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A coarse tongue caressed Cooper’s jawline with feral precision. Teasing whiskers tickled his skin, gently luring him out of an alcohol-laced slumber. A warm and woolly weight rested on his chest. It shifted and repositioned, emitting a throaty rumble as it moved.
With a measure of trepidation, Cooper eased open his eyes. The incessant licking stopped. A pair of gold eyes peered back at him, brimming with affection and curiosity. Purring with seductive satisfaction, a fat, white cat sat squarely between his bare pecs, like his chest was a mountain peak that had been claimed and conquered.
“Get off me,” Cooper scolded in a half whisper. He shooed the feline dominatrix with one hand and wiped his jaw with the other. The animal sized him up with a cocked head, rose, and sauntered off his chest, dropping to the floor with a soft thud.
God, he hated cats. Unfortunately, his true nature was like catnip to them. They sensed things in him that people didn’t. Dark things. A draft drifted over his bare skin, sending a chill through him. He propped up on his elbows and scanned his unfamiliar surroundings.
The morning sun slipped through half-open, white plantation shutters, reflecting off white bedding, white walls, a white club chair in the corner—lots of white. Where the hell was he? What time was it? And where the hell were his pants?
He eased back down on the mattress, and the naked body lying next to him stirred. Oh, right. Marco? Matthew? Mario? Whoever it was, it rolled over and slung a lithe arm over Cooper’s chest.
He stared up at the ceiling and then closed his eyes tight. If he didn’t look, there wouldn’t be anybody there. At least that’s what he told himself in times like those. He opened one eye and peeked over at sleeping beauty. As usual—still there.
Cooper sighed and studied the angular face of the Latino boy who just a few hours earlier had been priority target number one on his hunt. A nameless, personality- deprived young stud without an intellectual thought in that pretty little head. Just the way Cooper liked them. Easy to bed, easy to leave, and nothing of substance to tempt him otherwise. He reconstructed the events of last night in his head—the thumping music, the gyrating go-go boys, the nagging vibration of the phone in his pocket.
Dammit. The missed calls. Dismissed was more like it. What had he been thinking? He ran his hand through his hair and exhaled a quiet sigh. Jesus. He hadn’t been thinking. Not with his head anyway. Lillie Mae would be worried that he never answered. He needed to call her back.
Sliding his butt stealthily across wrinkled sheets, he edged toward the side of the bed. He was nearly free until the guy’s hand fell from Cooper’s chest onto the mattress and he opened his drooping, dark eyes.
Let the awkwardness begin.
The guy rubbed his sleepy eyes and directed them at Cooper. “You looking for the bathroom?” The accent was just slight enough to remind Cooper of the desire that had stirred inside him when he first hit on the guy at the bar.
“Actually, I was looking for my phone.” And his shirt, and his underwear, and any shred of dignity he had left. Why couldn’t Mateo, or whatever its name was, have just stayed asleep? That usually made this easier on everyone.
“Ah.” The guy propped himself up on one elbow and turned his perfectly proportioned body toward Cooper. He ran smooth fingertips over the ripples of Cooper’s stomach, reigniting a flicker of desire. “I finally caught the eye of the elusive, hot ginger I’ve been stalking for a month, and now he’s having buyer’s remorse.” A smirk twisted the guy’s lips. “Just my luck.” His gaze drifted down Cooper’s torso and stopped when it arrived at his exposed morning wood.
Heat rushed to Cooper’s cheeks as he pulled the mangled top sheet up over his midsection. “Look…Mattias…”
The guy cocked an eyebrow at him. “Manuel?” This wasn’t going very well.
The guy rolled his eyes, chuckled, and sat up, not bothering to cover his nakedness. “Really? We talked for an hour at the bar before we left together.”
“We did?” Cooper couldn’t remember the guy’s name, much less the finer points of their no doubt banal conversation. He slipped out from under the sheet and stood with his back to the bed, though it was a little late to play the modesty card at this point. His clothes were scattered on the floor, on a chair, over the lampshade, but his phone was nowhere in sight. Neither was his underwear.
