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SidLove

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About SidLove

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    22
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    Still figuring it out
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  1. SidLove

    Chapter 9

    The next morning, a loud crashing noise came from the room next to Aidan’s, and he woke up with a start. With nothing but his boxers on, he rushed out, moving in the direction of the sound. When he reached Rick’s room, he found the bed all made up and there no sign of Rick anywhere. The bathroom door was slightly ajar, and he could see the lights penetrating through. Aidan walked toward it and cautiously knocked on the door, he stepped inside halfway, and his eyes widened. The scene inside was horrible, and it scared the shit out of him. A wet, naked Rick lay crooked on the floor with his back pressed to the bathtub, and his blue eyes seemed guilt-ridden. His hand held a now-broken towel ring, while his wheelchair was on the other side, tipped over and way out of Rick’s reach. “Shit!” Aidan swore loud enough to echo in the room. He quickly grabbed a towel and threw it around Rick’s body. “What the hell happened here?” “I’m so sorry.” “Come on. Put your arms around me.” He did as asked. Rick felt warm against his naked skin from the hot bath he’d taken and Aidan got a little wet himself from the contact. As he sat him carefully, perched on the edge of the bathtub, he went to get the wheelchair and helped him into it. “I was trying to transfer back into my chair, but it skidded out of my hands, and I fell. I also broke this when I tried to hold onto it on my way down. I’m sorry.” He held up the circular holder that was previously attached to the wall. “Gimme that,” he scolded. He snatched it from Rick’s hand and threw it away. “But Rick, I told you. I told you last night if you needed anything, just to let me know. Why didn’t you wake me?” Aidan realized he was too loud and Rick seemed slightly afraid. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he reopened them, Rick had cast his head down feeling ashamed. So he knelt and placed his hands on Rick’s naked thighs. “Listen to me. I didn’t mean to yell at you. Look at me, Rick, please…” he begged. Rick looked up and repeated, “I’m sorry. I’ll pay you back for the…” “I don’t care about that damn thing. It was broken anyway, and I was going to get it replaced,” He snapped and reached out to take Rick’s hands into his. “What I care about is you. You could have gotten hurt badly,” Aidan said, staring into his eyes. A smile appeared on Rick’s face. “I’m not though. I fall more often than you can imagine. My body’s gotten tougher over time,” he said and giggled. “That’s so not funny.” Despite himself, Aidan smiled back. “I’m fine, don’t worry.” He squeezed the held hands for reassurance. “I’m just not used to living in such a huge space, that’s all.” “So, until you get used to navigating around here, why don’t you let me help? I know you like to be independent and all, but please, let me be around to help you with things for a while. Only until you are comfortable enough to be by yourself.” Rick’s gorgeous face remained serious as he seemed to scrutinize Aidan. “Would you let me?” he asked when Rick didn’t say anything. “Please?” He got a nod of approval, and it mitigated Aidan’s concern to quite an extent. Aidan sent for his family’s handyman Mr. Wesley to help make his home more wheelchair accessible. He had listed all the renovations he wanted in all the rooms of his house, and especially in the bathroom Rick used. Mr. Wesley promised to stop by in the afternoon immediately after his lunch hour. Next call made was to Kim. He cancelled all his appointments until the following week. “Is everything alright?” she asked, obviously concerned. “Yeah, right now, everything’s normal. But I gotta stay home. Something happened with the cat and um…Rick is staying over, so…” “Woah…what’s going on, Aidan?” He rubbed his temples. Now’s not the time. “Stop by tomorrow when you get some time, and I’ll tell you everything.” “Okay, but I was going through your schedule, and you have a meeting with Ian on Wednesday. You can’t cancel that one.” “Damn.” She was right. “Can you check with him if he’d be comfortable doing a Skype meeting instead? I can do that from home.” “Hmm, okay. I’ll speak with him and let you know.” Having Kim as a personal secretary was truly a blessing. She knew how to handle difficult situations as well. “Also, give a call to my dad, and tell