It took all of the nerve he could muster up to walk up to Danny after rehearsals on Monday afternoon and tap him on the shoulder.
“Hey, what’s going on?” Danny asked when he turned.
“I got the office finished, and the mouse, I was wondering if you had a moment to take a look,” Jax replied.
“Sure,” Danny said, before following him to the back.
Grinning, Jax pulled down the sheet he’d hung over the set, and watched Danny’s eyes light up. A smile slowly crossed Danny’s face as he walked around the piece, admiring the way Jax had weathered the wood and hung all the old posters up. The glass pane had been streaked and caked with enough residue to make it hard to see more than a shadow moving around inside, just the way Danny needed it, and the mouse.
“I can’t believe you were able to make this,” Danny said as he held the small remote control prop in his hands.
“Go ahead and put it down and I’ll show you how it works,” Jax said. So Danny set it on the floor and Jax drove it all around, showing Danny the mobility of the piece.
“It’s perfect, we’ll be able to do exactly what we need to do in that scene,” Danny said.
“Awesome, I’m glad to hear it. I’ll have the spare finished by opening night, just in case something goes wrong with this one,” Jax said.
“I didn’t even think of that, thank you.”
Danny leaned against the wall and just looked at everything for a while, then shook his head. “I’m in awe. I really thought we were going to have to cancel. I was ready to give up on the whole thing and just, I don’t know, look into getting certified to teach drama or something.”
“Well, judging from the look on your face, I’m guessing that wasn’t something you really wanted to pursue, so I’m glad I was able to spare you the misery of it all.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I love working with others and directing, and teaching playwriting courses, but drama, no, everyone likes to think they are an actor, even when they just don’t have the chops for it and some of them are downright divaish in their attitudes.” Danny explained.
“I guess that would be no fun at all to deal with.”
“Hey umm,” Jax suddenly found himself stammering and not very confident that Danny was going to say yes. “I’d umm, really like to take you out Friday night if you’re free. I was thinking we could go to a murder mystery dinner and then if you umm wanted to go out dancing?”
“Don’t you work on Friday nights?”
“Yeah, but I told Steph about the conversation we had about wanting to attend one of those dinners and check it out and she said to go for it, that is, umm, if you’ll agree to come out with me.”
“Jax, I, I’m really not sure that’s the best idea, I mean look what happened last time. I like being your friend, I don’t want us to wreck that by trying to turn it into something more.”
Jax nodded and looked away, biting his lower lip to keep from protesting. Of course Danny wouldn’t want to go out on a date with him.
“Umm..what if it wasn’t a date?” Jax blurted.
Danny looked confused, giving Jax the opening he needed to just plunge right ahead with the thought that had suddenly popped into his head.
“What if it’s just two friends hanging out?” Jax suggested, thrilled when Danny smiled.
“You know what, I can work with that.”
Sitting beside Jax at the murder mystery theater, Danny fought the urge to cover Jax’s hand with his own and lace their fingers together, if only to stop the uber thin and rather chic looking young man across from them from flirting with Jax. He’d been doing it all night, from the moment they’d sat down. At first it was just striking up a conversation, asking their names and their favorite mystery authors, but after that it had moved from speaking to both of them to asking Jax a question whenever there was a lull in the conversation around them.
For his part, Jax seemed to be ignoring him, or oblivious, Danny couldn’t be sure which. The one thing that was certain was that Jax’s head was nearly touching his own as they were bent over the notes they’d taken.
Roughly a quarter of an hour before the lights had flickered and gone out. Someone had let out a scream, which was followed by a few gasps before the lights came back on again. Looking around it was discovered that there was a bloody handprint on the arm of a woman in a lavender evening gown and her diamond necklace was missing.
A search of the area around her had yielded a few drops of blood on the floor as well, but try as they might, no one had been able to locate a body yet. Several people were quick to throw out speculation as to who the woman was and why she would be a target, and they had all been told to remain seated until inspectors came.
Of course, they all knew there was more coming and there was conversation and light laughter as meals were nibbled on and drinks were sipped.
