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Shattered Glass [MultiFormat]
eBook by AC Katt

eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Mystery/Crime
eBook Description: Liam knew he loved Milo, even as a kid. But their fame and fortune can't buy him the happiness of taking Milo out of the closet and be able to freely express their love. Unfortunately, there is someone out there who will do anything to tear them apart. He conspires to break the lovers up in the most vicious way possible. Six years later, Liam is older, wiser, and has rebuilt his life after the devastating loss of his lover. Forced by his loyalty to a friend, Liam agrees to a working reunion with Milo. When they realize what was done to them, they band together to uncover the web of lies that pulled them apart. This book has been previously release.

eBook Publisher: MLR Press, LLC/MLR Press, LLC
Fictionwise Release Date: May 2012


3 Reader Ratings:
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Prologue

Press Conference, Plaza Hotel, New York City

November 2002, 3:45

None of Shattered Glass' band members had seen or heard from lead singer Liam O'Shea in the past ten days. A press conference had been scheduled for four p.m., putting the media in a feeding frenzy.

Sam Stein, attorney and owner of Stein Talent Ltd., looked around his suite at the Plaza. Half of his personnel had come over to handle the crisis. Rumor and speculation was running as thick and heavy in the room as it was in the swarm of cameras waiting below. Rumors circulated, but even Sam's best investigator, J.B. Saunders, hadn't a clue.

Sam clutched the statements of the three remaining members, now sequestered in adjoining suites. He yelled over to his assistant. "Margot, has J.B. filed a report on Liam?"

"Not yet, I'm working on it. You have ten minutes to get downstairs."

Sam picked up his own statement and headed out of the suite to the press room. None of the principals would say much more than the basic facts. Bart made a pass at Milo, and Liam walked. Bart refused to comment.

I'll have to talk Milo into replacing Bart for the remainder of the tour. He's replaceable. Liam is not. How could I have missed all of the tension of the last few years?

That's easy, his conscience replied. You let the band slide because you let your business consume you

When Sam arrived downstairs, the Plaza's press room was packed. There were reps from all the major networks, cable news, all the legitimate music magazines, newspapers, and stringers from every supermarket rag that ran covers of alien invasions and three-headed cows, all of them ready to take a bite out of Sam's hide.

Margot preceded him through the door and announced his entrance. The room burst into a cacophony of voices, all shouting questions he could not or would not be able to answer.

Sam began to sweat in his Armani suit, but soldiered on to the podium. He faced the crowd as they settled into an expectant silence.

"Good afternoon. I have a prepared statement and will take no questions afterward. Liam O'Shea, Shattered Glass' composer, lead guitarist, and singer, has left the band due to creative differences. Milo Stamis informed me today that Liam will be replaced for rest of the tour by solo artist, Johnny Borchoi, who graciously agreed to interrupt his sabbatical to fill in for Liam."

The media exploded in protest as Sam prepared to leave the podium. Margot whispered, "Sam, you need to answer a few questions or they'll bombard the office. We won't be able to work."

Looking over the rabble, Sam agreed with Margot's assessment. He returned to the podium and braced himself for what he knew would come.

"I will go ahead and take a couple of questions after all."

Hands flew into the air. Sam pointed at random. The reporter jumped up.

"Rolling Stone. Mr. Stein, didn't you once play the drums for Shattered Glass, and isn't bass guitarist Rick Stein your brother?"

"Bart plastered himself to Milo during rehearsal the day after Milo threw Liam out of the house. Liam hauled off and punched Bart and gave him a black eye." Rick shrugged with assumed indifference.

"Yes. Next question, over there in the corner."

"Billboard. There are rumors of an altercation at a rehearsal. It's said that Liam attacked Bart Hedge."

"No comment. Second row, third from the left."

"Dex Arthur, Entertainment Tonight. Doesn't Liam owe his fans an explanation?"

"Liam's music speaks for itself," Sam growled. "I'll take one last question."

A stringer for one of the grocery rags stood up and shouted a question that silenced the room. "Sam, were Milo and Liam lovers?"

Milo exploded in an angry tirade against Liam. "If I could find the little bastard, I'd choke him. He's been carrying on with that fucking roadie, Danny, behind my back for years. " Milo was really pissed, his face was red and his eyes were puffy. Sam figured he missed Liam much more than his anger let him show.

"No comment." The right side of Sam's mouth ticked in frustration. Sam abruptly left the podium and disappeared behind the curtain, heading to the private exit.

Their public relations representative pulled Sam aside as he attempted to exit the room.