him I can’t make it for the usual dinner arrangement this weekend,” he tested her. “Do that yourself, mister. My job’s to manage your professional life, not your personal hang-ups,” she snapped and ended the call. He shrugged. It was worth trying. Mrs. Hutchinson came out of the kitchen and told him lunch would be ready soon. When she found out that Rick was staying with him from now on, she cheerfully accepted the fact she’d have to cook for another person in the house. Not that Aidan expected her to react badly, but he thought she’d initially be shocked and ask some questions. But she did none of that. The woman wasn’t the prying kind anyway. She’d cooked tuna for lunch, and Rick seemed excited by that. Not only the fish but the accompanying soup and risotto smelled simply great as it was served. “Where’s the cat, Aidan?” she asked, “I thought she’d like some fish too.” “Yeah, I haven’t seen Bratty for a while,” Rick added. “She’s at the Butler’s—that’s where I found her yesterday,” he explained to Mrs. Hutchinson who didn’t know the entire story. “They are going to let her stay for a while, and Mr. Butler promised to bring her back later.” Mrs. Hutchinson smiled sadly and scurried inside mumbling something. “I think she’s gone back to look for her babies,” Rick said, sounding low. He took a spoonful of his soup and sipped. Aidan nodded. “Mr. Butler said she kept going back to the place in the garage where she gave birth. It took a while for them to calm her down because she kept mewing loudly around their house.” “She was calling out to them…to her kittens.” He couldn’t help but imagine it. It sucked all the happiness out of him, and all that was left in his heart was misery. Bratty was a mother who’d just lost her babies. Even though she couldn’t express her pain in words, her actions spoke louder. “I don’t know how to help her.” At that moment, he felt like he’d lost his best friend. “Time heals every wound. She’ll move on, Aidan.” Rick stirred his soup aimlessly. “Why does fate have to be so cruel?” Aidan realized it wasn’t Bratty he was talking about anymore. He sighed. “Rick, you’re stronger than this. The Rick Mahoney I’ve come to know does not blame fate or anyone else for his troubles. From what I’ve heard of your past, you’ve seen far worse days than this, and you’ve come out of them without falling apart.” “But I’m tired, Aidan.” His glassy eyes looked vulnerable. “How long do I have to keep fighting? All I wanted was to not be a burden on anyone. I wanted to be a part of a happy family. I wanted to live in a place I could call my home. But my dad died and with that, everything I wanted from life ever since was taken away from me.” “Rick…” Aidan was at a loss for words. He shook his head. “You can’t say anything that’d make me feel any better, Aidan. I…” He put his spoon down and pushed his chair back. “Please, excuse me. I’m sorry, but I’m really not very hungry.” Aidan wanted to stop him. He wished to confess his love for Rick, and he hoped it would make him feel better. He knew it would definitely be one of the best things that had happened to him in his life. But the fear of rejection still overruled his confidence. Dejected, he too left his half-eaten food on the table and asked Mrs. Hutchinson to put everything in the refrigerator. Hopefully, dinner wouldn’t end up being as sad. Wesley worked hard through the following week. He had soon fixed things so efficiently and skillfully that Aidan was impressed by the job done. There were rails in the bathroom for the toilet and the bath, and a superb rechargeable-battery-powered swivel seat so Rick could easily get in and out of the bath whenever he wanted. The shower stall now had a new flat tray, and Mr. Wesley had found a special wheelchair to use as a shower seat and fastened up rails too. Outside, near the patio where there were steps down, Wesley had solidly fixed some planks as a ramp which definitely looked odd but it would help Rick to get in and out of the house without Aidan’s help. He also did the same near the backyard. He painted the planks white to match up with the color of the steps and afterward they didn’t look so weird anymore. At the end of all the work, as Mr. Wesley left, Aidan tipped him generously to show his appreciation. The house suddenly felt empty as he shut the front door behind the man and he wondered where Rick might be. The last place he’d seen him was in the living room, and then he’d disappeared. Bratty was nowhere to be found either. Mr. Butler had brought her back just before Mr. Wesley had arrived again that afternoon and ever since then it