MMF BISEXUAL ROMANCE: Phoenix Running (5 page)

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“I think we should go.”

“Can we stay a minute longer? I have got to find this guy’s album online and download it. This beat is catchy as hell!” Cee-Cee grabbed his hand. Ashley had moved onto another, livelier song, and she dragged Phoenix out to the dance floor. He held up a hand in protest, but her smiling face was hard to turn down.

“One dance,” he allowed. The way she stepped into his arms was familiar and guileless, and it wasn’t even a come-on. Cee-Cee didn’t seem like that type. It might have been annoying earlier when he was trying to get her to let her guard down, but as Phoenix thought about it, it was refreshing.

They could be friends. She knew his secrets now. She had been transparently observant of his interactions with Ashley, and Phoenix was sure she recognized desire when she saw it. So, they would have to be.

Chapter 6

he chemistry simmering
between the three people on the tour bus was something foreign, and Cee-Cee didn’t fully understand it, but she felt it on her skin, a continuous prickle. She inhaled sharply at the elegant way Ashley threw his tall, slender body on the plush, pillowy bed of his closet-sized room. She didn’t even know RVs could be this spacious. He had a leg cocked at the knee and his back against the headboard, with that t-shirt molded to his gorgeous body.

He wasn’t buff like Phoenix. He looked athletic and natural, a swimmer instead of gym-honed. She pictured him in the surf of his home country and imagined she could feel the rays of the Down Under sun. Or maybe that wasn’t the sun… Ashley’s eyes swept over her with heat within the ash-gray coals before returning to Phoenix, who ambled the length of the tour bus.

She tucked her hair behind her ear when it fell across her face and obscured the view, and her movement caused Ashley’s eyes to fly to hers. He smiled. Phoenix’s wary gaze, filled with reticence and desire, turned her way as well and made her heart hammer in her chest. Cee-Cee had the sense she was caught between a rock and a hard place, and both promised a good time.

She wondered at the fickleness of her desire that it could transfer from one man to the other, but Ashley was the silk to Phoenix’s cashmere.

“I don’t really know why we’re here.” She emitted a short laugh. She had convinced Phoenix to stay until the show ended—that’s why they were there. Well, that was her contribution. Cee-Cee slid a hand down her arm.

Phoenix circled around her and strolled to the bar built into the miniature kitchenette. It was a black wood and marble affair against the far wall. He looked perfectly in his element, but Cee-Cee sensed his uneasiness. At the same time, she marveled at how the blue suit stood out against the darker backdrop. “Do you mind?” he asked, picking up a glass. Ashley gestured for him to help himself.

“The way I’ve always heard it, two’s company and three’s a crowd,” Phoenix murmured. He tilted the crystal decanter and made himself a drink. Ashley and Cee-Cee watched him slowly take a sip, both sets of eyes riveted to Phoenix’s sensual mouth.

“You’ve obviously never been to a party,” Ashley countered. “But you say you’re a politician, so surely you must know. It takes two or more touching and agreeing to get things done.”

“Why did you invite us here?”

“I thought it was obvious. Because I want to touch and agree.” Ashley smiled in invitation and Cee-Cee let out another laugh but bit off the sound sharply, covering her lips when Phoenix blew out a breath and stared at Ashley with a frown.

“You’re a bold one, Ashley. Too bold for my tastes.”

“But, Phoenix, you have yet to taste.” Ashley cocked a brow at him, and when the man didn’t look away, he slid a hand down his chiseled abs to his crotch and cupped the ridge of his growing erection. Cee-Cee felt her body tingle in response. She clenched her fists as he pushed up from the bed and approached her. Ashley stepped up behind her; he was close enough for his body heat to burn through her clothes. She felt her pulse begin to race with anticipation and confusion.

There was no figuring out this feeling. Cee-Cee was out of her league here, but the alternative was leaving, and they had only been there five minutes. “And I have yet to taste,” Ashley whispered against her ear. “I want to. Do you?” His lips brushed the back of her neck.

She swiftly looked at Phoenix. He didn’t look pleased. Jealous? That sent a spark through her as well. She had never been fought over before. How novel. But, really, what the hell was going on here?

“Why did you really invite us here? Oh, I get it,” she lied. “You think I’m a groupie or something. Well, you got the wrong idea about us. I’m a social media liaison for a major PR firm. I work for Phoenix; we’re not a couple, and I’m damn sure not an escort.” Cee-Cee chuckled at the very notion, but she could see how someone like Ashley might get that impression. He was probably used to that sort of woman.

