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Hollywood royalty Jeremy Jameson has lived a sheltered life with music as his sole focus and only friend. Before embarking on yet another international concert tour, he wanders into a bar in what he considers the middle of nowhere and meets a man who wins him over with his friendly smile and easy-going nature. Accountant slash bartender slash adventure-seeker Reg Moore has fun talking and drinking with The Jeremy Jameson and can’t say no when the supposedly straight rock star makes him a once in a lifetime offer: keep him company on his tour by playing the part of his boyfriend.
Listening to music, traveling the world, and jumping off cliffs is fun. Falling in love is even better. But to stay with Jeremy after the stage lights dim, Reg will need to help him realize there’s nothing pretend about their relationship.
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WITH THE worn-to-hell baseball cap pulled low over his face, Jeremy Jameson walked into the bar. At least he assumed it was a bar, based on the lopsided sign out front that simply said “Bar” in peeling red paint and the stench of beer and cigarette smoke that permeated the air. The interior space wasn’t any cleaner or hipper than the parking lot.
Jeremy tried to remember the last time he had been in a club or bar or restaurant that wasn’t sleek with carefully positioned lighting and well-maintained fixtures. Never. The answer to that question was never. Even musicians who started on the bottom and worked their way up probably wouldn’t have come to a dive like this; it was too small, too out of the way, and it didn’t have a stage or any room to set up equipment.
Internally lecturing himself for thinking about work when he was supposed to be taking time for himself, he forced himself to stop focusing on music and start focusing on beer. A place like this probably wouldn’t have imports or microbrews. Maybe he’d ask for whatever they had on tap and call it done. Easier to blend in that way.
“What can I get you?” the whiskey-voiced bartender asked the second Jeremy slid his butt onto the stool.
“A pint of whatever you have on tap.”
“Coming right up.”
Tugging the hat lower to make sure his famous green eyes were shadowed, Jeremy glanced around. It was early—seven o’clock on a Tuesday night—so the place was empty save for a table in back where a couple seemed to be arguing. Although for all he knew, the bar could be that empty every night. He’d never find out, because he had no plans to return to Munds Park, Arizona. The town didn’t have a concert arena, and Jeremy couldn’t think of any other reason to be there.
“Here you go, man.” The bartender slid the cool glass in front of him and then wiped his hands on the towel he had tucked into his baggy Levi’s. “So what brings you in tonight? Passing through town or looking to hide from the world?”
Both, actually, and the fact that the stranger knew that sent Jeremy’s stomach dropping. He jerked his head up, which meant the man could see his eyes, and then he darted his gaze around the bar, fully expecting to find a gang of paparazzi equipped with cameras and microphones. Instead he saw the same grungy brown walls, scratched wood tables, and sticky concrete floor.
“Hey, I didn’t mean anything by it,” the bartender said good-naturedly. He patted Jeremy’s shoulder. “Just shootin’ the shit, you know?” He waved his hand around the bar slowly. “It’s pretty dead in here.”
Realizing his overreaction to the innocuous comment was obvious, Jeremy felt his cheeks heat. His attempt at being normal had pretty much consisted of hiding in less glamorous locations than his usual haunts and sitting in the driver’s seat of a rented sedan instead of the back of a luxury car or tour bus or private plane. Same life, different scenery.
Drawing in a deep breath, he met the bartender’s gaze, figuring he had either already blown his attempt at going incognito, or the dim light in the space combined with his well-placed hat were offering sufficient cover to keep his face hidden. “Sorry. I, uh, didn’t mean to….” He had no idea how to finish his sentence without admitting the reason for his strange behavior.
“No sweat, man,” the bartender said easily. He rubbed his hand over the back of his closely shorn brown hair and grinned. “Everyone needs space once in a while.” He started walking toward the other end of the bar, presumably to give Jeremy exactly that. “Holler when you’re ready for another drink.”
The booted feet had taken only two steps before Jeremy inexplicably said, “Both.”
His eyebrows arched in question, the guy looked back over his broad shoulder, his brown eyes focused on Jeremy.
Usually he didn’t like having people stare at him, but the bartender had seemed genuinely interested in chatting with him. He didn’t know who Jeremy was, so that meant his interest wasn’t in selling information to the magazines or gathering facts like a scientist examining a bug. He just wanted to talk. It was refreshing.
“You asked if I was passing through town or if I was looking to hide from the world.” Lowering his gaze, Jeremy swallowed hard and said, “I’m doing both.”
“Yeah?” The man turned on his heel and returned. “Cool. Where’re you from?”
A simple question. Relaxing at the novelty of it, he kept looking the guy in the face. “California.”
“Northern or Southern?” the bartender asked. “I was in a frat in college, and we had a bunch of guys from Cali.” He shrugged. “Guess our out-of-state tuition’s lower than your in-state. Anyway, the NoCal-SoCal rivalry was legendary.”