When misfortune ended Max Mayler’s career as a singer, he bought The Showtime Bar, an establishment with a long history of giving aspiring artists an opportunity to showcase their talents. It’s where Max got his chance, and he wants to continue the tradition.
Jay Ferman has the exceptional voice and the sexy good looks to make it big, and although he’s been performing every Saturday night for weeks, no one pays him any attention. It could be canned music for all they seem to know or care.
Max quickly realizes the problem is Jay’s failure to truly connect with his audience. But, as Max tells one of his servers, he operates a bar and not a school for wannabees. He likes Jay, but his performance deficit is none of Max’s business.
But will Max make it his business and give Jay some much-needed advice, especially after the men connect in a very personal way?
Genres: Gay/Contemporary/The Arts
Heat Level: 2
Length: Extended Amber Kiss (16k words)
Read a short excerpt...
...The song ended and, as the last notes of the music faded away, the singer hesitated for a moment before he moved away from the piano. If anyone in the crowded bar noticed the skillful rearrangement of the popular ballad or the husky quality of his beautiful voice, they gave no sign.
My throat tightened with emotion while I watched him smooth a hand over his dark hair, pick up his jacket and step down from the stage. I knew he was hurt by the lack of audience response. It showed in his expressive blue eyes and the droop of his shoulders and also in each and every movement of his slim body. It was threatening to become a fucking Saturday night ritual. Jay Ferman sang; no one paid a scrap of attention. It could have been canned music for all they knew or cared.
I wanted to go over there and hug him hard. I wanted to tell him not to give up; that success rarely happened overnight. That sometimes it took years. He had to be patient. Work on his craft, give it time, and when he least it expected it, one of the talent scouts who dropped in from time to time would realize his potential and offer him that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
He reached over the bar and shook my hand as he passed by on his way out. “’Night, Max. Thanks.”
“’Night, Jay. My pleasure. See you again next week?”
His smile couldn’t have been brighter and he couldn’t have looked any happier if he’d stepped off the stage to thunderous applause, but I knew it was all show. Despite the bravado, the disappointment was there in his eyes for anyone who cared to look. And the reason he kept coming week after week was simple—he wanted to succeed. The reason I kept encouraging him was even simpler—I’d been there. Like Jay, I’d walked that lonely road for a long time. I knew all about the big dreams and the high hopes, the constant fear that I didn’t quite measure up, and then the indescribable thrill of knowing I’d finally made it. Maybe Jay would eventually get there and maybe not, but it was his dream and he wouldn’t thank me for interfering.
“Have a good week, Jay.”
“Yeah, you, too, Max.”
What Jay Ferman needed was— I warned myself to stop right there. What Jay needed was none of my business.
Unlike Jay, I’d been lucky enough to have the kind of help I’d needed to get where I wanted to go. And if I really cared about the guy I’d tell him the truth—that the scouts who trolled the bars and clubs looking for new acts wanted more than a good voice. They wanted the complete package—mind-blowing talent, good looks, the right clothes, a professional presentation, and the confidence to capture attention. The kind of star quality that would draw an audience in and make it forget about everything but the moment, the music and the man in the spotlight. What the scouts didn’t do was waste time on someone who kept his head down and blended into the background like elevator music.
The truth was, I did care for the guy, more than I wanted to admit even to myself. As he headed for the exit, I wondered if anyone had ever told him where he was going wrong. If they had, he hadn’t listened. The man had talent to spare and the kind of good looks a male model would envy. But he had no charisma, no stage presence, and unless he learned how to project and make contact with his audience, he was wasting his time.
Needing an outlet for my frustrations, I picked up a damp cloth and began cleaning the bar, rubbing at marks that had been there for years and I didn’t stand a chance of removing. Poor guy just didn’t have a clue...