This is a work of fiction intended for adults only, as it contains explicit scenes not appropriate for minors. By continuing to read, you are acknowledging you are of legal age to do so. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2012 by AJ Rose

Chapter 2

Grocery hand basket over his arm, Ty reached for the cheese Grady liked and came away with warm fingers instead. Head swiveling around, he smiled sheepishly.

“Oh, sorry,” he said. The young girl whose hand he’d just tried to put in his basket looked a little chagrined, then her eyes widened. Uh oh, he thought. Here we go. This isn’t supposed to happen in LA. Everyone but the paps leaves celebrities alone. It wasn’t that he minded when people recognized him, asked for his autograph, and told him their opinion of his performance in whatever movie they’ve connected him to. He was getting used to it. But it was harder to deal with when his guard was down, when he ran errands or went out for dinner, than it was when he was at screenings and interviews.

“I’m the one who should be sorry,” she said, smiling wryly and pushing a silky lock of blond hair behind her ear. “I’m always in such a hurry, I kind of ignore everyone around me.” She reached for another block of the same cheese and put the package in his hand, fingertips brushing his palm like the touch of a hummingbird wing. Straightening up, she winked and stepped around him, walking toward the front of the store, not looking back.

Huh, that’s it? He shook his head, dropped the cheese in with his other items, and turned to the cooler that held the juices, glancing over to see her turn the corner at the end of the aisle and disappear. He even checked out her ass, glad Grady wasn’t there to tell him his bi was showing.

“Ty! Hey, buddy. Long time!” The deep timbre behind him was unmistakable. Ty turned to see a man with dark olive skin and deep brown eyes, piercing smile, and a dimple Ty had been sure would take him places coming toward him, hand extended.

Shaking his hand warmly, Ty grinned. “Marcus! What are you up to, man?” They’d been poor groveling actors at bit part auditions before Ty had landed a new agent who began his skyrocketing career. Marcus had been the bachelor living it up in LA, always with the inside track to the greatest parties with the right people to schmooze, and never the kind to date a woman for more than a week, so when he held up his left hand with gold glinting from a very important finger, Ty’s eyes widened appreciably. “No way!”

“Yeah,” Marcus grinned at him. “She sucker punched me and I was in love from that moment. And that was just the first night.” They chewed over life for a while, and Marcus dropped the bomb that he was working as an agent instead of auditioning. “We have a baby on the way, so I’ve had to be a little more responsible than when I was the king of party life. It’s a new gig, and actually kind of fun, rubbing elbows with the pretty and overpaid of Hollywood. Speaking of, you’re doing quite well for yourself.”

Ty smiled, the set of his shoulders humble. “Yeah, things have been going in my favor for awhile now.” He made no mention of his relationship with Grady, He and Grady, by unspoken agreement, felt their business was no one else’s, especially acquaintances from the distant past who could potentially out them for public attention. A few close friends were aware, but that’s where it stopped. They were afraid of the potential damage to their chance of landing roles, particularly as leading men. While Ty thought Marcus was trustworthy, it had been awhile, and Ty was well aware of how the business changed people. So he thought that’s what Marcus’s suddenly sobered expression meant when he laid a hand on Ty’s shoulder, that somehow their secret had slipped.

“You’re doing okay handling the sudden spotlight, right? Nothing to worry about?” Clearly, he was digging for something, but what, Ty didn’t have an iota of a clue. His heart hammered in his chest, and he tried to think of a way to dig without seeming to.

“Why, you hear something I should know?”

“Naw, not really. Just the usual parasitic shit, drinking too much, fucking too much. None of that’s true, right?”

Ty just laughed, finding it too absurd to respond to, immensely relieved there were no other juicy tidbits closer to the truth.

“You know, you can always talk to me. If you need a friend or … help.” The hand on his shoulder suddenly felt fake and oppressive. Marcus flashed a reassuring if slightly bewildered smile.

“Thanks… I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it’s nice of you to offer. Hey, we should get together for another grudge match, just you, me, a roundball and a hoop. Give me a chance to redeem myself from that last embarrassment.”

Nodding as if he didn’t believe Ty’s confusion, Marcus said, “Yeah, yeah. Got a hoop in my driveway.” He scribbled his address on the back of a business card and handed it to Ty. “Any time you’re up for it. It was great to see you.”

Ty took the card, shoving it in his back pocket. “You too, buddy. Later.” He walked toward the front of the store, wondering what the hell that had been about. Stopping in the liquor aisle, he picked a couple different bottles of wine, then paid and headed home, unaware of the eyes watching his every move through the windows overlooking the parking lot. The intent gaze surreptitiously shifted to the check-out a couple registers away where Marcus was unloading his groceries onto the conveyer belt.

A way in, a calculated mind chuckled.

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Disclaimer so I don’t get sued: Any resemblance in this work to people living or dead is entirely coincidental and locations are used fictitiously. Registered trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.