“It’s Miguel,” the guy said with a huff. Cooper looked over his shoulder. Miguel slung his legs off the bed and scratched his dense, curly mop of dark hair. “It’s fine. Your reputation precedes you. I knew what I was getting into.” Miguel stood, rubbed his bare ass, and disappeared into the bathroom.
Cooper gave up trying to find his underwear and pulled on his jeans. “What’s that supposed to mean?” He scanned the floor. “Where the hell is my phone?” A flash of silver caught his eye just under the side of the bed. Dropping down to his knees, he peeked under the frame. Two familiar, gold eyes stared back at him, just a claw swipe away from his phone, which was partially hidden under his hastily discarded boxer briefs.
Cooper reached a hand under the bed and shooed the cat away. It didn’t move. “Beat it, you nappy little pussy.” He swatted again. The cat shot out from under the bed with a hiss and disappeared into the front room.
“Cooper Causey…” Miguel called over a healthy jet stream of liquid hitting the toilet bowl. “…a great lay and you don’t even have to make him coffee. He’ll be gone before the sun’s up. That’s what they say about you at the bar.”
Cooper grabbed the phone and stared at the blank screen, Miguel’s words sparking only minor irritation. What the hell did he care? He’d never see this guy again anyway. He got up, sat on the edge of the bed, and held down the power button on the side of the phone. A toilet flushed, and Cooper glanced over his shoulder toward the door.
Miguel ambled into the room sporting a tiny, yet well-filled, black thong. “Don’t get me wrong. It was damn well worth the wait.”
“I am so glad I don’t disappoint,” Cooper replied with a sarcasm-laced mumble.
His phone finally came to life. A gray notification box in the center of the blue screen tracked six missed calls and one voice mail, all from the same number. Guilt swelled inside him.
Lillie Mae never liked leaving voice mails, opting to call multiple times to see if she could make a personal connection instead. She’d called three times while he was at the bar before he turned the thing off and shoved it into his pocket and out of his thoughts. But six calls plus a voice mail was not like her, especially since she knew he planned to visit her soon. He’d put it off as long as he could and run out of excuses. Something had to be wrong.
A pinch of pain shot through Cooper’s fingertips, like the simultaneous pricking of a hundred needles. The cat reappeared and weaved in and out of his legs, soaking up the errant discharge. He nudged the cat away with his foot, shook his hands, and looked over his shoulder.
Miguel stared at him with a wrinkled brow and a crooked grin. “You okay?”
Cooper grabbed his shirt off the back of the club chair and slipped it on, stuffing the balled-up boxer briefs in his front pocket. He was definitely not okay. Hadn’t been in years.
“Sorry,” he said. “I have to get going.”
“Oh, right. The dissertation you told me about. Smart and sexy. I am such a sucker for smart and sexy.”
God, he needed to get out of there. This guy might actually like him. Those were the worst ones. He connected half the buttons on his shirt and sat down to put on his shoes. Before he could get the laces tied, he sensed Miguel hovering over him.
“Not good with personal stuff after the deed is done are you, Professor?”
“Never going to be a professor unless I get that dissertation done.” Cooper paused and looked up, his eyes level with Miguel’s bulging crotch. The guy was trying to tempt him with round two. That never worked on him. “Sorry to rush out. Really.” Not really. He couldn’t get out fast enough. He stood and almost put a hand on each of Miguel’s arms in a vain attempt at sincerity. The irritating heat in his palms made him think better of it. He clenched his fists. “I’ll call you. I promise.” The words rang so hollow in his own ears, he almost choked them back.
Miguel rolled his eyes. “And guys really believe that shit?”
Cooper gave up. This guy didn’t know him, and he wasn’t worth the effort. He shook his head and made his way toward the front door.
“You can’t use that hot body as a shield forever, Cooper Causey,” Miguel called after him.
“Whatever.” Cooper couldn’t help but slam the door behind him when he stepped out of the apartment. He leaned against the door and took a deep breath of fresh Tennessee morning air. The cookie-cutter apartment complex was quiet except for a few birds playing chase in the treetops across the street in Centennial Park.
The phone weighed his hand down. He flipped it over and stared at the screen again, his fingertips still throbbing. A familiar anxiety rumbled inside him as it did every time he made contact with his past. With that place.
He took another deep breath, pressed listen, and lifted the phone to his ear.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.