Sax On A Stick
He arrived before sound check.
The bar was almost empty, just a couple of old timers at the table near the window, nursing drinks that had long turned to melted-ice-water. The bartender nodded briefly at him as he made his way to a two-seat table along the far side of the dance floor. He sat, easing back into the wooden chair as he checked the angle. Yeah, even once the dancing started he'd have a perfect view of the stage.
Taking out his phone, he checked it for non-existent messages, figuring if he looked busy no one would pay attention to him sitting here well before the show was even scheduled to start.
It was a transparent and slightly pathetic effort, but worth a try.
The bartender crossed the dance floor, beer in hand. "Here you go, man," she said, her blond hair swinging as she set it on the table. "Your usual."
He smiled awkwardly up at her. Dammit. He couldn't decide if that was awesome customer service, or if he'd just been outed as the creeper who'd been stalking this band for the past several weeks.
Probably a little of both.
"Thanks," he finally said, digging into his back pocket for his wallet.
She waved him off. "I figure you're gonna be here for a while. Want to start a tab?"
He nodded. Sure, why not. It would definitely make things easier.
"What's your name?" She smiled at him. "So I can put it in the computer."
"James," he finally answered. "James Michel."
"Not Bond?" She teased. With a wink, she headed back to the bar. Over her shoulder, she added, "Let me know when you need another. It'll get pretty crowded in here soon."
Yeah, he knew. It was why he had been arriving at Dupre's earlier and earlier each week. It was the only way to make sure he had a good viewing spot.
And as lovely as the young lady was, he wasn't here to scope out the bartender.
No, he had his sights on someone else.
The thump-thump of an electric bass pulled his attention back to the stage, where one of the musicians was already warming up. Crap, was it that late already? He checked his watch. Still a little over an hour until the show started.
Well, the official show. For him, the show started...
He looked at the stage again. Another musician was pulling his instrument out of the case and fitting it together.
Yep. The show started right...about...now.
The Businessman was here again.
Breaux glanced at the small table out of the corner of his eye, pretending to focus on setting up his sax.
It was a good cover. He could put that beauty together with his eyes closed.
He didn't know the guy's name. He didn't know for certain that he was a businessman, for that matter.
But it seemed like a pretty reasonable guess. Button down shirt, sleeves rolled up partway in deference to the heat, khaki pants, nice watch that he was currently checking again.
One minute later than the last time you looked, boo.
His sandy blond hair was cut short, barely brushing the tops of his ears. Breaux couldn't tell if his eyes were blue or brown - he'd never sat close enough for anyone to see from on stage - but even from this distance he could tell the guy had the longest damn eyelashes he'd ever seen.
When he'd first started showing up at their weekly gigs, Breaux had assumed he was there to meet women. God knew there were enough of them who came to the shows. But he never danced, never picked anyone up, just sat there nursing his beer and watching the band.
Frankly, he was tired of it. And tonight he was going to do something about it.
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James leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. It was almost time for sound check.
Yeah, okay, it was a little pathetic that he knew the schedule so well, knew the steps the band would take to get ready for the night's performance before they even took them. Every week, without fail, he spent his Thursdays here. At first, he told himself it was for the music. That was all, just a chance to listen to some hot New Orleans style jazz performed by some of the best musicians in town. And in a town like NOLA, that was saying something.
He wasn't the only one who felt that way, either. Every week, the crowd got bigger, more enthusiastic. There'd been write ups in some of the local magazines and on entertainment websites, not that he'd set up a Google alert for the band's name or anything.
Oh, hell, yes he had.
He was a damn groupie.
Mentally rolling his eyes at himself, he lifted a hand to signal the bartender. She nodded and went to get him another beer.
There really wasn't anything wrong with being a groupie, he supposed. He wasn't hurting anyone, just sitting here enjoying the show, building up some fantasy material for when he was home alone.
It wasn't like the sax player would ever notice him, anyway. He had his pick of women every week, hanging all over him, asking him to sign autographs and sometimes body parts. He'd never given any sign that he played for the other team.