Ashley moved away from her and pushed his back against the wall with his arms crossed. She felt the shock of his departure; his voice was cool as well. “Don’t look down on escorts. It’s an honest living. Oldest profession known to mankind. I’m sorry if I offended you. But it’s you who seems to have the wrong idea about me. See, I’m not interested in groupies or hired sex. I’m at the top of the billboards in Australia. Not hard up for pussy or cock. I only invited you guys out here because you looked like my sort of people.”

Phoenix interjected, “Okay, I might have been vague in the club. Let’s be clear now. I’m the mayor of this town, and I have a reputation to protect, one that doesn’t involve sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. It was a pleasure meeting you, Ashley, but we really must be going. Cee-Cee?”

“Can’t we just—” She wasn’t ready to go, but Phoenix looked dead-set, and he was her ride home. His eyes brooked no argument.

Cee-Cee hadn’t known him for long, but she was sure he was as curious to see where this was going as she was. So what was stopping them from staying? He had a reputation to protect. Right. Men like the mayor didn’t frequent tour buses with sexy rock stars. And judging by the way the two men were eyeing each other, she’d say there were sizzling undercurrents arcing between them.

Which, oddly, turned her on even more. Cee-Cee pressed a hand to her lower abdomen and struggled to quell the desire sparked by the crossfire of their gazes. She realized Phoenix was getting himself out of temptation’s way. She might not be experienced when it came to sex, but she was an expert at turning it down. “…Well, let’s go, then,” she conceded.

Ashley shook his head with regret. “You’re welcome to leave, but if your reason for going is that you’re worried about sullying your reputation, you should probably consider that I’m not some big American act that will draw that kind of attention. In fact, you’re more low profile here on the bus with me than you were out there in that club. You say the two of you aren’t together?” He pointed two fingers at them.

Cee-Cee shook her head. “Nope,” said Phoenix. “Not that it’s any of your business. And while you’re trying to persuade us to linger, don’t you have another show tonight?” Cee-Cee had picked up a program on their way out of the night club, and she had mentioned to Phoenix that the singer was slated to close out a festival about fifteen miles from here. That he remembered that trivial information was telling.

Ashley shifted toward him and said, “Sure, but I’ve got about an hour to spare before my crew leaves, which gives us plenty of time to get to know each other. You haven’t left yet. I know you want to stay. How about it? Have some drinks. Sex is optional. We can chill, shoot the shit and go our separate ways.”

“You’re persistent. Maybe the two of you should hook up,” Phoenix joked, pointing at Cee-Cee.

She commented, “I’m happily single; however, it seems like the two of you would make a cute enough couple.” She grinned. Phoenix shot her an angry glare, and she contritely pressed her lips together. “It was just a joke.”

“Funny, but I’m not gay. I don’t date men.”

“Sleep with, Phoenix. There’s a distinction,” supplied Ashley. “Can’t really squeeze a relationship into an hour.” Cee-Cee rolled her eyes and suppressed a laugh. She tried to remember the last time she had had this much fun but couldn’t. Why not stay?

“I’m heterosexual. You’re insane.”

“Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but...” Ashley Terrence stepped between Cee-Cee and Phoenix and tossed an arm around each of them. “I just think the three of us can hook up, be adults about this, and have a memorable one-night stand. Nobody will be any the wiser. It’s been a long trip for me, and I could so take a load off, pun intended.”

Cee-Cee held up a hand in protest. “The three of us? Whoa! Cool your jets, rock star. It’s my job to keep the mayor’s image squeaky clean, and there will be no memorable one-night stands. Phoenix, if we leave now—as much as I might want to stay and see what happens next—we can avoid any messy mistakes. I’m all about avoiding mistakes.”

“Oh, is that why you were stand-offish on our dinner date?” Phoenix finally smiled. “You didn’t want to make any mistakes.” He stepped away from Ashley and turned to her.

But Cee-Cee wriggled out of Ashley’s hug and strutted to the door, unaware that both men were staring until she glanced over her shoulder. “Don’t put the spotlight on me, Phoenix Briton. This is all on you. Come on. Let’s get rolling.”

Ashley grinned. “I’m just saying. The rest of this evening is going to be boring for the two of you without me, mates. I’m what you need.” Cee-Cee believed him. He seemed like a firework waiting to light up the night.

“You are a character,” she flirted back. She was still trying to wrap her head around him wanting both of them. Cee-Cee had never met a bisexual man before, although she had a few gay friends at the university. She was usually too busy to hang with them away from campus. “My night won’t be boring because I have a nephew at home who likes for me to read to him before bedtime, and I’m already late for that important date.”