seemed, she’d disappeared back to the corner she’d found to hide from the world. Evening light coming through the undraped window panes gently illuminated the rooms. He checked both the bedrooms and found them as empty as the living room. He looked into the bathrooms too, but they remained vacant. While on his way to check the backyard, Aidan peeped into the kitchen as well. When he didn’t find either of them in the backyard, Aidan got worried. The only room in his house he hadn’t checked was his art studio. The sight in his art studio was picturesque. In his wheelchair, Rick sat by the window while Bratty rested on his lap. They both looked serene, though a little sad too, as they looked out of the window. The setting sun threw soft light on the two, which cast their shadows behind them on the floor. Aidan stood by the door mesmerized by the beauty and depth of the scene. He could feel the emotions inside that room quite strongly. He hadn’t realized until then that Rick and Bratty had both gone through mid-life crises which although obviously different in their own ways, they probably both shared the same emotions at that moment. Hurt, anger, pain, sadness, and grief. In each other’s company, Rick and the cat both felt a sense of comfort. Something of the kind Aidan couldn’t have given to either of them. He didn’t regret it. Instead, he was glad they had each other. Aidan took out his phone from his pocket and turned the camera on. They both looked so beautiful. That moment was beautiful and worth capturing in a painting. This one would be something personal he’d cherish and never put up for sale. He could feel it. It would be his best painting ever! It got darker, and Rick returned back to the present. Probably sensing Aidan’s presence, he looked in his direction and slowly, a sweet smile crept on his lips. “Hey,” he said breaking the silence. “Hey.” Hearing Aidan’s voice, Bratty looked up too and jumped out of Rick’s lap. She ran up to him and meowed between his legs. That’s the Bratty I know. He felt a tug in his heart when he picked her up and held her close to his chest. Rick grinned. “How long have you been standing there?” “Not too long,” he lied, as he petted Bratty’s head. She definitely appreciated the love. “I was planning to heat up some dinner now. So I thought I’d ask you. Are you hungry?” The guy nodded. “I’m starving,” he said looking sheepish. The expression on his face made Aidan laugh out loud.
  2. SidLove

    Chapter 8

    Aidan barely ate that day. The dinner Mrs. Hutchinson had made for him ended up stuffed inside the refrigerator untouched. Soon, though, he sensed a massive headache coming on. He decided to take a shot of black coffee to help it and put the kettle on to boil. Resting himself back at the kitchen counter, his train of thoughts went back to the moment when Rick’s brother-in-law had caught them kissing. Rick did tell him the guy was a total homophobe and from what Aidan had witnessed, Victor was sure to create some sort of difficulty in the poor guy’s life. Aidan felt guilty for that. He retrieved his phone and for the tenth time that night brought up Rick’s number on the screen. Pressing the call button, he disconnected almost immediately and shook his head. No, don’t call him, he told himself over and over again. Aidan feared Victor would be keeping a close watch on Rick after that evening’s incident and he didn’t wish to create more trouble. But then he also wanted so badly to hear Rick’s voice. He needed to know the guy was okay but only if he could find out in some way that’d not piss off his brother-in-law… As he poured the brewing coffee into his mug, his phone went off and an unknown number displayed on the screen. “Aidan Ross,” he announced, taking the call almost immediately. He picked up the mug with his other hand and walked into his living room. “Mr. Ross, hi.” The unfamiliar voice on the other end spoke, and Aidan furrowed his brows. “This is Howard Butler, your neighbor. You stopped earlier this morning asking after a cat?” Aidan burnt his tongue taking a bigger sip than he could handle and huffed. Bratty! “Yes!” he screamed in excitement. “Yes, that was me.” He was the same old man who had said he’d heard a cat in their backyard the previous night. “Well, I think we have her here. I went to find some stuff in our garage, and there she was, hiding behind a table. I almost missed her.” Aidan felt elated but didn’t want to get his hopes up. “Are you sure it’s my cat? I mean, it could be any cat, right?” “Positive. You left a snap of her with us, remember?” he said, and Aidan’s worries calmed