And James wasn't the type to march on up to some hot guy and ask him out.
He was too reserved for that.
Plus, it was a handy way to get gay bashed, even in a cosmopolitan city like New Orleans.
So he'd just enjoy the hot music, the hotter guy playing it, and go home alone like every week.
Breaux ran a few scales on his alto, tossing in some arpeggios and a triplet or two. Starting soft and growing loud, then heading the other direction, he made that baby growl and moan as he worked through his warm up. Out of the corner of his eye he saw The Businessman shift in his chair, angling his body so he had a better view.
Yeah, he was watching.
Breaux smiled around his mouthpiece. If the man wanted to watch, he was damn well going to put on a show.
It was no secret that Breaux was a bit of an exhibitionist. All professional musicians had a touch of that in their personalities, at least the ones he knew. Getting up on stage night after night, all eyes on him, was a rush he never got tired of.
But when he had the opportunity to play to one face in the crowd, to feel that feedback loop of energy across the club…damn.
The set hadn’t even started yet tonight and he was already on fire.
Leaning forward, he made that baby growl again.
“Jesus, Breaux, save some for the show,” Junior muttered, nudging him with a hip as he tuned his guitar. “Not like there’s anyone here to appreciate it yet.”
Breaux lifted one hand from his sax, flipped off his bandmate, and went back to his warm ups.
This was just the appetizer. And he was getting amped up for the main dish.
God, the man was hot.
Sexy, dirty hot. His softly faded jeans were tight, clinging to every curve, and ripped in all the right places. He wore a black tank that already looked slightly damp from the musician’s exertion. His shaved head gleamed under the stage lights. A trimmed goatee framed full lips currently wrapped around his saxophone mouthpiece.
God damn, James had it bad.
Sex on a stick leaned over to say something to the keyboard player, pulling a full throated laugh out of the larger black man. “You’re a dog, bro,” he announced, smacking the saxophonist on the arm. “Grade A number one hound.”
In response, the man threw his head back and howled. Straight up howled at the pressed-tin ceiling.
James shivered. He was going to have some sweet sound effects to go with his fantasies tonight.
The bar was really starting to fill up now, with locals and tourists in about equal proportions. A group of women all wearing fuschia wigs and tight black t-shirts emblazoned with “Wedding Party” in sequins across their chests crowded around the bar. The woman in the middle, her shirt spelling out “I’m The Bride, Bitch”, ordered hurricanes for all of them.
James smiled to himself. He’d tried those a few times, just because it was New Orleans and the drink was synonymous with the city, but found them too sweet for his taste. Give him a beer or a bourbon any day of the week.
Sex On A Stick ran some scales, notes so fast they tumbled over each other, and the waterfall of sound pulled James’ attention away from the bachelorette party. He sat back in his chair, crossing one leg over the other, and settled in for yet another Thursday night of amazing music.
The bar was packed.
Breaux looked around at the gathered crowd and nodded with satisfaction. When they’d started this regular Thursday gig, attendance was pretty typical for midweek in New Orleans. But over the past few months, word had gotten around, and now they were bringing in enough customers to keep the owner happy.
Breaux and the rest of the band appreciated it, too. Not just for the increased revenue for the bar, and the job security that came from that. Not just for the added tips they collected every week. But the energy the crowd contributed made every week that much better. He fed off it, breathed it in, let it pump his performances up until he was flying high on the feedback loop from audience to musician and back again.
Yeah, by the end of the night he’d be exhausted, sweaty, wrung out. But he’d also be wired, jazzed, and ready to go for another set or three.
He always left the Thursday night show practically vibrating with energy, wishing he had some way to burn it off.
And tonight, that energy was ramping up even earlier than usual.
He checked his watch, and turned to nod at the rest of the band. Counting out the beats, he swung around to face the gathered crowd and began to play.
The sax player was going to be the death of him.
James shifted in his seat, unable to do much about his hard-on other than try to keep it hidden by the table and overall darkness of the club.
Still, it was crowded. And hot. And his khakis weren’t quite baggy enough to hide the evidence.
