Title: Tuning It Out
Series: Young Spades #3
Author: Riley Long
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: October 31, 2018
Trick Thomas has it all: a great family, a tight-knit group of friends, and a promising future. Tired of the go-nowhere music scene in Boulder, Colorado, Trick and his up-and-coming indie rock band Young Spades are headed to California with dreams of making it big in L.A. and nothing is going to get in his way.
Noah Reed is inches from finishing graduate school, married to his high-school sweetheart, and gay. Even though they’ve both known for years, Noah’s wife Haley can’t let go of their marriage as she tries to protect her ailing father. Convinced that he will never be able to live the life he knows he wants, a chance encounter at an art gallery leaves him with no choice but to try.
Trick showed up at Noah’s house a few minutes after seven. He’d taken the world’s fastest shower, and had gone through at least fifteen shirts before he’d settled on the right one. He went with the light blue sweater his mom had gotten him a couple of years ago. It was snug, and looked great with tight black jeans.
He stood on the front porch and rubbed his palms on his hips. He was already nervous, had been for hours, but the nerves intensified with each passing minute. He wasn’t sure why he was so worried, exactly. He had totally been doing the hookup thing for years. He’d had a few brief relationships with guys, friends-with-benefits, that kind of thing. Somehow, this felt different.
No. He had to keep reminding himself, he was moving soon, and Noah would be staying put. He wasn’t going to get too caught up in this one.
It was at that moment that Trick realized he’d been standing on the stoop for an inappropriately long time without knocking. He raised his fist. Before he could make contact, Noah’s shape appeared through the decorative pane of glass in the door.
It swung open. Noah was smiling wide, showing off his straight, white teeth. He was wearing a tan, form-fitting thermal shirt that accentuated off his strong body, and his hair was damp.
“Sorry, just got out of the shower.”
He moved aside and Trick stepped into the house, trying like hell not to think of Noah in the shower.
Trick looked around as Noah shut the door behind them. The house was small, the living room barely big enough for the oversized, well-worn couch and battered coffee table. The dated kitchen was just off of the living room, and beyond that, a narrow hallway with several closed doors. One of those had to be the bedroom.
Focus. Trick couldn’t just obsess about sleeping with this guy. At least, not while they were on a date. The beginning of the date.
“I was going to cook, but my last session ran long. I hope takeout’s okay?”
“Yeah, sure, whatever’s fine. I’m easy.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” Noah said, winking, and disappeared into the kitchen.
Trick exhaled with relief. His entire face was flooded with heat. He wasn’t sure why he was so self-conscious and shy around this one. Get a grip.
“With Colby around, my mom has it hard enough planning meals, so I’ve learned not to be picky.” Trick followed Noah into the kitchen. “You need a hand or anything?”
Noah looked up from his work plating big servings of pasta with tomato sauce. “No, I’m good. How old is Colby, anyway?”
Noah added what seemed like a half a loaf of bread to each plate. “Wow. That’s a lot younger.”
“Must’ve been weird, being a teenager and suddenly having a baby brother around.”
Trick shrugged. “Guess so. Honestly, my parents let me move into the basement right before he was born, so it’s not like he was keeping me up at night or anything.”
“Nice. You want anything to drink?” Noah opened the fridge. “I’ve got water, lemonade, cheap beer.”
“Uh, lemonade, actually. Thanks.” No need to get drunk on a first date.
Noah poured two glasses, then handed one to Trick along with an overloaded plate. “Let’s eat in the living room. I don’t really have a ‘dining room’ exactly, so I just eat at that little table.”
Trick nodded and led the way.
“So that basement has been all yours for a long time, then.”
“I’m kind of a hermit, so I like it.”
“Well, you’re in a rock band. How much of a hermit can you be?”
Trick settled onto the couch, lowering his plate and glass to the table. “Indie rock.”
Noah gave him a look, dark eyebrows raised, head tilted to the side. Trick was momentarily distracted by Noah’s hair, which tumbled onto his forehead.
“There’s a difference.”
“Fair enough. The question stands.”
“I don’t know. It’s fun.” He took a bite of his pasta. The sauce was garlicky and sweet at the same time, and while it was delicious, he couldn’t help but wonder if garlic was the best choice for a date-night meal.
“That’s it, just because it’s fun? Then why move to L.A.? Why pursue stardom?”
Trick put his fork down. “I’m an artist. It’s who I am. I like to create. Part of creating things for me is sharing them with people. Music has gotten me through a lot of shit. If I can do that for someone else, y’know, it’s worth it.” He knew the answer wasn’t the standard one everyone handed out, but it was the truth.