down. “And you mentioned she was pregnant too and I think…” The hesitation in his voice freaked him out. There was a hushed conversation on the other end which Aidan could barely hear. He heard Howard talking to his wife, and she sounded irritated. “Mr. Butler?” He coughed. “Yes, Mr. Ross. You should get here as soon as you can. There’s something wrong with your cat, and I don’t want to tell you over the phone.” “I’ll be right there.” A horrible feeling settled within him. He pocketed his phone along with the house keys and his wallet and was out of the house in no time. The hot mug of coffee sat abandoned on the center table, lazy steam rising from it. ***** Bratty had given birth. But she had given birth to two stillborn kittens. When Aidan stepped in front of her, she looked up. There was a glint of recognition in her eyes, but they looked tired. A soft meow managed to come out of her mouth. That sound was one of the most depressing things he had come across in his life. Aidan felt an uncomfortable tingle in his nose as he fought back the tears. Bratty turned away to look beside her. She meowed again, but there was no voice this time. Aidan followed her gaze and saw both of the tiny kittens lying motionless with the umbilical cords still connected. “You should be ashamed of yourself, young man. Putting your cat through something like that!” The old lady sniffed somewhere behind him as she scolded him. “Susan, I told you. Stay out of people’s business,” Harold snapped at her, and his shaky hands touched Aidan’s shoulder who didn’t dare to move. “Please forgive her. She is quite sensitive when it comes to animals, especially cats.” “A cat needs to be spayed in time. If you cared for her enough, you’d have done that long ago.” Aidan turned his head to look at her. She blew her nose and stared back. Her face was red, and she looked extremely affected by the situation. Personal experience? “She was already pregnant when I found her at my doorstep…like a few weeks back. I didn’t know to…I mean…” Her facial expression changed immediately, and she slapped her mouth. “I’m so sorry,” she murmured. “No, it’s okay.” He turned back to Bratty and felt sorry for her. “You’re right. She should’ve been spayed long ago. This day would never have come I guess.” He soon realized this was not the time to break down and quickly composed himself. Bratty needed immediate medical attention. With Mr. Butler’s assistance, he took Bratty and the kittens to the vet. He’d called ahead so when they reached the practice, the vet was all set to attend to her. It was a deadly virus which had infected the kittens and ended up killing them. The vet had told Aidan the name, but for the love of God, he could hardly pronounce it then, let alone remember what it was exactly. What mattered to him was Bratty’s good health. Aidan worried himself with the thought his cat might have gotten the virus too, but when the vet assured him that she was perfectly fine, he heaved a sigh of relief. “You’ll need to give her a lot of attention for the next few days,” the vet advised. “You may find a change in her behavior or her sleeping patterns might change, but that’s perfectly normal. Of course, if you think she’s getting worse, give me a call, and I’ll be happy to take a look at her.” He arrived home with Bratty somewhere after eleven that night. As soon as he put her down, Bratty sprinted in the direction of Aidan’s bedroom. He sighed, feeling dejected by it all. Bratty was back, and he couldn’t be happier about it, but she’d changed. It wasn’t because she wasn’t a pregnant cat anymore. It was the way she looked at Aidan. Her sad eyes stared at him differently, and it made him feel guilty as hell. Did she blame me for losing her kittens? He wondered again if his lack of presence around her the past couple of weeks had led to this. Aidan felt the need to talk to Rick. He retrieved his phone from his back-pocket and called. Rick didn’t answer his call the first time, and Aidan’s concern elevated. Maybe he’s just sleeping. As he was about to put his phone away, he had second thoughts. Deciding to try one more time, he speed-dialed the number again. It took Rick a while to receive the call, but when he did, Aidan exhaled with relief. A timid “Hi” came from the other side. “Hey, did I wake you?” “Uh no, I wasn’t sleeping…I was…” He hesitated. Aidan waited a few seconds for him to respond, then said, “Rick? Is everything okay?” “Yea.” He cleared his throat and reiterated confidently, “Yea, everything’s just fine. Don’t worry.” However, the confidence in his voice sounded fake to Aidan. It concerned