I’m Pender Mackie. Since it’s contemporary month at Guys Like Romance, Too! I get to tell you a little bit about my contemporary m/m romance, Stage Fright.
The story is a full-length novel about a closeted Las Vegas exotic dancer who falls for an out and proud bartender. My plot bunny came from a Ladies’ Night fundraiser, which let me tell you was a real eye opener; more for the audience’s behavior than the dancers’ performances. Those ladies were touchy feely.
I couldn’t stop thinking about my imaginary couple. Why was the dancer closeted? How would it feel to see your lover surrounded by vacationing, excited women and be unable to touch him yourself?
Jesse and Val don’t have it easy, but it’s a romance, so I don’t think I’m giving away too much when I say they do get their happy ending.
Stage Fright Blurb:
After six months dancing in a Las Vegas all-male revue, Jesse Snowe is used to being groped by enthusiastic females, but he's more interested in Val, the sexy new bartender. Jesse's tired of the closet, but when he thinks of coming out he gets stage fright. The thought of telling his fellow dancers he's gay makes his palms sweat and his heart race and not in a good way. Dating Val under the watchful eyes of the dance captain could reveal Jesse's secret and might be more of a gamble than Jesse's willing to take.
For Val Tremain the glamor of Vegas is wearing thin. He's even less enamored with his new job, but knowing he'll see Jesse's beautiful body makes it easier to go to work. When Jesse hints he's interested Val can't believe his luck. But Jesse's latest dance routine encourages a little too much audience participation and Val struggles with jealousy.
Jesse knows his job's hard on their relationship and being closeted doesn't help. Strangers slap his butt every night, yet he's afraid to touch his lover in public. If he wants this relationship to work Jesse may have to reveal more than just his body.
Jesse watched Chaz, their dance captain, work his magic. Chaz was an old hand at stripping and made it look so easy. He had a woman from a bachelorette party up onstage. She reached around and gripped his ass hard, her fingers digging into tanned flesh. Chaz pulled her to her feet. Jesse could see his muscular ass bunch and flex as Chaz mimed grinding against her.
Jesse looked over at the bar and sighed. The new bartender was wiping the counter. He wasn’t even watching the show. Maybe the new guy wasn’t gay after all. The guy behind the bar seemed more interested in dirt than dancers.
Jesse scrambled into his next costume, then nodded to Eric, their MC, from the side of the stage. “And now, ladies. Here’s the newest member of our revue and the baby of the group, Firefighter Jesse.”
Jesse bounced onstage to shouts and catcalls. He did a couple of backflips, then slapped on his helmet. His routine went off without a hitch, but as usual he needed to mentally gear himself up for the finale. He grabbed the crotch of his tear-away turnouts and yanked them off, leaving him in nothing but his T-bar. After six months of working as a dancer, he still felt kind of stupid wearing the minuscule thong, but he was grateful for the no-nudity policy. It helped him maintain the illusion that he still had some dignity. He spied a table that didn’t have too many drinks on it and jumped into the crowd.
The audience loved it. Jesse danced the length of the table, shaking his ass for the screaming women—and saw the bartender watching. He faltered, then recovered, leaping lightly off the table, squeezing through the press of bodies. He smiled and high-fived outstretched palms on his way as other hands reached for his chest, his butt, even trying for his package. His ass was slapped at least three times before he managed to return to the stage.
“Let’s hear it for Jesse. Who wants Jesse to put out their fire?” Eric asked the enthusiastic audience.
Backstage Mike threw Jesse a towel. “Holy shit, they’re wild tonight. I wasn’t sure you were going to make it back in one piece.”
Jesse wiped the sweat from his face and chest. “Me neither.” He shook his head, smiling. “Gives a whole new meaning to audience participation.”