A very little bit from Falling Apart which is available from MLR Books.
Ryder Sullivan pushed his way to the packed bar with feigned confidence. He forced a casual look, and managed to maneuver his lean frame, tight jeans and all, onto a high chrome and leather barstool. As he settled in, Ryder glanced around self-consciously, trying to get his bearings. Well, he thought, at least I’ll have an audience. Which Way was packed full of bodies, each one moving and bobbing to the pounding rock music blasting through the speakers to his right.
An adorable bartender, probably a few years older than him, tall, with a soft curve to his face, chuckled. He was as far away from Ryder as possible, making it difficult to get a drink. Every grinning, half-drunk patron seemed to know the guy and laughed along with his antics. Ryder’s breath hitched a little, but he wouldn’t allow himself to think too much about this man right before a show.
The bartender turned and fixed Ryder with sparkling green eyes. Ryder nodded and lifted his slender fingers in a small wave, indicating his growing need for a drink.
“What can I get for ya?” the bartender drawled as he leaned down and eyed Ryder as if he were the only person in the room.
Ryder’s stomach fluttered, and he reminded himself that just because he slept with men did not mean this bartender did. With soft brown curls, muscles bared beneath his honest-to-God plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and perfect ass clad in actual Wrangler jeans, the bartender seemed to be flirting with everyone who crossed his path. None of that meant the bartender would be interested in him. Ryder offered a smile, the guarded one he put on for the endless publicity shoots, and swallowed hard.
“Patron. And a glass of water, too, I guess. Can’t get too drunk if I’m going to get up there and play, can I?” Ryder’s awkward chuckle escaped before he gestured vaguely towards the stage. He grinned, showing off his straight white teeth, and rubbed a hand over the stubble along his jaw.
“No shit, buddy? You’re our entertainment for the night?” The bartender’s grin took over his face as he turned to grab a bottle. He swiftly poured Ryder a large draft of the clear top-shelf liquor in a highball glass. “On the house.” He pushed the drink towards Ryder. “You all right? You look a little outta your element.”
Ryder stared into the glass and fought to keep his defenses at bay. He leaned in a bit, letting a cocky smirk slowly cover his face as he locked eyes with the bartender. If he was just a bit closer, Ryder could have kissed the southern-grown man. The palpable heat between them sent chills down Ryder’s arms, even with the shiny black bar between them. “I could say the same about you, country boy bartending in a rock and roll bar.” He took a sip of the drink before adding, “I’m Ryder.” He took another swallow of the liquor, letting its burn slide down his throat. “Sullivan.”
“Pleased t’ meetcha, Ryder Sullivan. I’m Billy.” Billy placed a glass of water in front of Ryder. “Now I suppose I gotta go do my job before one of these good people jumps the bar, but you just holler if you need anything at all, okay? Good luck up there.” He winked at Ryder before turning away.