"Come on, Sam. At least tell me the truth off the record. Are Milo and Liam lovers? Rumors abound of a blowup at the rehearsal, and a physical altercation."

"There are some things I can't even tell you."

The PR rep left. Sam stood, shoulders slumped against the wall. He shook his head. The truth was more complicated than anyone could imagine.

* * * *
* * * *

Chapter One

Local Man Mowed Down by Hit & Run Driver

Dr. Frank O'Shea, 46, the English department Chair at Princeton University, was mowed down in what looks like a hit and run only three blocks from his home in Princeton today at the intersection of Hodge and Library Roads. In the ensuing investigation, police experts found that O'Shea's 1982 Honda Accord was run off the road over an embankment. Eye witnesses stated that they saw a black Mercedes SUV leaving the scene. Detectives claim to be talking to a person of interest, but do not have enough evidence to make an arrest.--The Trenton Times-Herald, May 1985

July 1985, Hazlet, NJ

Sam Stein kept watch from behind the privet hedge. Milo Stamis' less than pristine Air Jordans appeared like a beacon in the dark as he wiggled through the second story window of his house.

Easy, Milo, Sam thought. The rest of his friend's lean, twelve-year-old body appeared to hang suspended from the ledge for a few moments before making the short drop to the ground. Sam held his breath until his friend slowly rose from a half-kneeling position to the right of the rosebushes. Milo trotted over to Sam and smiled when he saw his worried face.

"I told you not to worry," Milo said. "I only jumped about four feet, you know." Sam handed Milo the bike he recovered from the Stamis' open garage.

"You almost landed your ass in the rosebushes. You can damn well bet I wouldn't be the one picking the thorns from your butt. Will your dad wake up and raise hell if he finds you gone?"

"Nah. He guzzled more than a few shots of J&B. He's passed out on the sofa, dead drunk. The fat bastard won't wake up until Mom comes home from bingo at two. "

"Why are you limping? And what's with the cut lip?" Sam asked.

"I got into it with the old man, again. He got angry because I helped Mom with her flowers today. He said I have to learn to be a man and not a sissy boy."

"Shit, Milo. Why don't you tell my dad? He's a lawyer. He could help."

"I can handle it. Besides, I got it covered. I promised I'd go out for Pop Warner football in the fall. That shut him up." Milo sighed.

"But you hate football."

"Yeah, but he loves it."

Sam decided to hold his tongue. He knew Milo well enough to recognize that something more upset his friend this evening. Milo would tell him in his own time.

The boys walked their bikes halfway down the slope of Gibson Drive. The night felt hot and humid. They heard crickets and saw the flying bugs circling round the glow cast from the streetlights. A small toad hopped across their path.

As soon as they traveled far enough away from Milo's, they hopped on their bikes and rode down the steep hill, each daring the other not to touch their brakes. The breeze ran through Milo's hair as they raced downhill. Sam watched the blond curls fly around Milo's head. They zipped across Laurel Avenue and headed to the ball field bleachers.

Sam sat on the aluminum bench as Milo threw himself to the ground. Milo picked at the grass and looked up at Sam with a strange expression, as if trying to do multiplication tables in his head. Sam and Milo had been friends since they met while in diapers and shared a playpen at a block party.

There's something really bugging the shit out of him tonight. Milo was usually laughingly good-natured. After a few minutes, Sam had enough. "Okay, Milo. Spill it."

"I don't know how to tell you this. I just know that I have to. You may hate me after I tell you. God knows if my old man found out, he'd beat the shit out of me." He raised his head, looked Sam straight in the eyes, and quietly said, "I'm gay."

Tears poured down Milo's cheeks. He could barely control his sobs. He turned away from his friend, running his fingers through his longish blond hair in obvious anticipation of rejection.

"I know. I've been waiting for you to tell me." Sam slid his arm around Milo's back and squeezed to show Milo that he had his complete support.

"Do you think everyone knows?" Milo asked with a note of panic in his voice.

"No. Not at all. I know because I'm around you all the time." Sam gave Milo his usual evil grin. "You didn't get a hard-on when we stole into the girls' locker room and watched the cheerleaders changing this past spring. Yet you try to hide it every time we have gym. You got to watch it around here though. We live in a macho asshole world." Sam looked down the field to home plate and wished the world could be different for his friend.

"That's why I agreed to the football. I can't let him find out, ever. What would he do to me if I told him? What if I told him I prefer guys to girls?"

"You could tell him and come live with us." Sam slipped his arm around Milo's shoulders, giving him a quick squeeze.

"I can't. He'll blame Mom and start torturing her instead of me. I'm going to have to lie."

