BOOK ONE OF THE COURTSIDE KING DUOLOGY
- COMING JANUARY 31, 2022 -
During Tad’s journey of self-discovery,
I decided to give my readers a treat while
having some fun with Tad and Scott.
I hope you enjoy these little slices of life.
Meagen Howard Fox
— INTERVIEW WITH TAD —
To be read after Prized Possession
Leaning against the Jeep she knew to be Tad’s, Meagen waited for him to exit the school where things were wrapping up for the night. It wouldn't be long now. Scott, after all, had given her a heads up about when his classes ended.
Across the parking lot, she spotted Tad exiting the building. His gaze was down, checking his phone, so he didn't see her right away. She watched him walk toward her, noting the look of concentration on his face. He had an easy way about him. Relaxed and yet, his stride was determined as he moved unsuspectingly forward. Scott was a lucky man.
He looked up, stopping mid-step, and stared at her. She waited for him to say something, but he merely glanced over his shoulder in confusion.
“I’m Meagen. I’ve been trying to set up an interview with you, but somehow you’ve managed to dodge all my calls and haven’t returned my messages. Scott suggested I catch up with you here. He said you might have a few minutes after your classes to talk.”
Blinking, Tad wrapped his brain around this Meagan chick’s words.
Interview. Phone calls. Messages. Scott.
Inwardly groaning, he flashed a sheepish grin. “Oh. Right. Meagen. Hey.” She gave him a little wave. Chuckling, he cleared his throat, glancing anxiously toward his Jeep. “So… Scott told you where to find me, huh?” When she nodded, he smirked and shook his head, muttering under his breath, “He’s so gonna pay for this.” Gesturing to his ride, he offered a friendly smile. “Um... Do you wanna go grab some coffee? While we uh... interview... or whatever?”
Smiling, Meagen nodded and waited for him to unlock the doors. Once they were inside and, on their way, she watched him for a second and could see him white knuckling the steering wheel. She wanted to laugh, but she also felt for him. She knew from listening to Scott that Tad was shy and not a sharer at heart, so she had to tread lightly. Right? Oh, what the hell. She was only getting one shot at this. Without censoring her question, she waited until he parked and had his hand on the door handle before asking, “So, how was your class? Or maybe we could discuss your last workout with Scott? Did he put you through your paces? Seems like he’d be a task master.”
Stiffening, Tad glanced at Meagen. “Uhh...” He jiggled the door handle. “Yeah. He’s a hard ass for sure.” Wincing at his words, he looked away, tugging a bit harder on the handle. Why the fuck wouldn’t the damn thing—Oh. Right. Still locked. He thumbed the unlock button and shoved open his door. Meagen met him on the sidewalk in front of the café, looking as if she was waiting for him to elaborate. Ugh. He’d have to be careful. Once he got started talking about Scott, he might never stop.
Tugging open the door for her, they headed inside and snagged a tall table by the window. Situated on his high-back, he gave a small shrug. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. He rocks at what he does. At everything he does.” His lips curved wryly. “I just think he gets a bit too much pleasure out of torturing people is all.” He chuckled and shook his head. “He’s a punk like that.”
Meagen smiled with a nod. “I’d have to agree. He seems to revel in poking at people and pushing them to their limits. He even did that when I interviewed him. Teased and tried to make me blush.” They both ordered their drinks and as Tad sat on the edge of his seat. Meagen, however, settled back in her chair. “Do you mind if I record what you say so I can refer to it later if I need to, so I don't misrepresent you?” He shrugged an okay. Setting her phone on the table, she pressed the record button. “Thanks. So, tell me, if you can, how are things going for you? You’ve been dealing with a lot of changes lately in terms of your relationships with your friends and with Scott.” He visibly paled. Quickly, she shook her head. “Sorry. Don't mean to be so blunt, but I don’t see a reason to beat around the bush here. I really like Scott and love the way he approaches life, but I’m also curious about you.”
