Excerpt of Star Light, Star Bright
Copyright © 2017 Siobhan Muir
All rights reserved.
“Stop Calling Me Honey.”
“You want me to what now?”
Henry Bright stared at his manager, his publicist, and the photographer trying to shoot his album cover with undisguised disgust.
“Oh, honey, don’t get so twitchy. I promise to make you look good.” The photog gave him a smarmy smile and a wink. “And I’ll save the naughty bits for later.”
Sweet Jesus, this guy is predatory. Henry scowled. He might be a country star who was out and proud, but that didn’t mean he was an easy fuck-toy for every gay predator from New York to New Orleans.
“Come on, Henry. It’ll be great.” His manager’s eyes sparkled. “You know sexy sells. All you have to do is take your clothes off and look over your shoulder with your guitar in front of your ass. Easy peasey, Japaneasy.”
“Yeah, but I’ll be fuckin’ oiled up like a goddamned drill rig.” One of Henry’s pet peeves took the form of grease on his body. He hated being sticky and he really didn’t want to be touched by any of the assistants drooling over in the corner, male or female. “Do you know how hard that shit is to get out of body hair?”
“Oh, don’t be so picky, honey. I’ll help you clean it out of all your hair anytime.” The photog winked again and licked his lips.
“Stop calling me ‘honey’.” Henry snarled and snapped his guitar case closed. “I ain’t doin’ it. Shit, they ain’t buyin’ my music in hopes they’ll fuck me. They’re buyin’ it because it’s good.”
“That’s not why I bought it.” The droll comment rolled out of the photog’s mouth with his lascivious look and Henry was done. He’d put up with this creep twice before, but this was it.
“Fuck you, all y’all.” Henry shook his head and picked up his case. “I’m outta here.”
He swung the case around, damn near hitting the make-up woman who’d gotten too close, and strode for the exit of the studio. Like fluttering birds, his publicist and manager squawked and flapped after him, calling his name. Henry ignored them as he headed for the door, but Jordie beat him there by nanoseconds.
“Henry, Henry, calm down. Come on.” Jordie stood with his back to the door, blocking Henry’s escape. “It’s just one photo shoot for your new cover and then it’ll be over.”
“They want me fuckin’ naked, Jordie.” He snarled at his manager. “I won’t be naked in front of that.” He lowered his voice and jabbed a finger back in the direction of the photog.
He might be a gay public figure, but he valued his privacy, what little he had, and he only showed his body to select people. He couldn’t control much, but he could control that.
“You don’t have to be completely naked. I’m sure we can find a thong or bikini briefs that will be hidden behind your guitar.” Jordie grasped Henry’s arm and turned him back toward the lights and cameras. “Come on. Think of how awesome it’ll look and how many albums it’ll sell. Everyone will be all over this shoot. And you’ll be so sexy, loved by men and women alike.”
Henry allowed himself to be hauled back to the set in front of the photog, who licked his lips with a victorious expression. Henry scowled and tightened his grip on his guitar case. If this asshole gets anywhere near me, I’ll beat him over the head with a bale hook. He still had one left over from the days on his uncle’s ranch in Wyoming, though it wasn’t close at hand.
“It’ll be fine. Come on. Ashley will help.” Jordie allowed a young, pimple-faced man to take the guitar case. “We’ll just get you undressed and it’ll be great. You’ll see. Ashley, take his jacket and shirt.”
Henry gritted his teeth and disrobed on his own, slapping away Ashley’s “helpful” hands. He got down to his Speedo-sized briefs he’d been wearing for his current fuck-buddy and stopped.
“Oh, come on, honey. Just take it all off. It’ll be easier.”
Ashley approached to do the honors, but Henry swung to face him and dropped his chin. “Touch me and you’ll learn why they call me the kick-ass cowboy.”
Ashley’s eyes widened and he held up both hands in surrender.
Henry switched his gaze to the guitar case and strode over to it as if fully dressed. “Let’s get this over with.” He pulled the guitar out and looped the strap over his shoulder before he carried it to stand in front of the cheesey sunset-backlighting-prairie backdrop they had for him.
“We’ll just oil you up and we’ll be ready.” The photog looked ready to come in his pants.
“Aw, come on. It’ll make you look…slick.”
“Try it and see how long I stand here.”
The photog huffed. “Fine.” He shook his head as if Henry was the most difficult artist he’d ever worked with, but Henry didn’t give a shit. He was doing this at the label’s request. If it was just him, he’d have called his good friend Lorenzo and took a few snapshots of him standing in the sunshine on a bridge somewhere.
“Stand there and look pretty. Now bring the guitar around to your back and face away from me. That’s it.”
Henry turned to face the backdrop and slung the guitar to his back.
“Good. Feet apart like you’re taking a piss and right foot a little ahead. That’s it.” The lighting people started moving the lights around while Henry positioned himself. “Good, now turn and look over your left shoulder at me and hold the guitar with your left hand. Yeah, good.”
The photog went to work snapping pictures and orders for how Henry should stand, where to put his arms, how to tilt his chin or head. They changed the lighting a few times and fluffed his shoulder-length hair, but he drew the line at make-up. They’d have to go with the real-deal Wyoming cowboy. That’s who he was and who he’d always be.