Genre: Contemporary, M/M
Newly transplanted Seattle resident Martin Benson is on a sight-seeing tour of museums and the Space Needle when he meets handsome, heavily tattooed Chase Reed. They hit it off, and Chase offers to show Marty his Seattle: grunge rock and good times.
The men are total opposites, with only one thing in common -- an intense attraction to each other, which culminates in a weekend of white hot passion. Desperate to hang on to the new relationship, Martin attempts to change wild and crazy Chase into someone more responsible. Will he be able to give Chase the space he needs, and somehow strike a balance?
Six hundred and five feet in the air, the flying saucer sat atop massive steel beam legs. Martin Benson stared up at the structure with awe. The outline had been a recognizable part of the Seattle skyline for the past forty-five years, but he'd never seen the Space Needle up close. It was an amazing sight.
People said the view from the top was even more incredible, but he didn't intend to find out. The twenty dollar price tag didn't put him off, though that would buy him a week's worth of lunches. The internal elevator took only forty-three seconds from bottom to top, so time wasn't a factor. The problem was his lifelong, irrational fear of heights. He broke into a cold sweat just thinking about ascending the tower. He'd been in town for three months, and had never actually visited the popular tourist attraction.
Every weekend when he spoke with his mother in St. Louis, she asked what he did for fun. There hadn't been much to tell, and he felt a little guilty about it. She'd been so excited when he graduated college and took a job on the west coast. His family wanted to hear about the city, not the view from his desk and computer screen.
It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday, so he decided to take advantage and see some sights. Summer would soon be over, and while it didn't get as cold in Washington as it did Missouri, he heard it could be incredibly wet and nasty at times.
There was a lot to see, more ground than he could cover in a day. The Seattle Art Museum, with its outdoor branch on the banks of Puget Sound, interested him. It would probably require a day all on its own, so he left it on his list of things to do.
Something drew him to Seattle Center, the large festive area around the Space Needle. There was plenty to do there, all within walking distance. There were dozens of souvenir shops in the courtyard, and he browsed through several. A lot of their stuff was on the junky side. Cheap t-shirts, key chains, and shot glasses seemed the normal fare. He knew his mother and sister would like anything he got, but hoped to find something decent.
The last shop he passed had some t-shirts displayed that seemed nicer than the others. He window-shopped for a moment, then went inside. The shirts were a better quality than he'd seen before, and reasonably priced. A pink one with the Space Needle logo looked perfect for his sister. He found a lavender shirt with Seattle embroidered across the front, and smiled. It looked exactly like something his mother would wear.
Scooping up the two shirts, he headed toward the dark-haired man standing behind the cash register. Just as he got there, the phone on the counter rang. The clerk smiled at him apologetically. "Hang on one second?"
"Sure, go ahead." He nodded, watching the man take the call.
"Broad Street Gifts. Yep. Oh, hey." He turned his back to continue the conversation.
A flash of irritation struck Martin, but as he noticed several very large tattoos on the man, irritation turned to intrigue. A tight black tank top didn't hide much; it was hard not to stare. He couldn't quite make out the design, but the ink spread from the man's upper back across both shoulders, and ended at his biceps.
The muscles alone were stare-worthy. The guy definitely had the physique to wear the tank—the really tight tank. Martin looked away, self-conscious, then slowly back again. The clerk was still on the phone, oblivious to him, so what could it hurt to ogle a little? He was in the middle of a long, dry spell.
Dating in a new town was always tough, but even trickier for a gay man. Office romances were out of the question. He'd done some nosing around and discovered a couple of gay bars, but both were sleazy as hell. They were the kind of places where men met in the bathroom for quick hook-ups. He wasn't interested in that at all.
"Thanks for calling." The clerk hung up, then smiled at him again. "I'm really sorry about that. Hope you weren't in a hurry."
"Not at all." He forced himself to speak coherently. The man was even better looking from the front. His thick, shaggy black hair framed his face, hitting just above his collar. When he brushed the bangs from his eyes, Martin noticed a silver bar pierced through the guy's right eyebrow. "Wow. Did that hurt?"
"The eyebrow thing."
He touched the bar absently. "Shit, I forget about it. Nah, it didn’t hurt. Not as much as this one." He stuck out his tongue, where a round silver stud shone from the center.
"Jesus!" Martin muttered.
The other man laughed. "I'm not afraid of a little pain."
"Apparently not!" His eyes darted to one bicep, where from the front he could make out a hunter with a bow and arrow.