Yeeeaaaah, definitely not beating around the bush. Shifting on his chair, Tad scratched his neck, warily eyeing her recorder. “Okay. Well. Um. Hmm. How are things going for me...” He scanned the nearby tables of customers. No one appeared to be eavesdropping. Thank God. Now, how to answer her question. Shit. He could feel his cheeks getting warm. Fuck it. This was his first opportunity ever to talk to someone, other than Scott, about all the stuff bumping around in his head. Might as well take advantage of it. This Meagen girl seemed understanding enough. And even kind of nice.
Clearing his throat, he looked back at her and shrugged. “Well, I think I’ve come a long way, actually, from where I was before Scott. A lot of shit… er… stuff shifted the night we met.” Hot cheeks. Scorching hot cheeks as he remembered said night in vivid detail. Meagen just smiled and nodded for him to continue. He chuckled awkwardly. “Anyway… Seems there’s a part of me that never felt the need to reveal itself until Scott came along. But it’s definitely out there now. At least to me.” He looked down at the napkin he was fiddling with. “And I’m pretty sure to Scott, too. Last time we hung out…” His lips curved. “Well, a lot of big milestones were reached. It was…. a good night.” His smile faded. “But it ended kind of rough. So I gotta work on some stuff. Smooth some things out.” He shifted again on his seat, a soft groan crawling up his throat. “Gotta tell my friends. And family and stuff. Haven’t quite figured out how to do that.” His eyes shot back up to Meagen’s. “But I’m going to. I’m definitely going to.” He shook his head adamantly. “No way would I do Scott wrong. No way.” He glanced away, voice dropping. “Shit, I’d do anything for that guy.”
His confession made Meagen wonder if he was even aware he'd voiced his desires out loud. He seemed to be having several internal conversations with himself. He did, however, seem relieved to have shared.
“I’d have to agree with you. I think you’ve come a long way, too.” When Tad continued to blush, his hazel eyes continuously scanning the room, Meagen glanced around, too, making sure they were indeed still having a private conversation. “Tad. Nobody’s paying any attention to us. They’re all in their own little coffee worlds. And since no one’s giving us the time of day, how do you think you might smooth things out, as you said? Do you have a plan for that?” He seemed to be thinking quite hard. So hard, in fact, that she worried he was going to shut down. “Am I getting too personal? Scott was pretty open with me, but he’s in a different place than you with everything. So, if this is too much, I understand. But I hope you know you can trust me with your story. I happen to have a soft spot for the two of you.”
Tad smiled and sat back. “Thanks. I think. And nah, you’re good. Not asking me anything I haven’t been thinking about already.” He went quiet as the waitress returned to drop off their coffees. Once she was gone, he shrugged and palmed his steaming mug. “I’m gonna tell my friends this weekend. Saturday, actually. After the club hopping gig for my buddy Breck’s birthday on Friday.” Meagen made an approving sound. Tad chuckled and shook his head. “Yeah. Should be fun. Knowing them, twenty questions will ensue, half being stuff I have no idea how to answer and the other being totally mortifying.” Meagen winced sympathetically and Tad laughed. “Yeah. My friends have no tact.”
Again, he shrugged then proceeded to load his coffee with a shit ton of sugar. “Anyway. Yeah, that’s part A of my plan. Part B is putting the ball back in Scott’s court.” He tilted his head in thought. “It’s been in mine for a long time. Since the very beginning, really. I know this. But I kinda need him to take the lead now, if for nothing else than to give me an idea of where HE’s truly at in all this.” A smaller shrug. “I mean, I know he likes me. And really enjoys introducing me to this whole new world. And I know he wants me out so that I’m free to do what makes me happy. But then what? I mean, what does he want? Ya know?” He looked back up at Meagen and sighed. “Now that I know where my head is, I gotta find out where his is. What he wants. Because…” He swallowed back a boyish chuckle, feeling his cheeks reheat. “Because what I want is him. With me. Exclusively.” His brain wandered back to Kai. The guy he’d been stressing about ever since Tuesday at the gym. His smile faded. “But I’m not sure those feelings are entirely mutual.”
