Another morning, another starlet’s bedroom. At least, I think it’s morning. It’s dark and Aubrey’s still snoring away, so it could be the dead of night. But there’s a sliver of light coming through the blinds like a cut in the floor. So, yeah, morning. I slip off the side of Aubrey’s enormous bed, which is heaped high with pillows and down comforters because the girl keeps her room—her whole house, really—freezing. I mean, sure, she can afford the electric bills for the cranked-up A/C. She made a shit-ton of money on that action movie last year and she’s got the next two in the pipeline.

But damn is it unpleasant to get out of the squishy bed and stumble around looking for my clothes. At least my cell isn’t dead so I can use the flashlight on it to find my pants. After five minutes of looking around, though, I give up on my left sock. It was a good sock, but not worth having to deal with morning-after awkwardness.

Aubrey’s a cool girl, and I’d like to hang out with her again, but the whole fucking thing, well… It was fine? I guess? Which is never what a person wants to hear about how things have gone in the sack. So, yeah, better off friends, and if there’s a friend of mine whose pants she wants to get into, I will be more than happy to make an introduction.

I’ll call her later with an excuse about having to get to the studio to work and she’ll understand. Most of them do. The ones that don’t? It’s not like it was going to work out with them anyhow. And if I’m being honest, it’s not like it’s ever worked out with anyone before, and I don’t have high hopes for the future.

Which is fine, really. And makes maintaining my image as the bad boy of License to Game easier. “Bad boy” is a loose term since I’m not really much of one, but it’s not as though my competition is particularly fierce. Zane, Benji, Christian, and Nicky are all relatively tame, so it’s down to me. Yeah, I like to party at the clubs, but I’ve never been arrested and don’t do much in the way of illegal drugs except for smoking the occasional weed.

Given that LtG may not exist for all that much longer because of Zane’s stunt on national television that simultaneously won back his girl and launched his solo career, I should probably figure out where the hell I want to go after my career as the Casanova of a boy band is over.

It’s possible I should start by being somewhat more politick and less of an arrogant dick to people in the industry. You never really know who’s going to be able to make you the next big deal. And if I don’t have the force of LtG behind me…well, I still need at least some of those people to give me the time of day. And hopefully help me figure out what to do, since a bassist with a decent voice isn’t exactly something people are fighting over.

Before tackling that, though, I would like to get the hell out of Dodge for sure. I take up my boots from the floor and sneak out of Aubrey’s room, tiptoeing until I ease the door shut with a small snick of the lock.

I don’t have my car with me, but I rarely have my car anywhere. I don’t want to be tempted to drive after I’ve been drinking, and I don’t want to put anyone in the position of having to tell an enormous dude that, no, he can’t have his car keys. I’m not a belligerent drunk, but still. It’s not fair.

There are a few rideshare apps on my phone, not to mention the numbers of half a dozen car services in my contacts. And yet, I don’t want to call any of them. I rarely do and definitely not with the gnawing uncertainty of LtG making me feel ill at ease. I don’t want to be around strangers, especially ones who are going to ask me all kinds of questions about LtG. Which they likely will, as soon as they figure out who I am, and it’s not as though identifying me is rocket science. So I call the same person I always do, because I know he’ll always be there.

Also, even though he doesn’t want to talk about it, we need to. Thanks to Zane jump-starting his solo career by apologizing to the girl he was supposed to be fake-dating on national—okay, probably international—television with a song he wrote for a gig he’s not supposed to have, we all need to map out our futures sooner than we thought. I’ve got some ideas, but I don’t think Christian does. Every time I’ve brought it up, he’s avoided the question.

Flopping into a chair in Aubrey’s living room, I jam my feet into my boots and find my left sock crammed into the toe. Excellent. Bare feet in boots is a recipe for bad smells. Not that I’m exactly a rose bush right now anyway, but no need to make it worse.

After I’m finished lacing them up, I hit the speed dial, knowing Christian’s going to be on the other end in a few seconds flat.

Christian

My cell rings, and I know it’ll be Teague. It’ll be Teague because he went out last night and he had that determined look on his face when I left the bar, like he was going to find someone to go home with if it was the last thing he did. Not that it’s hard for the guy. He’s like a god among men with his bright blue eyes, his sandy hair, and oh, right, being over six-and-a-half-fucking-feet tall. He probably says no to more people than he says yes to, and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to who or when. But that look…

I know what that look means because we’ve all had it on our faces on one night or another. Nick especially can get that look when he wants to get laid. It’s a sight I see often, and he has no trouble finding a bed partner when his libido strikes fast and hard. Benji at least seems to have some interest beyond a roll in the hay with his partners, and Zane did, too. Now he’s with Rowan, though, and they barely come up for air when she’s in town. When she’s not, and he’s not in Lake Placid or going to some race she’s competing in, they text. It’s… I want it to be annoying or gross or something I can sneer at, but I can’t. They really love each other. And like each other. They’re each other’s biggest fan.

That must be nice.

It’s been a while since my last boyfriend, and while we had fun together, I think he liked the idea of me better than he liked actual me.

Teague isn’t like the other guys in the band, though. It’s a weird thought that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but when he gets that look, he almost seems determined to have sex. Whether he likes it or not? It’s like someone going off to fight in a battle they’re not sure is just, but they’re going to do it anyway because duty or some shit. I don’t get it.

And here he is, calling me, because he was successful and now he needs a ride home. I’ve downloaded Uber and Lyft onto his phone, programmed it with taxi and car service numbers, and yet mine is the only number he seems to dial. Why is that? I don’t think it’s because we have to be at Benji’s place for a meeting with Stan in a few hours anyway.

I’m tempted not to answer because this isn’t fair. But I’ve let it not be fair for years now, and if I don’t pick up, he’ll call again, and if I still don’t pick up, he’ll call Benji, and then keep trying to get in touch with me until he’s assured himself I’m fine. Which I am. Totally fine.

It’s not like another little piece of my heart gets chipped away every time I have to go pick him up at some famous person’s house after he’s fucked them silly. After they’ve had a thing I’ve wanted for years and never gotten close to. It’s torture, is what it is, but I can’t bring myself to ignore him, because the truth is, I like Teague. I love Teague. I will take any opportunity to be with him, especially alone with him, and if that means I have to pick him up from a no-strings-attached bonkfest, then I will.

“Teague, Teague, ten thousand leagues. Where are you?”

“The Palisades, Aubrey Hutchinson’s place. I can text you the address.”

Even with me, he talks about his conquests in this boasting kinda way, but there’s a note of self-consciousness to it. One I haven’t wanted to ask about, because I don’t want to know any more about what I want and can’t have than I absolutely must.

“I’ll be there in thirty.”