"I love tattoos." The guy grinned. "I have eleven. Some in places that might surprise you."Martin felt his face flush. "Eleven, wow. I'm impressed."
"That's why I do it, to impress the guys." He chuckled.
Martin tried to read the meaning behind the comment, but couldn't tell if it'd been sarcastic or not. This guy was gorgeous—a little out there, sure, if he really did have eleven tattoos. But his eyes were dark brown saucers, deep and soulful looking. There was a cleft in his chin. Martin didn't know exactly why, but it was the sexiest thing he'd ever seen. He was sure most women thought the same. This fellow could have anyone he wanted, no doubt about that.
"You ready to check out?" The clerk glanced at the t-shirts.
"Oh, yeah." Martin laid them on the counter. "You have nice stuff in here. Some of those other places were pretty cheap-looking."
"Thanks." He folded each shirt, ringing the prices into his register. "That'll be thirty-two fifty."
Martin handed over his credit card, and the man completed the sale.
"Sign please, and here's your receipt. Thank you."
"Yeah, thanks." He took his card, reinserting it into his wallet. Reaching for the bag, he hesitated, not in a hurry to leave.
Seeming to sense it, the man asked, "Where you visiting from?"
"I, uh, live here now. I'm from St. Louis."
"No kidding? What brought you all the way out here?"
"I got a computer job here after college."
"Ah, Silicon Valley. They suck a lot of people into their web—I mean—they hire lots of folks."
Martin smiled. "They pay pretty well, though the cost of living is higher out here. I can't believe the price of soda pop."
"I can't believe you called it soda pop." He rolled his eyes, grinning.
"Sorry. You can take the boy out of the Midwest…"
"Yeah, yeah, I hear ya. So what are you doing in the tourist district, if you live here now?"
"I've never done any sight-seeing stuff, and I figured it was about time. Decided I'd make a day of it. I went to the Science Fiction Museum—"
Nodding, the man asked, "Go up in the Needle?"
"Not yet. I was going to go 'Ride the Ducks'." The World War II amphibious vehicles were huge, and painted yellow. It was a little cheesy, but supposedly a pretty good tour of the area.
He made a face. "That's lame, man. Unless you're ready to say 'quack, quack' all through town."
Martin's face drooped. "They make you say 'quack quack'?"
"Or pay two bucks for a quacker. They're big on group interaction, kind of a kiddie thing. If I were you, I'd skip the ducks. What else do you have planned?"
"Well, there's Pike's Place Market, and I haven't been to the art museum yet."
The man made a motion like he was strangling himself. "You've got to be kidding! Who are you with, your eighty-year-old grandma?"
"I'm alone." He shrugged.
"If you want to get a feel for the real Seattle, you need to take in some clubs, hear some bands. You know we're the home of grunge rock music, don’t you?"
"I thought grunge rock was dead."
"Are you crazy? Pearl Jam released a new album not too long ago, and Nirvana will never go out of style."
"Nirvana? I know Kurt Cobain's dead."
"Cobain's like the Beatles, man. Dead or alive, the music lives on. Those are just some mainstream names. We've had some great local talent here, too. Alice in Chains, Green River…classics."
Martin smiled. "So grunge isn’t dead, Seattle's just hiding it from the rest of the world."
"You got it. I could take you places you wouldn't believe."
No truer words were probably ever spoken. He glanced at the man wistfully. It was crazy thinking about going out with a perfect stranger. And going out where? Seattle was a big city, he wasn't used to the same things this guy obviously was. He could find himself in a bad situation.
The man eyed him, seeming to get that he was wrestling with himself. "Tell you what. I'll give you an address. If you feel like listening to some music, be there about nine o'clock. I'll leave your name at the door; you won't even have to pay to get in. It'll be fun, I guarantee it. My friends are great."
"Maybe." It sounded simple enough, perhaps he could consider it.
Picking up a business card from the stack on the counter, the clerk wrote a name and address on the back. He handed the card over. "Here's the address. Easiest thing to do is take a cab. There's my name. Ask the bouncer for me."
He glanced at the card. "Chase Reed." Then he looked up. "That's you?"
"That's me. How about you? What name should I leave at the door?"
"Martin Benson." He shuffled his feet nervously.
"Okay. So, whaddaya say, Marty? Think you'll be there?"
"Nobody calls me Marty."
Chase grinned. "Nine o'clock?"
Until that moment, he hadn't been sure about going. The whole idea made him nervous. For some reason, Chase's smile reassured him. "Yeah, nine o'clock."