"You know I'm heterosexual all the way, but you're still my best friend. I've got your back. You should know you can count on me. We're best buds. You can count on Rick, too. He may be my pain in the ass little brother, but he's loyal as they come."

"I know that. Your house is a refuge for me." Milo picked at the grass. "Sometimes I feel like taking a knife to him while he sleeps. I didn't ask to be born this way. Fuck, I don't want to be different. I've tried to act like the rest of them. I can pretend, but I can't change the way I am inside." Milo slammed his fist into the ground.

"Whenever it gets that bad, come over to our house. Mom and Dad won't say anything, and you can talk to my father. He won't rat you out."

"You think?"

"I know," Sam answered. "It's the rest of this fucking town you have to worry about. In September, you better start making eyes at big tits or something, if you don't want to stick out. My mom and dad told me and Rick that being gay is something you are born with, like your blond hair and green eyes. You are what you are, but we need to keep this under wraps until we get out of this suburban hell hole."

Milo smiled at Sam and stuck out his hand. "Shake on it?" Sam grabbed his hand and held it tight.

"Christ, you didn't have to grab that hard."

Sam laughed and Milo threw a handful of grass at him.

"Yeah." Sam continued. "We need to find something to keep you busy and out from under your dad's notice. Maybe we could take music lessons together or something. Tell him you want to be a rocker. They ride Harleys and shit. Motorcycles are macho as hell!"

"A band sounds awesome. I've been taking guitar lessons since my eighth birthday." Milo turned his bike back toward the entrance to the ball field. "I'm glad I told you."

"Yeah, me too. We'll figure this out."

* * * *

The next morning Milo stared at the phone, willing it to ring. Sam always called before ten and the clock read eleven thirty. Done waiting, he flung himself off of his bed and out the door. He needed to see where he stood with his best friend.

Milo wheeled his bike out of the garage and closed the garage door. He headed down the street toward Sam's house. He didn't think Sam's parents would forbid him to hang out with a gay kid, but he wasn't sure. Not knowing made him nervous. He pedaled quickly, his mind on his troubles.

Milo sped up, so lost in thought he almost missed seeing the rental truck parked at the corner of Miriam Place and Annette Court. He braked hard and fast to avoid hitting the slightly built woman and child who struggled with moving boxes. After nearly running them over, Milo felt he should stop to help. With some relief he spotted Sam pedaling up the street on his bike. Sam stopped and Milo took the lead.

"Ma'am, do you need some help? I'm Milo Stamis. I live up the street. This is Sam Stein, he lives around the corner."

"I'm Lily O'Shea and this is my son, Liam. I think we can use your help. I underestimated how much muscle it would take to unload this thing." Both boys preened at the insinuation that they possessed muscles.

"Just show us where you want them," Sam said as he and Milo grabbed an awkwardly shaped box and carried it into the foyer. Sam shot Milo a look and grinned.

At that moment, Milo knew he and Sam would be okay. Sam would never play for Milo's team, but he knew Sam would always be there for him in the bleachers.

They worked most of the day letting Liam, who looked to be about five or six, help them carry the boxes. Late that afternoon when Lily got the kitchen in order, she came out of the house, carrying huge ice-filled glasses of homemade lemonade on a fancy painted metal tray. The three boys drank greedily. Sam perched on the small front step, with Liam sitting next to Milo on the grass.

Lily joined them, settling down next to Sam on the step. The small group stayed quiet for a few minutes, basking in the late afternoon heat with appreciation for a job well done, when Lily asked, "Why don't you boys stay for supper?"

Sam demurred. "I've got to get home. We're having company tonight."

"What about you, Milo?"

"If your phone is connected, I'll call my mom, but I'm sure it will be okay." Lily went inside, returned, and handed Milo a portable phone.

"Wow, this is cool."

Sam had to look at the new electronic toy before he left. Sam examined it while the two boys walked to the bikes, Milo to move his into the driveway and Sam to pedal home around the corner.

"You know you don't have to worry about us, don't you?" Sam whispered.

"I guessed we were okay earlier when you gave me that evil grin. You better get going. I don't want your mom mad at me."

"Don't worry. Mom and Dad both know, and no one is anything but sympathetic."

"See you tomorrow?"

"You bet."

Milo watched Sam pedal away, then called home and got his mom's permission to stay. "She said it's okay, Mrs. O'Shea."

"Please, call me Lily. I'm only thirty. Too young to be out to pasture yet."

Milo held out his hand to Liam. "Come on. Let's see what's for dinner."

They sat down to roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and peas. Liam whined, "Mama, you know I don't like peas." He followed that with a quivering bottom lip and a pout.