Whatever. It wasn’t like he showed up week after week to watch Hot Guy With Saxophone because it did nothing for him.
But Jesus, he was on fire tonight, playing that horn like he was born to it.
Maybe he had been.
The music was quintessentially New Orleans, a blend of jazz and blues with a measure of down-and-dirty rock mixed in. The drummer and the guitarist were both fantastic musicians – they’d have to be, to keep up with the sax player – but he was undeniably the star of the show. Bending low over his horn, then leaning back as he pushed the music up, up, up, he drew all eyes in the club. The songs segued into each other, pulling the crowd along with them, until half the place was on their feet dancing.
Finally, the music stopped, and James sat back in his chair, utterly wrung out. Even seated, his blood was pounding in his veins, his heart thumping to the drum beat that had temporarily disappeared.
Disappointed, he checked his watch, not really surprised to realize that enough time had passed for this to be a logical stopping point for the first set. It always worked like this, the crowd getting so caught up in the music that they could hardly believe it was an hour later already.
Some generic blues tune started blaring over the sound system as the band took a well-deserved break. The people that had been crowding the dance floor turned en masse to the bar, pushing forward to shout their orders to the still-cheerful bartender.
James tipped his chair back against the wall and watched. He was really good at watching. Especially when it came to watching the band, even when they weren’t playing.
The sax player set his instrument onto a stand set to the side of the stage and picked up a gaudily-decorated coffee can. He leaned into the mic and shouted, “If you’re liking the music tonight, we won’t turn down a tip or two. And if you aren’t having a good time, you’d better think about your life choices.” Grinning, he hopped the short distance off the stage and started weaving his way through the crowd.
Women in miniskirts dug in tiny purses for bills to toss in the can. Guys opened their wallets to add a few dollars as the sax player passed by. The fuschia-wigged bridal party pooled their cash and
shoved it into the bride’s hands, urging her forward with catcalls and raucous laughter. She wiggled the wad of bills in front of the sax player’s face. In response, he wrapped his free arm around her waist, dipped her low, and planted a kiss on her bright red lips.
When he brought her upright again, there was a smear of red on his lips, accentuating his even white teeth. He was grinning down at her as the crowd hollered for more. She was still clinging to his shoulders with one hand and holding her wig and tiara on her head with the other. He leaned down and said something to her that had her dissolving in laughter, and he took the opportunity to spin her gracefully out of his embrace. Then he moved on, twisting and turning his way through the raucous bar crowd.
James leaned forward, elbows propped on the tabletop, and watched avidly. The man’s hips swayed ever so slightly in time with the music, drawing the eye to the waist and below. Not that James wouldn’t be checking him out in that general area anyway. The faded denim clung in all the right places, accentuating his – assets – even in the dim light of the bar.
With a start, James realized that the man was actually heading toward the far wall of the building, almost directly to where he was sitting.
This was unusual. In all the months he’d been coming to the Thursday show, none of the musicians or their crew went much beyond the bulk of the crowd, preferring to stay nearer the bar or dance floor where most of the customers congregated. James usually just dropped a twenty in the tip jar on his way out the door.
But tonight, the object of his lust was walking right towards him.
Half-standing, he fumbled in his back pocket for his wallet, never taking his eyes off the sax player.
He managed to pull a bill out right as the man himself stopped next to his chair.
He reached up and dropped his twenty in the decorated chicory can.
There was a long, slow pause as the sax player looked from the can, to James, and back again. His face impassive, he finally said, “Thanks, boo,” and turned to walk away.
Holy hell. James slumped back in his chair, blowing out a long, drawn-out breath. The guy was taller than he appeared on stage. That close, James could see the fine stubble on his jawline, blending into the close-cropped goatee. Every inch of him looked totally lickable. And that voice…
Scrubbing a hand through his hair, James watched his fantasy weave through the crowd back to the stage, the faded jeans clinging to his ass like an embrace.
He was going to remember this night for a long, long time.
James stood and wound his way through the crowd to the bathroom. The second set was almost over, and he wanted to beat the rush. Besides, the piano player took the lead on this song anyway.
