"Winston!" "Oh, hey," Chip said lamely, spinning on his heel. "I didn't think you were still here." Seeing Brenden's confused look, he clarified. "No limo.""Oh, yeah." Brenden looked down at his boots, the brown leather just scuffed enough to be fashionable. "I hopped an Uber over. I thought... show more
"Winston!" "Oh, hey," Chip said lamely, spinning on his heel. "I didn't think you were still here." Seeing Brenden's confused look, he clarified. "No limo.""Oh, yeah." Brenden looked down at his boots, the brown leather just scuffed enough to be fashionable. "I hopped an Uber over. I thought maybe you'd give me a ride back to the hotel so we could talk.""I see." Chip's jaw tightened slightly. "I have my bike, so that won't work, but I'll wait with you if you want to get that ride back. We can talk while we wait.""I was really hoping we could get some time alone to talk without being rushed," Brenden offered quietly. "I have a lot to say. Doesn't your bike have a passenger seat?""Yeah." Chip's voice was clipped. "But I don't carry passengers." Not anymore, anyway, he thought to himself. Brenden had been the last person to sit behind him, clinging to his waist, as the powerful Harley had devoured the road. "Okay." Disappointment registered clearly on Brenden's face. "Will you come back to the hotel with me?""Naw, man." Chip stared over his shoulder. "I can't, not tonight." "Winston, please?" Brenden's voice held a pleading note. "I really need your help.""Don't call me that," Chip snapped, sharper than he meant to, and then felt a trace of shame as the smaller man took a step back. "Sorry," Chip muttered, shoving his hands in his pockets. "I go by Chip now."Brenden nodded. "Chip, then. I really do need your help."Chip sighed, long and deep. "Get your ride scheduled and tell me what you need."***"We have three shows scheduled at the amphitheater each weekend for the next month," Brenden began once they'd sat down on the curb to wait for Brenden's ride. Chip nodded; he wished he could say that he didn't obsessively follow the schedule for Chimera, the up-and-coming band that Brenden headed, but he was a lousy liar. "I want to hire you to provide security while we're in town.""Sorry." Chip shook his head. "I'm not in private security anymore. Besides, I've seen the muscle working for the band. You guys will be fine."Brenden frowned. "I meant for me, personally. I've had a few problems lately and I'm not really sure that the security team can be ruled out.""Oh?" Chip cocked his head. "Then you should notify the police. Like I said, I'm not providing private security anymore."Brenden placed his hand on Chip's thigh and squeezed, staring beseechingly at Chip. "Please? For old time's sake?"Chip barked out a laugh, ignoring the heat from the other man's inappropriately-placed hand. "I'm not really sure that's the card to play, Brenden.""You're still angry," Brenden said, wincing. "I'd hoped that we could talk, maybe move on.""I'm not angry and we've got nothing to talk about." Chip stood up and watched the dark sedan approaching them from across the parking lot. "Looks like my ride is here," Brenden said."I don't see the sticker," Chip mused. "Is it the same car from earlier?"Brenden shook his head.Taking a step in front of the rock star who had once been his friend, Chip stared into the tinted window at the faceless driver gesturing to the backseat. "This doesn't feel right," Chip murmured under his breath. "Stay behind me."Brenden didn't answer, but stayed put as Chip motioned for the driver to lower the window."You want a ride or not?" A thick cockney accent, completely out of place in Philadelphia, snarled into the space between them."Can't see your sticker," Chip said calmly. "Where's your identification?"The driver floored the gas, spraying sand and gravel as he raced out of the parking lot."What the hell was that?" Brenden gaped after the retreating vehicle."Dunno," Chip said grimly, "but I'm pretty sure he's not an Uber driver." He fought to hold in a sigh. "I guess I better make sure you get home safely."