"Your mom didn't have time to go to the store," Milo chided. "Come on, eat up or you will never be any bigger than a peanut. How old are you anyway?"

"I'm six. I'm not a baby, and I am not a peanut." Liam followed that statement with another sulk.

"Well, six-year-old boys don't pout or whine over peas. They eat them and thank their mothers for cooking their dinner." Milo looked over at Lily to see if she objected to his remarks. Lily smiled in encouragement.

Liam's lower lip stuck out a little further, but his fork began to move. Over the course of dinner Milo kept glancing at the clock, waiting for the dad of the house to arrive. After a few discreet glances, he caught Liam staring at him. Huge violet eyes looked up at his green ones.

"You don't have to keep looking, you know," Liam said. "No one else is coming."

Milo nearly choked on a piece of chicken. How had the kid figured out why he looked at the clock? Milo expected a father to walk in at any moment to take charge of the elfin-like waif and the mother he resembled.

"He's dead," Liam remarked in a rather sad but firm little voice. "It's just the two of us now. He died in a car crash. Mama and I still cry sometimes, but she says it will be better since we are in a different place. It already is. We met you and Sam first thing."

Then it hit Milo, right between the eyeballs. Something about Liam struck him as off. The longer he watched him, the more apparent it became. Liam was gay. He didn't walk with the hitching gait of all the other boys he knew. He glided gracefully. Liam was much too young to realize his sexual orientation, but in Milo's opinion, the kid definitely leaned toward bent. Milo knew the neighborhood. If Liam acted too effeminate, he'd be crucified.

Milo's brow furrowed in thought. All of a sudden he began to feel very protective of the younger boy. Milo knew Liam would need all the guidance he could muster, especially without a father figure on whom to pattern his masculinity.

When they finished supper, Milo thanked Lily by helping with the dishes. He read Liam a story and bid them both good night. It was only seven thirty, so he headed back down the block and around the corner to call for Sam.

Milo parked his bike in the driveway, well away from the car. Sam answered the door and Milo asked him to take a walk. Sam agreed and Rick, Sam's younger brother, tagged along.

"What's the dad like?"

"There is no dad. He died in a car wreck a few months ago. They moved here to get away from the memories."

"That's gotta be tough on a little kid."

"Not as tough as it's going to be."

Rick piped in, "Can't see it getting any rougher than that, I mean losing your dad."

Both Sam and Milo looked up with a start. As usual, they forgot Rick tagged along. Rick never said much. He lent himself to being forgotten.

"Do you remember what we discussed last night, Sam?" Milo asked him in a quiet voice. "The kid has the same problem."

"How do you know this? You just realized it yourself, and suddenly you're an expert?"

"No, not an expert, just picking up the signals a little easier. Hey, you knew about me before I knew. Believe me, this kid's in for a shitload of hurt, and his mother doesn't have a clue."

Sam shook his head. "What can we do?"

"Let him hang out with us and teach him boy stuff so he won't stick out. As it is, he looks like a girl. We got to make sure he looks like a boy by the time school comes around. We're going to be in middle school and not able to watch out for him." Milo bit his lip.

"I can watch out for him," Rick piped up. "I've got another year before I go on with you guys."

"Ricky, you're always in trouble," Sam blustered. "How are you going to watch out for a little kid?"

"I may get in trouble, but I know something about him you don't know."

"What, snot nose?"

"He's already in third grade, even though he's only six. I heard Mom talking about it to Mrs. Rowe."

"Who is Mrs. Rowe?" Milo asked.

"The gifted teacher. They set up all sorts of special classes for him because of some dumb law. His mother refused to put him in private school when the principal suggested he might be more comfortable in one."

"Ah shit, Sammmm," Milo said.

"I guess Ricky can help, but you can't get him into trouble. He's got to fly under the radar as much as he can. He lives between us so it shouldn't be too hard. We'll just let him tag along."

Over the summer, Liam started trailing after Milo and Sam, right alongside Ricky. Initially, Milo patted himself on the back for helping the kid navigate the deep end of the pool. Later he admitted, if only to himself, he enjoyed Liam's company. Milo felt as if he walked a tightrope.

He couldn't bring himself to shoo the kid away, or make him hide under the cloak of conformity. He did the only thing he knew how to do--he protected. The other jocks stayed away because Milo claimed Liam as a relative and treated him like a kid brother. If the kid seemed a bit delicate for their tastes, they figured Milo would set him straight soon enough. Milo got Liam a de facto pass from the rest of the guys in town.

* * * *

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