The tomb-like rear cabin of the Jaguar XJ provided Shawn sanctuary against Seoul’s raucous nightlife as the sedan’s driver expertly navigated nighttime traffic. The city flashed by in a nearly silent mélange of colors, lights, and sounds with Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” as the soundtrack. The streets teemed with bicyclists, scooters, taxis, buses, and cars all jockeying for position. Pedestrians filling the sidewalks seemed to rush by as the black Jag motored through the busy streets toward the concert venue. They’d arrive at the dome in another ten minutes or so.
A light rain fell making the water droplets that collected on the sedan’s rear side window reflect the vibrant colors of the city’s lights like dozens of tiny jewels.
The sedan slowed, momentarily caught up in sluggish traffic. Shawn glanced up to see Ryan Greyson’s billboard ad for Golden Blue whisky. The hunky actor wore a tuxedo, tie untied and hanging lose about his neck looking like Daniel Craig from that Casino Royale movie poster. Ryan’s shirt lay open, two or three buttons. So sexy.
To the left was Shawn’s own Calvin Klein billboard ad. He faced Ryan wearing only a pair of white Calvin briefs, legs slightly spread flaunting his muscular upper torso and ripped abs. Ryan’s face wore a devilish smirk. Shawn smiled and shook his head at the irony.
Shawn’s mind flashed back three weeks to when he first met Ryan. They were both in London filming a scene for Ryan’s latest movie, in which Shawn had a cameo appearance as himself. Shawn didn’t have an opportunity to meet Ryan before filming the scene, but afterward, Ryan walked over and extended his hand.
“Hi Shawn. I’m Ryan.”
Shawn conjured a shy smile as he shook Ryan’s hand. “Uh, yeah. I’m, I’m Shawn.”
“Yeah. That’s…what I said.”
They both laughed and fell into an awkward silence as other actors and crew members slowly disappeared from the set.
Ryan recovered first. “So, yeah. Thanks for doing this, man,” he grinned. “I know you have a busy schedule, so I appreciate you being available.”
Shawn flashed his own toothy grin. “No problem, Ryan. It was really fun.” Shawn hoped that Ryan wouldn’t pick up on Shawn’s nervousness or his starstruck reaction at meeting the actor. “God, he’s hot as fuck.”
Ryan suddenly scrunched up his forehead and pointed to his own teeth. “Oh, dude. Looks like you got…a little something in your teeth there.”
“Oh shit!” Shawn exclaimed, self-consciously covering his mouth with his hand. “For real?” Shawn swept his teeth with his tongue to try to find whatever Ryan had seen.
“Yeah. I don’t know,” Ryan shrugged. “Looks like it might…”
Shawn patted his pocket for his cell phone but realized he didn’t bring it onto the set with him. “Dammit.”
“…be broccoli or something. Did you have broccoli?”
“Wow, this is really embarrassing,” Shawn muttered trying to avoid looking at Ryan.
Ryan burst out laughing. “Dude, I’m totally fucking with you.”
Shawn’s jaw went slack for a moment before he rolled his eyes skyward and laughed along with Ryan. “Oh fuck! Seriously, dude?”
“I’m sorry,” Ryan finally managed. “I’m an ass sometimes, I know.”
“No argument here,” Shawn quipped.
“It’s just that you looked…I don’t know…”
“Super nervous?” Shawn sheepishly supplied.
Ryan nodded. “A little.”
“I was,” shrugged Shawn. “Am,” he amended.
“Relax, dude. I’m just a regular guy. Besides, you’re like a mega music superstar. If anything, I should be starstruck by you.”
An embarrassed smile tugged at the corner of Shawn’s lips. He didn’t consider himself a superstar. His rise to fame had been more recent and he still wasn’t quite used to the spotlight, the screaming fans, or the paparazzi lurking around every corner. “I don’t know about that,” he murmured.
“Mmm. Humble. I like that in a guy.”
Shawn’s eyebrow shot up in surprise. “You do?”
Ryan shrugged in silent affirmation. “So, um…I’m done for the day,” he said. “You wanna get a drink or have some dinner or…something?” Ryan’s voice trailed off. Now he was nervous. It crossed his mind that he might be a bit starstruck himself. “Oh fuck! I just asked Shawn Nunez out on a date!” Ryan’s heart pounded as he awaited Shawn’s reply.
“Yes!” Shawn replied, a little too eagerly. He groaned inwardly and tried not to roll his eyes. “Smooth, Nunez.”
Ryan flashed an amused, but relieved smile, happy that Shawn accepted his offer. Ryan jerked his thumb over his right shoulder. “Okay, I’m gonna go to my dressing room and get out of this make-up,”
Shawn nodded and then suddenly realized he also wore make-up. “I should, I should do that too,” he replied.
“Yeah. Cool,” Ryan replied. “Meet me in my dressing room.”
Shawn’s eyes grew two sizes bigger. “In your…dressing room?”
“Yeah. After you get your make-up off or shower or whatever you’re going to do,” Ryan answered.
“Oh!” Shawn looked down and laughed, feeling the heat of embarrassment overtake his features at the ridiculous thought that Ryan might be suggesting that Shawn accompany Ryan to his dressing room.
“Of course, if you want to join me in my dressing room…”
Shawn’s head shot up to see Ryan wearing a devilish grin.