him. “Okay, um…listen, I called up to tell you I found Bratty.” “You did?” he asked with sudden excitement in his tone. “How? Where was she? Is she okay?” The last question was hard to answer. “Um…she was hiding in the Butlers’ garage. They found her and called me up. She…she lost her babies. I actually just got back from the vet’s.” “No! What?” “Yea.” Aidan felt the exhaustion inside him. He rubbed his face with the other hand and huffed. “There were two still-born kittens. Some sort of virus got them.” “That poor cat…” There was a pause. They took their time getting their thoughts back in place. “How’s she holding up?” “I don’t know, Rick, I really don’t know if Bratty is okay. She isn’t herself, that’s for sure.” “I can understand that. She must be grieving over their loss. It’s natural, she’s a mom. But…Aidan, all you can do for her right now is be there for her. If you can, try to be at home as much as you can for the next few days. Don’t leave her alone, please.” He nodded. “Yea, totally. That’s what the vet suggested too. I’d already made up my mind about that.” “Are you holding up okay?” Rick asked. “I’ll be fine. I’m sad, of course, about the kittens. But…I feel so guilty.” “Why? None of it was your fault. Things like that happen all the time. It’s beyond your control.” “I know, I know…just…” Aidan pursed his lips and said closing his eyes. “Ugh… I’m a bad person. I used to think about Bratty’s kittens and wonder what mess they’d make around the house. I thought of them as a problem, and maybe that’s why fate took them away from my cat.” “Aidan! That’s ridiculous. You’re crazy.” “Rick…” He sniffed and went to sit on the couch. Resting his elbows on his thighs, he held his head with one hand. “I need you. I can’t do this alone.” Surprisingly, Rick did not respond to that. He looked up, his brows furrowed. “Are you there?” “Yes.” “Okay, well,” he spoke cautiously. “I’ll come over to get you tomorrow then. Around ten-ish? It would be…” “No.” “… great if…wait, what?” Aidan thought he heard it wrong. But when Rick repeated it, he was taken aback. “Why?” “I can’t, I’m sorry.” He waited for Rick to elaborate more but there was dead silence on the other end. “If you’re worried about your brother-in-law getting mad…” “He’s kicking me out.” Aidan sat in his place, looking stunned. He couldn’t believe his ears because he couldn’t imagine someone being that cruel to Rick. Soon, his initial feeling of shock turned to anger. “How can he do that? Didn’t your sister say anything to him?” “She did. And honestly, she has done enough for me. I can’t expect more.” His voice came off shaky. The poor guy was trying hard not to cry. “But it’s her house too, right? She has an equal say over whether you stay or not.” “They had an awful fight. The whole neighborhood could hear them.” “And?” “And he finally said it was either him or me who could stay in her life.” “What? That’s not fair!” Aidan screamed out of his lungs. The exhaustion he felt a while back was all gone. Right now, he was worried sick about Rick. “That’s what Jenny said to him. But he was adamant.” Finally, a sob left his mouth, and Aidan’s heart broke by that sound. “This is what happened when my mom had to let me go. And she chose my stepfather over me.” “Rick…that doesn’t mean your sister would make the same decision.” He snorted. “That’s what I’m afraid of.” “Huh?” “I’m afraid that she’d choose me over her own husband. She loves me too much to let me go. And that’s why I’m making it easier for her by choosing to leave.” “I’m sorry.” He didn’t know what else to say. “I told her that, and she wouldn’t let me make that decision. But I told her I couldn’t stay somewhere I wasn’t respected, and Victor would never respect me for who I am.” “You know what, Rick? Good on you. I’m so proud of you for doing that.” “Thank you. And even Jenny understood. But she’s worried thinking about where I’d go.” Aidan had the same exact question. “Yes, Rick. Where will you go?” “I was thinking back to Missouri.” “Back to your mom’s?” His heart sank. Rick was leaving. That’s all he could think of. “No, I wouldn’t ever go there again. I thought I’d call up some of my friends and see if they’d let me crash for some days.” “So…when were you planning to tell me?” “I…” When there was a long pause, Aidan understood what he meant to say. “You’ve got to be shitting me. You were just going to leave?” “Not really, I would have left you a message…or something.” “Is that how much I mean to you? That I don’t deserve a proper goodbye?” Rick sniffed twice before he softly said, “You mean so much to me, Aidan, that I can’t say goodbye