Despite his best intentions, and the fact that the bar crowd was seventy-five percent female, there was still a line for the men’s room, so he queued up and waited for his turn. He waited patiently, only checking his watch twice as he stood there.
Finally, it was his turn, so he went in, turning to close and lock the door behind him. But before he could manage it, someone else pushed his way inside.
“Excuse me,” he said, turning to look at the intruder. “I was here first…”
His voice died out. What the hell was he doing in here?
The sax player locked the door and turned to James. “Excuse-moi.”
His voice was deep, rough, with a little spice tossed in. His Cajun was rich and true, and somehow he made it sound intimate instead of intimidating.
“I could … wait outside …” James fumbled for the door handle, completely out of his depth here. Why hadn’t the man cut in line before he’d made it inside the bathroom?
“Now why would you want to do that, cher, when you’re the reason I’m in here in the first place?”
James blinked. Twice.
“Do you think I haven’t noticed?” The man stalked forward a few steps, all fluid grace and menacing beauty. “You’re here, week after week, always in the same spot, always watching. Watching me.”
“I, uh, love your music. The band is fantastic, and the club is very welcoming,” James babbled, heart racing, but the other man was already shaking his head.
“I don’t think that’s it,” he murmured, placing his hand flat against the door, right over James’ left shoulder. He leaned in, his cheek almost brushing James’ as he whispered in his ear. “I think you’re here for me.”
Oh God. Oh God, oh God, oh God. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. I’ll just –"
The other man cut him off. “My name,” he said, “Is Breaux. B-R-E-A-U-X. And I think we need to finish this conversation after the show.”
“No, that’s okay. I should leave, anyway.”
Breaux shook his head slowly, a smile teasing at the corner of his mouth. “Now, that would be a damn shame, you being my biggest fan and all.” He leaned in again. “Later.”
Then he reached behind James and unlocked the door, pulling it open so he could slip out of the bathroom and disappear into the impatient crowd.
James stood just inside the room, adrenaline coursing through his body, until the next guy in line pounded impatiently on the door and hollered at him to hurry the hell up.
The crowd was starting to filter out of the club as James approached the bar. He needed to pay his tab and get the hell out of here as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, circumstances conspired against him, as the bridal party milled around the bar, blocking his way forward, and the bartender settled bills with everyone except him. He glanced over at the stage, again and again, watching Breaux disassemble and put away his saxophone.
The man was surrounded by gorgeous women in tiny skirts and tinier tops, chattering away about the show and how his playing moved them, truly.
Any other night, James would have rolled his eyes. But tonight, he was too nervous to care.
Breaux had noticed him sitting in the club, week after week. Breaux had approached him. And now he wanted to “finish” the conversation?
No, sir. He was a gay man. He knew how those conversations could go down.
He was going to pay his damn tab, sneak out while Breaux was otherwise occupied, and find another spot to hang out on Thursday nights.
Maybe his living room. That should be relatively safe.
It was too bad, though. He’d enjoyed his evenings here.
“Hey, gorgeous,” the bartender said, turning to him. “What can I do for you?”
“Just the bill,” he said. “I have to get going.”
“Aw, that’s too bad.” She winked at him. “Sure you don’t want to stick around for the after party?”
“Thanks, but I’ll pass.” He looked at the stage. Breaux was still busy. “Better get a move on.”
“If you’re sure.” She took his debit card and walked over to the register. “You’re practically an honorary employee by this point. You’re here enough.”
He could feel his face burning. Why the hell had he been so obvious? “Just like the music. And the setting, of course.”
“Of course.” She tapped a few keys on the register, frowned at it, then tapped a couple more. “And the devastatingly awesome bartender, right?”
“Absolutely.” He couldn’t be quite sure if she was flirting with him or not. But he was definitely sure that she was taking forever to finish this transaction. If she didn’t hurry up, the band was going to be finished and –
James hadn’t even noticed Breaux coming up behind him until that moment. The taller, broader man reached over James’ shoulder and fist-bumped the bartender.
