Music was his heart and soul. It would never not be a part of his life. But he was ready for something different, whatever that “something” looked like. It was a vague, nameless something that poked at the back of his brain like a child lazily poking at a drum set.
He had tour dates and venues for this summer to firm up with his tour manager, and although he loved performing, the thought of touring made him slump back against the wall.
Twisting open the bottle cap, Felix chugged half his water, mopping up a drop that spilled onto his chin with the back of his hand. Fuck, he couldn’t wait to get home, even though Vancouver in January was as dreary as Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3. He had a house in LA too, in Playa del Rey, but Vancouver was home. He wanted to sleep in his own bed, visit with his parents and younger sister, help out at his mentor’s after-school musical theater program, and spend time with Emery.
His phone rang, and he pulled it out of his pocket. Well, speak of the devil. Emery Stanton read his caller ID next to a photo of his childhood best friend’s face, and Felix’s heart skipped a beat, an automatic smile pulling his lips upward despite his exhaustion. Felix remembered snapping that picture. “Smile,” he’d said one day when they—along with their other best friend, Kris—had been strolling along Vancouver’s Seawall a couple of summers ago, and instead Emery had made a kissy face.
“I was going for pouty and sexy,” Emery had explained, but the result was that he looked like he’d eaten a lemon.
Felix swiped to answer the video call. “Hey, Em.”
“Oh, hey.” Dark eyes flared in what Felix wanted to believe was pleasure but was probably surprise. “I thought you were still doing the show. I was going to leave you a message.”
“We just wrapped up,” Felix said. “What’s up?”
Felix waited out a whole ten seconds of silence where they did nothing but stare at each other. Emery scratched his bristly jaw. Felix sipped more water. Amusement tickling the back of his throat, he finally said, “What was your message going to be about, then?”
“Oh, nothing. I was going to ramble on about the latest movie I saw with the guys just so you didn’t forget the sound of my voice.”
The guys being his friends on his NHL team.
Felix rolled his eyes. “I haven’t been gone that long.”
“It’s been two weeks, Fe. You disappeared right after New Year’s. I miss your face.”
Felix did not let that go to his head—or his heart. This was just Emery being Emery. “You were in Winnipeg playing a New Year’s game, and then in New York, then Colorado. If I’d have been home, we wouldn’t have seen each other anyway.”
Emery scowled. “That’s not the point.”
“What is the point?”
“The point is that it’s the middle of January and I haven’t even said ‘Happy New Year’ to you in person yet.”
“Oh, the horror.”
“Sarcasm is unbecoming,” Emery quipped, quite primly.