Excerpt From "Monkey Suit" by BA Tortuga
Casey straightened his tie in the mirror, checked his hair. Christ on a crutch, he was tired of this gig -- piano, monkey suit, hours of entertaining the wealthy old crusties in the lobby.
Still, it was a steady paycheck in a town where everyone could play and everyone was looking for their in.
His in had gone away when Derek had taken a contract with a label in Nashville. Studio musicians, band in place. Sorry son of a bitch was doing great, too. Number one record, opening for the biggie wows.
Of course, a steady paycheck was rent and insurance and Chuys' guacamole.
The lobby was crowded tonight, lots of old folks all dolled up in spangles. Great. He'd be playing "In the Mood" all night. At least he wouldn't have to think. The aged Boesendorfer was sitting in the corner, waiting for him like a comfortable, wonderful old friend.
He could admit to himself, if to no one else, that this was the other reason he kept this job. His apartment didn't have room for a baby grand. Hell, his bank account didn't have that kind of room, and it was worth the Musak to play her, especially late in the night when there was no one about. The manager let him play for hours.
He could even sneak in some Billy Joel.
Casey started with a little light Chopin, fingers dancing over the keys. This was great for a warm up. Really. No one could be offended by--
"Do you take requests?"
He blinked up, that smooth as velvet voice familiar as breathing, as the one that came out of his iPod every day. Derek. Derek Laughton. God. How embarrassing. "I do. What would you like to hear?"
Let the trained monkey play. Ooo ooo ook.
"Mmn." Derek smiled, world famous dimples pulling up in his cheeks. The gimme hat and torn t-shirt made the man look like just another red dirt musician. "'Georgia on My Mind'?"
When God had made gorgeous all-American stud Derek, He'd broken the mold.
Casey's fingers knew the music, which was good, because his brain was somewhere else, wishing he was anywhere else but in this place, tinkling away.
Derek sat right there on the bench next to him and hummed along.
He wasn't sure what the fuck was going on, so he just played, one note after another.
"You still got it, man. Such good hands."
"Thanks." He moved into a little light Gershwin, his mind on Derek. "What are you doing in town?"
Wait, he didn't care.
Derek was out of his reach now.
"Looking for you."
He snorted, actually losing a couple of notes. Him. Right.
"Did you leave a spare pair of briefs at the apartment when you left?"
"Nope. Just a piano player."
"Yeah, well." There were thousands of piano players. In Tennessee. In Texas. Everywhere.
"I miss your deft hand."
Ah. They must not have many fudge packers in the music city. "I've got work."
"I know. I like the piano."
He nodded and kept playing, one song after another and Derek never moved. It was bizarre. No one seemed to notice. With this crowd he could tap dance naked on the piano and no one would care. It wasn't like he was anything more than noisy furniture, fingers in the background.
"Can we talk when you're done tonight? I can hang out, have a drink or two. Sing with you when it gets late."
"I get off at ten." A drink? Sing with him? God, this was like a... a sick dream.
"Cool. You look green, man. I promise, I'm not here to make trouble."
"I... What do you want with me?"
"I want you to come play for me."
His fingers stumbled over the keys. "What?"
"You hit a clunker, babe."
"You think?" He got back to work, shaking his head. "You've... I have to work."
"Okay. I'll be just over there, huh?" Nodding toward the bar, Derek headed off, ass working beneath tight Wranglers.
Casey couldn't... Seriously?
He cut himself off. Pounding the keys would only make people upset, not relaxed and drinking.
This would be life tomorrow, not Derek.
He just needed to play.