Tabloid Star

an excerpt

Chapter One

Josh tossed his backpack in Rachel's office, checked his clothes in the mirror next to the door and headed out to the front. Sliding behind the bar, he smiled at Tammy, the bartender he was replacing.

"How's it been tonight?" He grabbed a bottle of Jameson and poured out a shot for the guy closest to him.

"Just starting to pick up. It should be a busy one for you. Thanks, hon." She winked at the man leaving her a tip. "Hey, thanks for getting here early. Maria's picking me up here and we're going to hit the new club that opened down the street."

"You and Maria still pretty hot and heavy, huh?" He didn't skip a beat as he drew two pints of Guinness and mixed a screwdriver.

"God, that girl can kiss. I've never had a lover who loves kissing like her and what she can do with her tongue."

"Whoa there...TMI, Tammy. If I wanted to hear about chicks having sex, I'd be straight." He chuckled as she flipped him off. "Go on, get out of here. I've got this covered and Pete's coming in at twelve."

Tammy squealed and hugged him. "You're the best, Josh. I take back all those nasty things I told Simpson about you."

"No wonder the newbie was looking at me weird the other night."

He spent the next half-hour getting into the swing of serving drinks, flirting with the customers and keeping the bar clean. He was grateful he only had to work his morning job before coming to the Lucky Seven, where he'd work until three in the morning. The days he had to work all three of his jobs were hell, but he did what he had to do to survive.

The Lucky Seven was one of the best kept secrets in West Hollywood, which was saying something, considering nothing stayed a secret in any part of Hollywood for long. Soon the club was packed, bodies grinding on the dance floor to the driving beat of the music. The drink orders were coming fast and furious, but Josh was an expert on crazy nights and kept up easily.

He acknowledged Pete's arrival with a nod, not breaking stride as he mixed martinis and cosmos for the waitresses.

"Good looking crowd tonight," Pete commented as he passed by, heading for the ice chest.

A quick glance around and Josh agreed. "It is, but then again when isn't it? I don't think ugly people are allowed in WeHo, Pete."

Grabbing a towel, he dried the sweat off his head before tossing it on the shelf behind him. A commotion at the other end of the bar caught his attention and he moved toward the two men standing there. He didn't usually break up fights, but since the place was crowded and it would take a few minutes for the bouncers to get there, he'd see if he could defuse the situation first.

"You're a jackass, Bill." The taller of the two men growled, a frown marring his face.

"Maybe so, Ry, but at least I'm not a chicken shit." Bill slugged Ry's arm.

"Don't hit me." Ry shoved the other man away. "A chicken shit? What the fuck are you talking about?"

Bill grabbed the edge of the bar before he could slam into the girl standing behind him. "Yes, a chicken shit. You always look, but you never touch. You're too scared of the consequences to do anything you really want to do." Bill waved his hand, seeming to encompass the entire club. "So many choices, yet you'll go home alone. At least I won't."

Josh got there before Ry could land the punch he was swinging. "Hey, guys, can I get you something to drink?"

Bill's hazy blue eyes met his with a smirk. "Yeah, liquid courage might help my friend get lucky tonight."

Ignoring the sarcastic tone in Bill's voice, Josh made a point of checking Ry out. He admitted to himself he liked what he saw. Ry was tall with a lean muscular build, more like a runner than a weight lifter. The baseball cap Ry wore made it hard to tell what color his hair was and the sunglasses hid the color of his eyes, but his tight black jeans and dark blue T-shirt gave Josh a hint at Ry's body. Josh's cock twitched, interested even though Josh didn't tend to take customers home.

"Well, I don't know about needing any liquid courage. If your friend's looking for something, I'm sure he could find it quite easily here."

Josh winked at Ry and a surprised grin crossed the man's face. Shaking his head, Bill nudged Ry with his shoulder.

"See, I said you could have anyone you wanted in this club. Why not live a little and celebrate?" Bill picked up his beer and gestured into the crowd. "I'm going over to talk to that curvy redhead. I hope you brought cab fare, buddy, because we won't be leaving together."

Ry scowled, but mumbled, "Go get her, stud, and don't worry. I have money."

They watched Bill weave his way through the crush of people until he disappeared. Josh looked back at Ry to find the man studying him. Ry slid his sunglasses down and looked over them, tracing the length of Josh's body. Josh swore he felt heat from each part of his skin those dark brown eyes touched. The desire blazing in that glance told Josh Ry was looking for someone different than Bill was.

"You want something to drink?" His question came out husky and he swallowed, trying to wet his suddenly dry throat.

"Drink? Sure, I'll take a whiskey, neat."

Josh forced himself to walk away and grab a glass. He could feel Ry's gaze burning into his back as the man eyed his ass. Taking a bottle of the top-shelf whiskey, he filled a high ball glass and handed it to Ry, who slid his fingers along Josh's as he took the drink, shooting lust and blood to Josh's groin.

"Fuck," Josh whispered.

"Thanks." Ry's pink tongue peeked out, wetting his plump bottom lip and drawing Josh's attention to it.

Josh groaned and adjusted his cock, searching for room in his too-tight jeans. "What exactly are you looking for, honey? I'll be happy to accommodate you, but you have to be sure."

Ry checked him out again, his eyes lingering at the growing bulge at Josh's groin. Hesitation colored Ry's words when he leaned forward and whispered, "I think you know what I'm looking for."

He could tell Ry didn't pick up men often, or probably not at all by the way the man's gaze darted away from him the moment he uttered that statement.

"Pete, can you handle it for ten minutes while I take my break?" Josh didn't look away from Ry, shouting his question over his shoulder toward the other bartender.

"Sure, Josh. I've got it." The smile in Pete's voice told Josh his friend knew what was going on between him and Ry.

He moved from behind the bar, gestured for Ry to follow him and made his way through the crowd toward the back of the club. Josh hit the back exit door at almost a run, letting the metal door slam open as he yanked Ry through the doorway. As the door shut, he pinned the man to the brick wall and kissed him.