1 Chapter 1

It was a beautiful fall day in early October. The sun shone brightly through the windows as I worked that Friday afternoon on a piece of music. One of my voice students was having difficulty with a song that he usually performed to perfection.

“Let’s try it again, Tristan.”

I played the intro to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” once more. He took a deep breath and sang the opening line of the first verse. He was very good, normally. Tristan Morris had a clear, strong tenor and a great falsetto. But his attempts to emulate Steven Tyler were far below par today. After a minute of listening to his half-hearted performance, I stopped playing the keyboard.

“Okay, okay, enough.” I swiveled on my stool and studied him. Tristan had a troubled look on his face that made me sigh internally. Some days, I felt more like a life therapist to my students than a music instructor.

“Have a seat, hon, and tell me what’s wrong.”

He ran a hand through his hair and sank down on one of the chairs next to a music stand. “I feel like this is a big mistake,” he said. “It’s the most important day of my life. What if I mess up and Blaine hates it?”

Here we go again with the pre-wedding jitters

“You won’tmess up, Tristan. Your wedding is on Sunday and it will be amazing. No matter how you sound—which will be fabulous, once you get your head out of your ass—your husband-to-be will be absolutely delighted. Iwould be, if I were he.” And I meant that. I would give my right hand—well, maybe just the nail of the pinky finger—to find the kind of love Tristan had with the man of his dreams.

I’d been in and out of enough relationships to despair of ever finding theone. It was hard to describe the man I wanted to marry, but in a vague way, I pictured him as a musician of sorts, with a flamboyant air, over-confident demeanor, and a good heart. After years of disappointment, with my last boyfriend being a spectacular fuck-up, I’d pretty much given up and decided that music would be my life partner.

Tristan chuckled and relaxed a little. “It is his favorite song.” He nibbled on a cuticle.

“Exactly! That’s why this is a win-win situation. No matter what happens—and nothing will—he’ll absolutely love it, especially since you’re the one singing it. It will be perfect, you’ll see.”

“You really think so, Jared?” Tristan looked at me, reluctantly hopeful.

“I knowso. I’ll be there to accompany you and cheer you on.” Tristan had hired me to do the music for his wedding, too. I supplemented my income on weekends and holidays doing events. “Now, let’s do this right, like I know you can. Pretend I’m Blaine, and this is your wedding day.”

I turned back to the keys and replayed the introduction to the song. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Tristan stand and move to my left as I reached the beginning of the first verse. This time when he sang, his confidence was evident, and his voice soared, sending chills down my spine.

Now, that’s more like it.

Blaine was a very lucky man

* * * *

I loved my students—even the ones who seemed to be tone-deaf or all thumbs on their instruments. The end of the day, however, was always welcome. I closed the door to the music room and wandered to the kitchen.

I worked out of my two-story home, with living quarters upstairs. The downstairs area was usually a free-for-all where students, guests, and friends who happened to drop by either hung out for a while, or stayed over. Thankfully, no one was around at the moment. I could use some time to myself since the weekend was going to be a busy one.

As I grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator, my cell phone buzzed in my pocket. I took it out and glanced at the caller ID. Sighing, I answered it, then hit the speaker button before setting the mobile on the table.

“Hey, Joey. What’s up?” I opened the bottle and took a few swallows.

“Jared! I need you, hon.”

Joey Seever was an ex-boyfriend—the spectacular fuck-up I mentioned before. He was very self-involved, though he was handsome and charming, as well as a kick-ass musician, which had been my downfall. Things had been great for a while, but then I’d finally realized that it would always be about Joey Seever, and no one else. So I broke it off. I still had feelings for the man, to my detriment. His brash self-confidence was a huge turn-on, and he was damned sexy. Christ

“What now?” I could guess why he was calling.

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