Danny had been pleased to see that Jax had finished the food on his plate, but he was careful not to mention it, not wanting to spoil their night by making Jax upset with him.
“I think she’s the killer,” Jax whispered, his mouth so close to Danny’s ear that it made him shiver and think of inappropriate things. Keeping himself detached from the desire he felt for Jax was proving to be difficult. Hell, not viewing this as a date was getting to be difficult and they weren’t even halfway through the evening. Smiling, Jax was charming, his eyes sparkled and there was an enthusiasm to him that Danny had only been able to catch a few glimpses of in the past.
“What makes you say that?” Danny whispered back, willing himself to focus on the conversation.
“She was too calm about the blood on her arm, all of her focus was on the necklace and finding it. I don’t think she worked alone either, did you notice how much attention the sever paid to her when he was taking her order and pouring her wine. They were whispering to each other.”
“Maybe they were flirting,” Danny suggested, frowning a little as he tried to think back to those early moments at the table, but the only thing he’d really been paying attention to was the way Mr. Super Chic Gregory had been flirting with Jax.”
“Maybe, but diamonds and a gown like that flirting with the help right off the bat?” Jax shot back. “I don’t know seems kind of sketchy to me. Lady like that, I doubt she’d have a hard time attracting attention from guys, or at the very least, could have afforded a high priced escort if she’d really wanted attention tonight.”
“Good point, you think she’s one of the actresses?”
“I’d bet on it.”
“Really?” Danny said, and before he could give much thought to the plan already formulating in his mind, he grinned at Jax. “What kind of stakes.”
Jax licked his lips and looked deep into Danny’s eyes, making him blush a little as he fought to hold Jax’s gaze.
“If I’m right, you let me kiss you goodnight at the end of the evening,” Jax said.
Danny’s breath caught in his throat as his eyes widened. Jax was grinning and Danny couldn’t find it in himself to be upset, after all, he’d asked and kissing Jax had been spectacular.
“Fine, if you’re right you get to kiss me, but what do I get if you’re wrong?”
“What do you want?” Jax asked, the look of confidence on his face never wavering.
“A nightcap,” Danny said, enjoying the idea of Jax hanging out in his apartment with him, having a few drinks.
“You’re on,” Jax said as the lights went out again.
Danny gasped, then felt the warmth of a hand enveloping him, long fingers tangling with his and the press of Jax’s head against his own.
“Wonder who’ll be dead next?” Jax whispers, his lips brushing against the shell of Danny’s ear.
Me. Danny wanted to reply as warmth surged through him. He was going to go up in flames if the dance between him and Jax didn’t end soon. He kicked himself for not accepting this as a date. He really wanted this to be a date. He wanted to kiss Jax, he wanted to tangle his fingers in Jax’s hair, he wanted to feel the press of Jax’s body against his and a nice, long make out session that would leave them both longing for more. He just hopped that no matter how the night ended, there would be more without Jax pulling away again first.
The lights came back on again and everyone looked around. It was easy to spot the victim, as it was the very waiter that Jax had referenced before.
“Looks like an awfully dead accomplish,” Danny snickered.
“Doesn’t mean she didn’t kill him too,” Jax shot back, though some of his confidence looked to have slipped.
Danny couldn’t help but chuckle and stand along Jax and the rest of the diners as they moved to ‘investigate.’
“There’s blood on her dress that wasn’t there before,” Jax whispered to Danny, who glanced over at the woman and noticed nothing except the way she adjusted the fold of her skirt.
Danny walked around the ‘body’ making notes on the little pad he carried. Jax meanwhile, walked around the woman before checking out the body, saving his notes until they were back at the table together.
Dessert was served, a three layer cake with liquor flavors running through it. Danny savored it and watched as Jax ate most of his and sipped his coffee. ‘Investigators’ arrived taking statements about the robbery and murder, and while the poked around, a second body was revealed, and with it, brought the moment of truth and the participants were each invited to give their explanations of how, why and by whom the murders took place.