by TNL

I hate hotels. I seem doomed to spend my life in them.

My meeting was cancelled. I ride up in the elevator, my mind a blank. At the door to our room, the keycard in my hand, I hear it.

A woman's soft laugh. Joey's sexy croak. A gasp. It's so big, she giggles. She's not kidding.

It's so big.

I step away from the door, and slide down against the wall. I listen. I don't care who sees me.

They really get into it. Is that what we sound like when we fuck? Not so soprano, probably. A couple of tenors, going at it. Oh, Joe, oh, yeah.

When they finish, the sorry minutes tick by, but then the mood in our room changes. “Oh, shit,” the lady says, “I've got to go. I'm sorry. It was great, Joe. You're amazing.” I hear you, honey.

I get up from my post. There is always an ice machine in these places, hidden off in a service area. I go hide.

I'm assuming Joey will take her downstairs. I'm right.

In our room, I lie down on my untouched bed. Joe's bed is a mess. No shit.

* * *

When Joey returns, I am lying on the bed with my eyes closed. He freezes in the doorway, then cautiously enters the room, silently shutting the door behind him. He's wondering if I know.

“Why, Joe?”

I open my eyes. He didn't run a comb through his hair. He looks the way he looks after we've had sex. Just the same.

I sit up and swing my legs over the side of the bed. “I'm leaving. We'll talk later.”

My hand is on the door. Joey still hasn't spoken.

“Don't go.”

“What's keeping me here?”

He doesn't have an answer.

So I leave.

* * *

Lance takes me in. He holds me while I cry, the broken phrases spilling out. I am trying to understand, but I can't grasp it. Well. I don't want to grasp it.

My Joey is a flirt. I know that.

But we're together. That's true.

Isn't it?

* * *

I can't talk to Joe. It's too bad, really: we're on tour, and we have performances and interviews and photo shoots. We have no time to sit and stew. Of course, we make the time. But it's difficult: we can't do our usual act for the press. Who knew we were such good actors?

The others cover for us. Maybe Justin has a future in films, after all.

* * *

We have one whole free day. It seems unbelievable to me.

I dread it. I really need to talk to Joe.

* * *

I knock on his hotel room door. For the past few days, I've been crashing with Lance.

“Come in.”


I go sit on the sofa by the window. The distance between us, measured in feet, is so small. It would be easy to cross the room to him.

This feels better. This feels right.

“I guess I'd like an explanation.” I have rehearsed the words. They still ring with pain.

“I met her at the Virgin Megastore. She does PR for them. We talked, and I asked if I could buy her a drink. I guess I got into it; the flirting, I mean. So we were walking, and we passed the hotel, and I asked her up, and she said yes.” Joe lies down on his side, his body curving into a C. There is still something big between us.

After a moment, he continues. “I'm into women.” As if I didn't know. “And I missed it. The sex.” Involuntarily, I nod once. “It's different. It still turns me on. I wanted … I wanted to know.” He groans. “That's a sucky explanation. Chris? Please? I'm sorry; you don't know how sorry.”

He doesn't stress the words. They just come out. That makes it better, somehow.

I want to be closer to him. I just do. So I get up and cross the floor to the other bed. I lie down on my side.

“OK. I think you've seen how much this has hurt me.” His nod is shaky. “I don't know how to forgive you. I mean, I want to. I love you, Joe. What hurts is, you told me you loved me. And I think you do.”

“I do, Chris. God, I do.”

“Thanks. It takes some getting used to. I don't want to be lied to. If you fuck around, I want to know.” I put my hand up. “You didn't lie. And I wish…,” and now my voice breaks, “and I wish you hadn't done it, and I don't know what I could do if you ever did it again.” I put my head down on the bed.

The bed sags under Joey's weight. Gently, he pushes me forward so he can fit on the bed with me.

“It's not going to happen again.”

I can't play this game. “How is that?” My voice is hoarse. “How can I believe that? It's who you are, Joe. You fuck around.”

His arm strokes mine.

“It won't happen if I don't want it to happen.”

That's true. I close my eyes, tight. If I wish, really hard, it might come true.

Joe puts his head close to mine. I can feel his lips, filling the space between our bodies.

“I'd better not promise you anything, Chris. It's always better not to break promises.”

Like the one about I'll always love you. The one about not cheating. Implicit promises, maybe. How do you want me to spell it out for you?

Joey spoons me. It's turning me on. It's been more than a week. I need my Joey fix.

“I'd like you to apologize some more, Joey. You know, make it a habit. Right now, I want to talk about your punishment.” My voice is neutral. “All the guys have been great to me. I want you to apologize to each of them for making them deal with my shit, not to mention yours.”

I turn over in his arms. He nods. That's fair.

“Now. The rest of your punishment. I've been thinking about this. You flirt too much, and it hurts. You're too horny. So this is your punishment. I'm hoping you'll like it. You have to have so much sex with me that you don't have the strength to look at any one else. I only want you to sing and dance and fuck me.

“Starting now.”

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