to you without breaking down.” Damn tears! Aidan’s eyes welled up, and uncontrollable tears streamed down his cheeks. He tried to speak up, but his throat felt constricted, and no words managed to come out. On the other end, he could hear Rick sobbing too. He had no idea until now how they’d managed to become so attached to each other that the mere thought of being apart hurt them immensely. Aidan had never felt so strongly for someone ever before. All the people—men or women—who he’d dated before had never impacted his life so much that they’d become a part of it. In the matter of the few days they’d gotten to spend with each other, Rick had become a part of his life. I love him. Aidan was certain. He’d fallen head over heels in love with the man. And he didn’t want to let him go. He quickly recovered from his emotional breakdown as soon as he’d made his mind up. Wiping his tears, he exclaimed, “Oh, God! You should see me right now…I’m such a mess.” Rick laughed between his sobs. “Same here.” “Alright.” Once he was back to normal, he said, “Listen to me carefully, now. You aren’t going anywhere, you get that? I’m coming right now to get you. You can stay with me for as long as you want. Pack your stuff and be ready. I’ll be there in half an hour.” It wasn’t an easy task convincing Rick to accept the offer, but Aidan managed to do so with great patience. The agreed deal was that he would stay until he could find a permanent job and decent accommodations in the city. Knowing Rick, Aidan was sure he would rush things to not be a burden. For now, though, he felt content the guy wasn’t going to end up miles and miles away from him. Rick finally gave him the address to his sister’s place. It was just after midnight when he reached the location, and he parked in front of the building. Rick wheeled his chair out, looking forlorn. A skinny woman, seemingly in her mid-thirties, followed him. Her blonde hair was all over the place, and she wore a skirt and a blouse which had definitely seen better days. She bent down and kissed him on the cheek, whispering something to him. As soon as Aidan got out of his car and came forward to greet her, she held him by his bicep. Her eyes had moistened with a fresh set of tears, as she said, “Thank you. Please take good care of him.” Aidan gave a curt nod and felt a weird awkwardness to say anything at that moment. By the time he helped Rick to settle inside the car and put his small case in the trunk, she’d disappeared inside the building. “Victor is sleeping. She was afraid he’d wake up and find us out here,” Rick explained. “That would be a drama you wouldn’t want to be a part of.” He shrugged. “Try me. I’d introduce my fist to his nose. Didn’t get a chance back when we met in the park.” Rick broke into a fit of giggles, and it was enough to make Aidan smile. He realized it was the first time he’d smiled that day. And what a long day it had been! He shelved the day as one of those he would never forget in his entire life. Neither of them spoke again during the drive back to Aidan’s. When they got home, he asked Rick if he wanted to eat anything. But he simply said he was too tired to do anything but sleep. So, he guided him straight to the guest room. “If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to wake me up, okay?” “I’ll be fine.” Rick smiled lazily and yawned. “Alright, get changed and go to sleep.” When he reached his bedroom, he found Bratty sleeping on one side of the bed. He stripped down to his underwear and threw his discarded clothes in the laundry basket. Quietly getting under the bedcovers, he felt an urge to pet the resting cat. He turned over and ran his hand gently down her back. The cat purred but did not open her eyes. He repeated stroking her a few times, sighed and rolled over from his side to lie flat on his back. Reaching up to turn off the lights and adjust the air conditioning temperature to his preference, he then got himself comfortable. He stared up at the ceiling thinking about Rick. Aidan was in love, and he was in love with Rick. Happiness overwhelmed him with the realization. He couldn’t wait to tell Rick. He could have told him over the phone call, but he thought it better to say it face to face. Also, he was afraid of how the guy would take it. Would Rick freak out? Or would he say he loved Aidan back? Only time will tell. He knew Rick liked him a lot—that’s what he got from the way he’d been kissed. But was it love? His eyes became heavier by the minute, and he slipped slowly into a deep slumber between brainstorming ideas on how he could finally tell him I love you.