Meagen blew across the surface of her drink before taking a sip. She watched him relax in front of her. It wasn't a sudden change. It was a gradual loosening of his shoulders and a shift in his position in his chair. Little things if you weren’t looking for them. But she was. So, when his demeanor shifted, she leaned forward and rested her elbows on the table, mug still in her hand. “I’m really impressed with your determination. You seem really... good with things.” She smiled softly. “But tell me what you mean by putting the ball in Scott’s court. I’m not sure I understand.” Tad stared past her, thinking, so she let that hang between them for nearly minute before finally urging him to answer. “Tad? You’re going to be going out on a limb here, emotionally I mean, trusting your buddies to be accepting of all this. Is doing that your way of putting Scott on the starting block so to speak? Making it his turn to step up and put himself out there, so that you’re both on equal footing?”
Tad chuckled at that. “Not really sure what there is he could do. Mostly I’m just giving him the wheel.” He sat back, finger running idly along the handle of his mug. “This weekend I’m gonna tell him that I’ve finally got my head on straight. That I know what my deal is. No more second guessing. That my friends know. That my family knows. And that I’m one hundred percent good with it all. And from there,” he smiled warily, “hopefully he’ll not just congratulate me but ask me to ride shotgun with him from here on out. That I wasn’t just some challenge, a guy to lure “out” while having a little fun.” He dragged a hand through his hair. “Because now that I know my deal is for sure? I wanna keep going. But I wanna keep going with him.” His chuckled, shaking his head. “Seems Tuesday helped solidify more than just my sexuality. Turns out I’ve got it bad for the guy.” His smile faded completely as Kai’s face reemerged in his mind. “And now I don’t want to share him.” He looked at Meagen. “So by putting the ball in his court, letting him know where I stand, hopefully he’ll tell me where he stands, too.”
“I’m impressed. Really. You seem to have this all figured out.” He looked down at his mug and chuckled. Meagen waited until he lifted his gaze again and tapped her fingers against the table. “Tad. Do you really think the guys you’ve been buddies with for so long are going to be open minded? That they won’t object to this?” Her words sounded harsh, even as she said them. Quickly, she put her hand up before he could speak. “Wait. It’s not fair of me to assume they’ll be like many men in my generation. I’m older, so you are growing up in a much more accepting society. I worry about you, I guess. I wouldn’t want your friends to hurt you thoughtlessly.” She took a deep breath and sighed hard. “Truly. I’m sorry. Out of line. Seeing you up close and personal, it’s clear how much you care for Scott.”
Tad shook his head. “No worries. It’s okay. A completely legit question. And again, nothing I haven’t considered way too much already on my own.” He forced a smile, absently rubbing his thighs. “But yeah, for the most part I do think my friends will be okay with this. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I think they’ll be surprised...” He frowned, thinking about past conversations with them. “Or maybe they won’t...” He shook the thought away. “But no matter what, it’ll definitely be an adjustment. Especially for them. But they’ll adapt. If they want to keep me close, that is.” A genuine smile curved his lips. “But my boys, they’re kick ass like that. And they love me. Like I love them. So, we’ll work it out.” He palmed his coffee with both hands and laughed. “I’m definitely expecting some serious razzing, though. Because they suck as much as they rock.”
Meagen winked and reached over to pat his hand. She felt more like a mother right now than she had with Scott and she had no idea why. “Tad. You seem to be a man who is coming into himself and everything in his life. You taking this last step is so exciting as a reader. I’ve been cheering for you both, and from the sidelines it’s hard not to give advice and tell you what to do. So tell me, as I smoothly change subjects,” she laughed. “What do you think of Max? And what about this guy, Kai? Where does he come in? I’m dying to know more about them and while Scott explained Max a little bit, there has to be more.”