“You owe me,” she grumbled, handing James his debit card with a sheepish smile. “I had to pull every trick in the book to keep him here until you were done.”
“Don’t worry. I always pay my debts.” Breaux stepped to James’ side and tilted his head. “You weren’t planning on running out on me, were you, boo?”
“No, I –"
Breaux leaned in and whispered, “Liar.” Then he wrapped a warm, wide palm around James’ wrist and tugged him away from the bar.
James looked around. The place was almost empty now, the rest of the band starting to haul their equipment out the front door.
“You gonna help, Breaux?” The keyboardist was standing next to the doorway, a cardboard box in his hands.
“Not tonight,” Breaux replied. “I have plans.”
In response, the keyboardist just rolled his eyes and walked out the door.
Breaux headed in the opposite direction, pulling a reluctant James behind him.
He should have skipped out on the tab, left a fifty on the table, settled up before the last song. What voodoo was this man practicing on him, to make him so careless?
The hall outside the kitchen was empty now, a faint rattle of dishes being cleaned echoing out the far doorway. Breaux leaned back against the wall, legs braced wide, still holding James’ wrist captive in his hand.
“So, Businessman, you know my name. How about you return the favor and tell me yours?”
“Uh, James. My name is James. But I’m not a businessman.”
Breaux flicked the collar of James’ button down shirt. “Sure ‘nough could have fooled me.”
“Look, I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable earlier –“
Breaux cut him off. “I saw you watching me.”
James clamped his mouth shut.
“And I have only one question.”
Breaux tugged James forward until he was standing right between Breaux’s legs. “Do you like what you see?”
James felt like he’d swallowed his own tongue. Glancing to the left and right, he could see the hall was still deserted. The noises coming from the kitchen, and out in the main area of the bar, reassured him that there were still people around. Just in case.
Oh, what the hell. He nodded.
To his surprise, Breaux didn’t react angrily. Instead, he slid his fingers from James’ collar down to the top button of his Oxford shirt. Toying with it, he murmured, “Just like a present, all buttoned up and waiting for me to unwrap it.”
“So tell me, cher, do you want to be unwrapped?”
“I … I don’t understand.”
Breaux sighed. He clearly had to be more direct. Leaning down, he captured James’ mouth with his.
The man stood there, frozen. Breaux stroked his tongue along the seam of his mouth, and on a gasp, dove right in.
James surged forward, wrapping one arm around Breaux’s neck and holding him in place, his tongue chasing Breaux’s. He kissed up Breaux's jawline, the smooth shaven skin of James’ cheek brushing up against Breaux’s stubble, making them both shiver.
Breaux slipped the button out of the buttonhole, exposing a patch of skin at the base of James’ neck.
Placing wet, open-mouthed kisses down James’ neck, he picked a sweet spot and latched on, licking and sucking the sensitive skin. Then he took James’ hand, still held in his grasp, and brought it right down to his hard cock, pressing against the front of his jeans.
“You do this to me,” Breaux whispered harshly, his voice in counterpoint to James’ panting breaths.
“Every week, watching me. With your proper looks and your hungry eyes. What do I do to you?”
He slid his other hand around James’ back, curving over his khaki-covered ass, and urged him silently forward until their bodies aligned.
They both groaned, voices echoing in the empty hallway, separated only by the clothing they wore and the grip of James’ hand. The press and the friction, the naughty thrill of being somewhere they could be caught at any moment, had Breaux on the edge within seconds. Reluctantly, he pulled away, gratified when James chased after his mouth to give him one more long, deep, wet, dirty kiss, his fingers still stroking the front of Breaux’s jeans.
“Much as I’d like to continue this now, cher, I’d rather not come in my pants on the first date. So how about heading out? We can … get to know each other.”
The man who’d been grinding into him moments ago actually blushed at that. Damn, he was an interesting mixture of buttoned up and ready to ride. Breaux was looking forward to peeling back the layers.
“So, James,” he said, tucking his fingers in the man’s back pocket as he steered him toward the exit door. “How do you feel about beignets for breakfast?”