Noah was quiet. Trick noticed his hands again, broad and strong, but tonight, they had a little tremble when Noah moved.
“Nothing. That was just really honest.”
“You expected me to lie?”
“No, not at all. That’s not what I meant. I just figured you’d say something easy like, ‘money and fame.’ Not that you wanted to help people.”
Trick felt self conscious, and shifted in his seat. Unsure of what to do next, he shrugged, and scooped a forkful of noodles into his mouth.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to make things so serious.”
Trick shook his head. “It’s fine,” he mumbled, eyes on his plate, his mouth partially full. He swallowed and looked at Noah. “What about you? Working with kids with autism?”
“Same basic idea, really. I want to help kids who can’t always help themselves.”
They both went back to their food, which was almost gone anyway. When they finished eating, Noah took the plates to the kitchen while Trick browsed through streaming services to find a movie. Noah returned with two small bowls.
“Ice cream. Hope vanilla’s okay.”
Trick grinned. “It’s a good starting point.”
It was Noah’s turn to blush a little, and he cleared his throat. “Any good movies?”
“Always.” Noah laughed.
Trick pressed play, and the movie began. Noah turned off the overhead light. Only the glow from the kitchen and TV remained. They watched and ate ice cream, but Trick wasn’t really paying attention. He was focused on Noah, throwing sideways glances at him as often as he could get away with it. He caught Noah doing the same.
Trick took one last bite and placed his bowl on the table, then turned to Noah, one leg tucked underneath himself. Hesitating, he studied Noah for a moment, waiting for a cue. Noah swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing, and broke their eye contact, looking at his ice cream. Trick took Noah’s dish from his hands and sat it next to his own, then shifted a little closer to the other man. Noah ran his hands along the tops of his thighs, then reached toward Trick. Once again, Trick caught sight of the tremor in Noah’s hands.
That was all the encouragement Trick needed. He moved forward, planting one foot on the ground between Noah’s, and kneeling on the couch with the other leg. Noah’s hand slid up Trick’s thigh and onto his ass. Trick leaned in and pressed his mouth to Noah’s, lips parted, hands on his face, pulling Noah close.
Noah tasted cool and sweet—the kiss was anything but. The scrape of Noah’s unshaven stubble on Trick’s face set a fire inside him, and he pressed forward. One of Noah’s hands clutched Trick’s ass, and the free one moved up to the waistband of Trick’s jeans fingers curling around the fabric, nails scratching Trick’s hip.
Trick’s cock strained against his jeans as they kissed, and when Noah’s hands loosened their grip, it was all Trick could do not to guide one of them to his groin. Almost as if Noah could read his mind, Noah’s hand rubbed over the erection as his deft fingers worked to free Trick.
Trick slid a hand up, into Noah’s hair, and tightened into a fist, tugging gently. Noah’s hands stilled, making Trick want to stop in protest, but he could wait a few more seconds. He released Noah’s mouth, and Noah gasped as Trick pulled his hair. It didn’t sound like a protest, and in any case, Trick wasn’t pulling hard enough to hurt, not really. He bent down and moved his lips and tongue from Noah’s earlobe to the soft spot under his jaw.
Noah gasped again, and he really didn’t sound like he minded, so Trick scraped his teeth along the skin there. A little cry escaped Noah.
“You okay?” Trick whispered against Noah’s damp jaw.
“God, never better.” Noah’s hands began working again, until Trick’s jeans were unfastened, and Noah was shoving the denim down Trick’s hips.
Trick pulled back slightly. “As much as I’d like to do this right here—”
“Don’t tell me you’re leaving.” Noah wrapped a hand around Trick’s erection and it was all Trick could do not to gasp in relief.
Trick laughed once. “I just don’t want to be naked in front of your door is all. Wouldn’t want to scandalize the neighbors if they peeked in.”
“Fuck ‘em.” Noah stroked his fist along Trick’s length.
“I’d rather fuck you.”
“If you insist.”
Trick took a step back and reluctantly pulled up his jeans. “Now, show me where the bedroom is.”
Riley Long is a wife and mother living a quiet life in Virginia, with her husband, son, and very silly Pit Bull puppy. She passes her evenings writing, reading, and watching bad television (or not so bad television). For fun, Riley participates in NaNoWriMo, GISH, and reads with her book club, the BAMFs. She likes things with silly acronyms. The craziest thing Riley has ever done involves lots of butter and a time lapsed video.
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