Tad stiffened, his smile fading at the mention of Kai even more than Max. Which was saying a lot. Scratching his stubbly cheek, he cleared his throat. “Max. Hmm. At the moment, he’s a tough one for me to like. I mean, Scott swears he’s a good guy, and I guess he must be to be Scott’s best friend, but I dunno. It’s hard to respect someone who, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve it. He judged me hard when he doesn’t even know me. Doesn’t know my deal. Doesn’t know jack.” He shook his head and looked away, voice turning rough. “But whatever. He’s Scott’s boy so I gotta respect that. And I will. I just hope that whatever crawled up his ass…” He chuckled sardonically. “Crawls back out again… soon.”
His smile disappeared as quickly as it came. “As for Kai, I have no idea what his deal is. Scott wasn’t very forthcoming when I asked about him. Which, yeah, kinda makes me wary.” He shifted in his seat. “All I know is that they share common interests. Whatever the hell that means. And they’ve got plans. Stuff they’re gonna be doing together, I guess.” God, his stomach suddenly felt like shit. He shoved his coffee away and resumed fiddling with his napkin.
Meagen frowned, sensing new tension in Tad’s shoulders and neck. Maybe she should move to lighter ground. “You know what? Let’s forget about Kai. Talk about some easy stuff for a while.” She smiled and gave him a wink. “As you may or may not have guessed, I’m a book fanatic. Love to read. Can’t get enough. How about you? Read much yourself? Have a favorite genre?”
Tad exhaled, more than grateful for the subject change. “I do like to.” He nodded. “And sci-fi /fantasy is definitely my favorite genre. The Halo series, actually, was the last bunch I read.” He smiled boyishly. “Awesome, by the way. The way it was written to coincide with the video games? Kick ass. Eric Nylund is a sci-fi god. Lately, though, between work and school, I haven’t had time to read. Only books I crack open these days are big ole freaking textbooks.”
Meagen made a face. “How awful.” Tad laughed, nodding his head. “Well, how about music. Lots of artists are mentioned in your series. Do you have a favorite genre in that department?”
Tad could feel his insides light. One of his favorite things, after all. “Aw, man. Music feeds my soul. Love the stuff. Couldn’t live without it. But picking a favorite is tough. I really love all kinds. I guess what I listen to the most is alternative rock. But I really do listen to the whole gamut. Blues, rap, techno dance. Classic rock, hip hop. Ed Sheeran. Chili Peppers. Maroon 5. Lady Gaga… As long as it’s got flavor and funk, and moves me in some way, I’m all for it. Turn that shit up.”
Meagen laughed, seeing a whole new light in his eyes. “Awesome. How about food. Please tell me you’re not a fast food junkie.”
“Nothing wrong with a burger done right,” Tad chuckled. “But I’m actually more of a hot wings and subs kinda guy.” He smiled. “Cool how that was the first thing Scott ever made me.” His grin widened. “He does great things with those hands.”
“Yes,” Meagen laughed. “I’ve been getting that impression.” Wiggling her brows, she leaned in closer. “Speaking of which, another staple question I love to ask people is what their favorite date place is. So, with Scott in mind, what would yours be?”
Tad's brows jacked high. Date place? With Scott? Oh, geez. Scratching his cheek, he shifted in his seat. “Uh… Gah. Dates. With another guy. Hmm.”
Meagen's smile faded. “You’re not comfortable with that prospect.”
Tad did some more seat shifting. “Ah… Well… It’s not something I’ve really entertained much. I mean…” He glanced around again, then cleared his throat. “Going on a date. To me, that means like, holding hands… in public… and shit.”
Meagen shrugged, nodding. “Yup. Pretty much.”
Tad winced. “Riiight.” Rubbing the back of his neck, Tad decided to evade the crux of the matter. “Okay. Well, then. Let’s see.” Inhaling, he gave a shrug. “I guess my date place of choice would be… at my place. Lots of beer. Maybe a playoff game on the tube.”