Shawn imagined his face turned three shades of red darker. “Oh!” He gasped. “They, uh, actually hooked me up with, with one of my own, a really nice one,” he blurted out. “I’ll just…”
“Suit yourself,” Ryan shrugged. “Better get your cute ass movin’ though,” he said, turning away from Shawn. “I’m hungry.”
Shawn gasped. Did Ryan Greyson just tell him he had a cute ass?
“And yeah, I just told you that you have a cute ass,” Ryan called over his shoulder.
The singer chuckled and fell into step behind Ryan.
Shawn sat in front of the dressing room mirror for God knows how long questioning his feelings and his motives. Then, on a whim, he thumbed through Ryan’s Instagram and Twitter. Lots of Hollywood premiere pics, pics of Ryan on the set, pics with fans, and pics of him laying by his pool in LA. No unicorns or rainbows. No gay pride pics or selfies with cute guys standing way too close to be straight friends but there was definitely a gay vibe coming through. Although Shawn was the first to admit his gaydar sucked ass.
There had been rumors about Ryan being gay. Ryan never confirmed or denied them. There were rumors about Shawn too, but unlike Ryan, Shawn denied the rumors in almost every interview he gave. The only problem was, in his case, the rumors were true, Shawn was gay…and way the hell at the back of the closet. For one reason. His fanbase.
If he confirmed the rumors—came out—it could be disastrous for his career. He was adored by millions of girls. Sure, he got tweets and letters from guys—some that were incredibly graphic in nature, but he couldn’t risk alienating his fans…or his record label. He had to be extremely careful. Shawn glanced at his watch.
He’d been sitting in front of the goddamned mirror for almost twenty minutes. “Fuck!” He exclaimed as he stripped naked and ran to the shower. Shawn hurried through his shower, scrubbing his face to make sure he’d gotten off all the make-up.
Freshly scrubbed, Shawn pulled on a pair of black low-rise trunks and turned toward the clothes he’d brought with him, trying to figure out what would be appropriate for a first date.
“It’s not a date,” he murmured to himself.
“Well, it sort of is,” said a voice behind him.
Shawn whirled around to see Ryan standing in the doorway that led, not to the hallway, but to another dressing room.
“I…knocked,” Ryan explained, “but I guess you didn’t hear.”
“How did you…?”
Ryan jerked a thumb toward the open door. “Our dressing rooms are connected,” he replied.
“I was wondering if the abs were airbrushed on,” Ryan quipped. “Nice to see that they’re real.”
Shawn realized that he wore only a very skimpy pair of Calvins. Millions of people saw his ads that nearly broke the internet, but right now it was just Ryan staring at his…growing bulge.
Shawn turned away, self-conscious.
Ryan grinned. “I can go back to my dressing room until you’re ready.” He started to turn back toward the door.
“No, it’s okay,” Shawn answered, hurriedly pulling on a pair of black skinny jeans and a black t-shirt. “Sorry I’m running behind. I got a little…distracted.”
“It’s cool,” Ryan shrugged as Shawn ran a black belt through his loops and then sat to pull on socks and boots.
Shawn stood and reached for a black leather jacket hanging nearby. “Ready,” he said.
Ryan smiled and nodded. “You look hot.”
Shawn flashed an embarrassed smile. “Thanks,” he replied.
Ryan pulled the door to his dressing room shut and opened the door to the hall. “Shall we. Mr. Nunez?”
Shawn nodded and stepped forward.
Shawn returned to the present and stared blankly ahead. “Wh-what?”
“We have arrived, sir.”
Shawn’s gaze shifted to stare out the Jag’s rear side window. They were in the private tunnel under Olympic Park. A security detail was waiting to escort him to his dressing room.
Shawn nodded to the driver. “Thank you.”
The driver nodded in return. “My pleasure, sir. Have a good show.”
Shawn nodded his thanks as he reached for the door pull and stepped from the Jag.
Shawn’s cheeks flushed crimson. Wyd?
Just wrapped shooting for the day. Hbu?
Concert just ended. In my dressing room chillin’ with a drink and looking at your Insta
Aw. You miss me
Shawn chuckled and thumbed his reply. Hell no! Get over yourself
Kidding. Love your pics!
Welcome. I wanna do something. You got plans tonight?
I’m headed back to the hotel to shower and hit the sack. Aren’t you wiped?
No. Got you on my mind…
Mmhmm. I wanna see you
Haha. You’re in Seoul and I’m here in Tokyo. How’s that gonna work exactly?
Seoul is only a couple hours from Japan…
I got an idea and I know it’s gonna sound crazy
I really wanna see you!
Seriously? So you’re gonna fly to Japan tonite to see me?
Two-hour flight and I’d be at your hotel…
You’re crazy. Lol
Last time we met…
It’s more than just friendship isn’t it?
So…you felt it, too. I didn’t just imagine it
Yes. I felt it too. You didn’t imagine it, babe
So, I have tomorrow off, and I’m headed back to the states the day after. I don’t wanna miss this chance to be with you. Both of our lives and our schedules are nuts. I’m always in the studio or touring and you’re shooting schedule is just as crazy.
I don’t know when I’ll get to see you again
It’ll only be a couple of hours and I’m about to leave. Do I need to convince you not to go to sleep? No, baby. You already did.
See you soon.
See you soon.
The Start of Something Beautiful
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