M. Crane Hana © 2016
All rights reserved
Above the din of subway crowds and canned music, Leo heard a thread of sound so lovely and incongruous he stopped in the turnstile. Somewhere out on the platform amid the echoing tiles and concrete, someone attempted Gershwin. On a violin. Rather well. From only a few bars, Leo placed Porgy and Bess.
“Sir? Are you okay?” said one voice among the stalled commuters behind him.
Then another: “Get moving, man. We don’t got all morning!”
Leo risked some nastier comments when he backed out of the line. He “accidentally” rapped the angriest of the commenters with his briefcase on the way. Once free, he stopped caring about the subway, his job, and the meeting. Only the music mattered, as it shifted into “Rhapsody in Blue” before he rounded a corner.
A broad-shouldered young man in worn khakis and a tan flannel shirt made love to a violin. Rapt, swept up in a world of his own, the violinist paid little attention to the commuters hurrying along. The black vinyl instrument case lay open at his feet, its scarlet lining forlornly framing a few scattered one-dollar bills.
Leo felt insulted on his behalf. Then he looked beyond the young man’s beautiful hands to his face.
Freckled ivory skin. Short red-gold curls brushing against a clean-shaven square jaw. A full mouth currently set in concentration and such long copper eyelashes, fluttering half-closed in musical ecstasy! Leo had seen the man before, but couldn’t place where or when.
The violinist lifted his chin and stared right at Leo, through him, seeing only the music. Until Leo moved, and the other man’s pale blue-green gaze went from Leo’s face to the scarf draped around Leo’s shoulders. One note, not quite missed, revealed the violinist’s sudden intake of breath. Then he smiled hesitantly over the last bars of “Rhapsody.”
Leo recognized the violinist’s incongruous tie, the fall of ice-blue silk jacquard woven in the same crystalline Art Deco pattern bordering the scarf. His husband, Andrew, had commissioned them together, two ties and two scarves, matching a motif they’d both loved since honeymooning in Barcelona. It wasn’t likely the old haberdasher had made a duplicate set since then.
So, Andrew gave the boy his tie? Leo shuffled through possibilities, settled on “they already know each other,” and waited for a sick jolt of jealousy to claw up his spine. He and Andrew, they’d had their rough patches early on. What couple hadn’t? Instead, low heat settled in Leo’s belly, as he thought of his husband and this young man together.
Where the hell did that come from? He’d known about Andrew’s rare, careful trysts. A one-man guy, Leo had never wanted to be involved in them before.
The redhead was something special, and oh, that music! No wonder Andrew had been frisky. Andrew’s recovering libido was a gift Leo wanted to experience over and over, whatever the cause.
He could so clearly imagine his husband and this milky-skinned musician, twined together in bed. God, yes. If it had already happened, good for them. If it hadn’t, it needed to happen. Preferably with Leo in the room. Hell, in the bed, please.
He swallowed and forced himself to fall back into the music. Leo swallowed, trying to throttle down this new, overwhelming need.
Train cars emptied, a few more people paused for a moment or three, but the latest crowd didn’t break ranks in their march toward the subway exits. Finally, Leo and the violinist were alone on the platform.
After one final trill of music, the redhead lifted his bow from the strings. “Mr. Leo Ellson?” he asked in a Northern Irish lilt, before swallowing.