Twenty year old Corey Evans is one-half of 2ICE, the biggest duo on the radio at the moment. Pronounced twice, they're number one on the Billboard charts this week with their latest single. And number one in download sales, with two albums that have already gone platinum, to hear their manager tell it. And currently on their second U.S. tour, which has sold out stadiums across the nation.
Despite this, there's an emptiness inside him which Corey can't seem to fill, no matter how many groupies he takes to his bed. He sees this same emptiness mirrored in the eyes of his band-mate, Ian Coltraine, who drowns his evenings after each show with a bottle of whiskey. Ian's the one Corey turns to when he wakes beside an unknown fan, still asleep in his bed and needs help evicting her. He's Corey best friend, the only person on the tour he can confide in, who he really trusts ...
The one, Corey finally realizes, with whom he is madly, deeply, terribly in love. And he suspects Ian might feel the same.
But his recent string of one-night stands makes Ian cautious about Corey's true feelings. He's wanted Corey for so long, and has watched him go through countless fans in search of ... what? Ian doesn't know. And he doesn't yet believe Corey when he says Ian might be it. Ian hopes so, but can't bring himself to believe Corey's fickle desire won't be gone in the morning.
Can these two young men somehow move beyond Corey's past and Ian's pain to embrace a love they both so desperately desire?
Note: The paperback contains the short stories Render and Encore as well.
Corey pulled back the comforter, exposing pristine white sheets that still looked ironed. Ian hadn't slept in the bed at all. As Corey eased between the covers, the sheets cool on his skin, he frowned and tried to forget about the girl in his own bed down the hall. What the fuck was he going to do about that in the morning?
He didn't know.
Leaning back against the pillow, he pulled the comforter up to his armpits and looked over at Ian, who sat in the chair watching him. Watching him. So he still existed. He was still real, still alive, still here. "The bed's big enough for two," he murmured.
"I'm fine," Ian replied, but suddenly he didn't look fine to Corey. He looked sad and old and alone, and not fine in the least.
With a sigh, Corey rolled his eyes and let a slight whine creep into his voice. "Ian. There's plenty of room." To emphasize his point, he patted the empty space beside him. When Ian didn't reply, Corey said, "This is your bed. I'll sleep on the floor if I have to. Is that what you want? It doesn't matter to me. Just as long as I don't have to go back --"
"Fine." Ian hoisted himself out of the chair and stumbled to the bed. Sitting on the edge farthest from Corey, he kicked off his shoes and glared at the floor. "You happy now? You got what you wanted, Corey. You fucking happy?"
"Jeez." Corey didn't say another word as Ian began to undress, slipping out of his shirt and tugging down his pants until he stood in just his boxers and undershirt. As he reached across the bed to cut off the lamp, his shadow fell over Corey, blocking the light from his eyes. Then the room plunged into darkness, and the bed shook as Ian climbed beneath the covers.
Corey lay on his back and stared at the ceiling, blinking to assure himself his eyes were still open. He waited until Ian settled into a comfortable position before he turned toward his friend, who was rolled on his side away from him. All Corey could see was the slump of Ian's shoulder outlined against the dim glow of the curtains. "Ian?"
"What?" His voice was muffled, his mouth probably buried in the pillow.
Clearing his throat, Corey asked, "Are you mad at me?"
For a moment he didn't think Ian would answer. Then Ian sighed. "No."
Corey released a shaky breath he hadn't known he was holding. "Good."
Now that the lights were out and Ian was just a shadow in the darkness, Corey's mind couldn't stop turning, and he didn't want the silence that surrounded them to get inside. He wanted to hear Ian's deep voice, soft and comforting and slurred, wrap around him and hold him close. He wanted to hear Ian's steady breath drown out the tick of the alarm clock and the sounds of the city beyond the drawn curtain. "Ian?" he asked again.
"What?" Ian replied, gentler this time.
"Talk to me." Talk to me and make me real. Make this real, so I'll be able to look back on it when I'm alone and scared again and know for a few moments at least I existed to someone as just Corey and not anything else. Please, Ian. Please give me that much.
Ian chuckled. "You wanted me to get into bed so we could sleep. Now you want me to talk to you? What do you want me to say?"
"Anything." When Ian didn't answer, Corey prompted, "What were you doing in the lounge?"
"Drinking," Ian said.
Corey grinned. "I know that. What were you thinking about?"
"You," came the soft reply.
"Really?" Corey frowned at Ian's back. "Me? Why?"
Ian sighed. "I don't feel like talking right now, Corey, okay? I just don't."