Ashley ambled toward her, took her hand in his and brought her fingers to his lips. “In that case, I’ll stand down to the bigger man. I hope we can keep in touch. I’m easy to find on Facebook and Twitter.”

“Look me up. I’m @CeeMeNow. By the way…if you were serious about what you said in the club, I’d love to get you started using the NowIn beta. It’s exactly right for someone like you.” She avoided looking at Phoenix as she made the offer. She could see Ashley Terrence being the better fit for the program. He wouldn’t mind blasting his life story out into the Internet, and he’d do an excellent job showing off all the features of NowIn without having to be cajoled into it.

She could see now that asking Phoenix Briton to embrace the app had been a stretch. She couldn’t think of a single politician who actually wanted the world to know what went on behind the curtain. Cee-Cee stood by her assessment that the app would’ve helped his campaign, though. Either way, when one door closed, another opened. Ashley was that other door.

Phoenix inserted himself between them with a possessive hand at the base of Cee-Cee’s spine, and she involuntarily shivered at his touch. He pushed past Ashley, muttering, “Nice meeting you, Ashley. I’d appreciate it if we don’t make it into your posts, Tweets, etc. Come on, Cee-Cee.”

His firm guidance propelled her out of the door, but she peeped over his shoulder at their interesting new friend who had just invited them to have a threesome. What in the world was dating coming to? Awed by the meeting, Cee-Cee followed Phoenix out to his car with a loopy grin plastered to her face. He shot her several annoyed looks, but he couldn’t shake her mood. “That was amazing,” she chirped.

He smoothed his jacket and glanced out the window up at the Yellow Lounge. “About what went on back there…don’t read too much into it. I’m not gay or bisexual. Let’s leave it at that.” He turned his gaze to Cee-Cee as the shiny Rolls sped away from the place, and she threw up her hands, blinking innocently.

“Hey, no hate. As I told our new buddy, I’m here to do a job, although I can understand how any question of your sexuality might not be the best thing for reelection. So, your secret really is safe with me.”

“Not a word. Not even to your uncle.”

“Especially not to my uncle…But I saw the way the two of you were looking at each other, and I’d say it was pretty intense.”

He rested his elbow on the door and eyed her. “I’ve been looking at you pretty intensely all night, and you didn’t seem to notice. I treat a guy politely. I humor him and bring you along to hang out with a rock star. Suddenly, you see star-crossed lovers.” He smiled slowly and shook his head.

“Maybe I did notice you staring at me pretty intensely,” she said boldly. Phoenix tapped a button on the door panel, and the partition slid up between them and the driver. Cee-Cee looked from the wall to him and sat up straighter. “What are you doing?”

“I’m not trying to put the moves on you. I need this conversation to be private. Cee-Cee, I need to be able to trust you. I’m going to tell you some things about me that never make it into any files or bios.”

“Such as?”

“My parents were the perfect couple. My father was a councilman, and my mother a business owner, but when my dad decided to have an affair and it got out to the press, he ruined their marriage and everything else they had worked for. You see, my father had a hard time separating his worlds. He used government funds to keep his mistresses living lavishly while Mom struggled to keep a roof over our head.”

“Wow,” Cee-Cee breathed. She had heard whispers about a scandalous family history, but she had never dug deeply into it.

Phoenix nodded dismissively. “Anyway, the point is, when I went into politics I made a decision to put dating on hold. I could prove I’m a straight man, start dating some chick, but I’m not going to do that. I don’t need a sham relationship. I need to keep my private life private. That said, however, if someone were to leak even a rumor of a same-sex attraction, it could put me in an uncomfortable position.”

“We seem to have more and more in common. I’ve spent the past few years moving forward in my career, too, and a relationship isn’t in my cards.”

“Then, you can see why I’m not about having my personal business scrutinized, although I wish…” He trailed off, and Cee-Cee arched a brow.


He shook off the momentary melancholy and found a playful grin. “I wish I had more nights like this. Going out with a beautiful woman. Hanging out in a cool nightclub. Meeting people. It’s-it’s like I’m accomplishing everything I set out to do in life except living, you know?”

She thought about the class assignments and work at PR-ISM, as well as generating the right interest in her app, and she totally related. “Yeah, sometimes I wish for the same things, but I—you know, if I don’t make the most of my dreams, then that’s all they’ll remain. There’ll be time enough for wild nights in our future, right?”

“Will there?” He tapped her fingers with his, and he smoothed his thumb over the top of her hand.

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