Lips twitching, Meagen leveled him with a droll look. “Nice skirting there, Tad. Okay. Let me rephrase. If no one else could see you and Scott while out on a date, where would you want to go and hang out?”
Tad chuckled, face heating yet again. Cornered. She’d effectively cornered his ass. Though, truth be told, she did present the question in a much more bearable light. “Fine,” he chuckled. “If no one was staring at us, I’d love to go to a pool hall with the guy. Sports Center playing on the big screen, steady flow of ice cold beer.” His lids dipped lower. “Scott sliding his strong fingers up and down his stick, then bending his shit over the table. All that fucking muscle stretched over all that green…” He licked his lips absently. “Good times.”
Meagen blinked a couple times, then quickly took a drink. “Wow. Great answer.” She tugged on her collar and chuckled. “Makes me curious about something else. Something a bit more personal.” He titled his head and looked at her. “But you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.” He leaned forward and nodded, as if acknowledging what she said and prompting her to continue. “Alright. Well, I was so excited when you two finally kissed. It was about time!” She smiled, watched Tad relax a little. “Was it what you expected? Did your knees buckle? Did you get light headed?” When he gave her a strange look, she shrugged and blushed. “That’s what I’ve always wanted a kiss to do for me, so I’m projecting it onto you. But really, what was it like?”
Tad chuckled and looked down at his mug. “What was is like… Geez. How to put it into words.” He tilted his head, chewing absently on his smile. “It was amazing. So much better than I expected. And I expected pretty damn good.” His eyelids grew heavy as he shook his head. “The second his mouth touched mine? Game over. Not that I hadn’t already thrown in the towel… with what we’d just finished doing.” He tamped down a growl. “But God, his lips… They’re like freaking crack. Totally drugged me up. Left me jonesing for more.” He glanced up boyishly, realizing he’d probably elaborated a bit too much. Eh. Fuck it. Just saying it like it was. Sitting back, he grinned with a shrug. “Truth be told, I can’t wait to do it again. Do all of it again.” He laughed and looked up at the ceiling. “Yup. Totally addicted.”
“Well, I think I’ve tortured you enough, but I do have one last question.” Tad was still grinning when his eyes found Meagen's. “Alright. It’s a big one, so you ready?” He nodded and she tapped her fingers on the table. “Where do you see this going with Scott? What is your end game?” She watched and waited, sipping the last few drops of her now lukewarm drink. Would he bolt or remain relaxed and answer the question…
Tad's lips pursed in thought. Again, he tilted his head. “My endgame with Scott. Hmm.” He gave a small optimistic shrug. “Well, hopefully us doing the road trip together. Scott and me getting tighter. Getting to know each other way down deep. With our lives and social circles merging.” He shrugged. “At the moment, my aspirations aren’t super high. As long as whatever Scott and I are doing, we’re doing it together. For the long haul. But there is one thing I’d love to see happen sooner rather than later.” Meagen lifted an intrigued brow. Tad smiled boyishly. “I wanna be able to be around the guy, damn it, without always feeling so nervous. God, I’m always freaking blushing.” Meagen grinned as Tad softly sighed. “Although he does seem to really enjoy that shit.”
Meagen laughed and nodded. “He really does.” Noticing they were both finished with their drinks, she gathered up her purse. “Well, I think Scott will be happy to hear all of this. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens between you two.” He grinned and ducked his head then smiled when she put her hand out. “I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me, and I more than appreciate how honest you were with me. I know it might not have been your first choice of things to do today, but I think this is going to draw the fans in so they see a little deeper into who you are.” She stood up and grabbed her phone as he tossed some bills on the table. “I really am looking forward to seeing what happens next with you two.”
“You and me both.” Tad smiled, following her out.
Both stayed quiet as they walked to his Jeep, neither seeming to feel the need to fill the peaceful silence. Meagen was lost in how to get this written up and posted as soon as possible, and Tad was more than likely thinking about Scott.