  3. SidLove

    Chapter 7

    Aidan had a lot on his mind. It had been a busy week and he just wanted to sleep, but there was one call he had to make before he hit the hay. Rick took the call almost immediately. “Hey,” he said. “I didn’t expect you to call tonight. I assumed you’d be exhausted.” That he was. All the traveling he’d done going to New York and back on the same day had been extremely tiring. “Yeah, you can’t imagine the day I’ve had.” While fully clothed and with his shoes on, he let himself fall back on the bed. He had no desire to do anything else. “But I had to hear your voice before I slept.” “That’s flattering.” Aidan smiled. “I’m sorry I hung up on you earlier today. I felt awful but the meeting was going on so long, and I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t help it.” “I understand, don’t worry. I’ll let you off the hook just this once,” Rick said in a playful tone which made Aidan laugh. “Thanks, I guess.” He rubbed his eyes and yawned. “Why did you call though?” “Because I felt like hearing your voice.” Aidan’s heart filled with affection. “What did you do today?” “Not much. My sister had a day off, so I helped her straighten the house and cooked. Boring, I know, but I also got to spend some time with her. It was nice.” “Not boring at all. I wish I could get more time to spend with my little brother. But our schedules never match.” “What does he do? His name’s Aaron, you said, right?” “Yep,” Aidan replied and yawned. “He is doing law at Harvard.” “Wow.” “I tell you, he’s the smart one of the two of us.” Aidan suddenly remembered something and sat up. He had noticed something on his way to the bedroom but wasn’t sure. He stood up and walked toward the kitchen. “Aidan?” “Huh?” He focused back on Rick’s voice. “Sorry, what did you say?” “Did you doze off?” Rick giggled on the other end. However, Aidan remained unaffected by the happy sound. “Um…no.” He rubbed his forehead as fear and worry took over his senses. “It’s Bratty. I don’t think she’s come home for the past two days.” “What? Why?” He looked down at her feeding bowl. “You know she wasn’t around yesterday, and I did not see her this morning either. I thought she would come by during the day so I left some food for her before I left. It’s still there, and I don’t see her around either.” “That’s not good. Listen,” Rick said in a serious tone, “why don’t you go outside and call her. She might be around.” Aidan pursed his lips for a moment as he considered. “Yeah, I’ll do that.” “Don’t disconnect, I’ll hold. Let me know when you see her.” Aidan did exactly as he was asked. He called her by name and even made the funny sounds people usually made to call their cats, but his attempts were in vain. He checked the lawn, the backyard and also checked all the other rooms. But she was nowhere to be found. “She isn’t here, Rick,” he said speaking into the phone. “Where could she have gone? What if something has happened to her? She’s pregnant, and she hasn’t eaten anything for God knows how long.” “Calm down, Aidan. Please.” Rick’s soothing voice fell on his ears, and Aidan closed his eyes. He breathed in and out. “I’m sure she’s alright. Cats are known to be the roaming kind. And Bratty’s due to give birth any day now. So she must be around. She’ll be nesting, trying to find a warm and safe place for that.” “But why does she have to go outside the house for that? She could give birth in here.” He chuckled. “You never know with cats. They’ll do things just as they please even if it wouldn’t make sense to us. One of my aunt’s cats had her kittens in the garage of all places.” “Fuck! I didn’t check the garage.” He sprinted out. After a careful look in every nook and cranny, he said with dejection, “Not here.” “Aidan, will you listen to me? I’ve got a plan.” “Shoot.” “Right now, you’re exhausted. So, go and get some sleep.” Aidan tried to interrupt, but Rick continued, “Tomorrow, you come pick me up, and we’ll go around the neighborhood to look for her. Someone might have seen her somewhere, and they’ll let us know. Do you have a picture of her?” “No, but I’m sure Kim has. She took a selfie with Bratty recently. I’ll ask her to share it.” Aidan agreed with Rick’s plan but he also worried tomorrow would be too late. What if Bratty was in some kind of trouble? “Aidan?” “Hmm?” “We’ll find her, okay? Don’t worry.” Aidan nodded and sighed. “Thanks, Rick. I’ll be there tomorrow.” Next morning, Aidan woke up with hopes of seeing Bratty back home. He scanned every room once again. However, it turned out to be a disappointing effort. With Rick’s plan in mind, they knocked on every door in Aidan’s neighborhood asking about his lost cat. But no one had seen Bratty lurking around. One of the old couples did say they heard meowing in their backyard the previous evening, but nothing after that. So they assumed she must have left. They kindly offered to look more closely and keep an eye out in case the cat turned up again. The sun stared at them through the crystal-clear sky and suddenly, Rick’s stomach rumbled noisily. Aidan turned to see the embarrassed look on his face and realized the guy hadn’t eaten anything since they’d’ started out. If it had been just him, he would have skipped lunch and continued his search for Bratty. But Rick was with him. “There’s a café right down the block.” Aidan pointed in that direction as he said, “We can grab something to eat.” For a moment, it looked as though Rick wanted to argue but he opened his mouth only to close it again. He nodded, then agreed, “Yeah, let’s.” Aidan hardly ate anything. His chicken sandwich lay on his plate half eaten as he moved on to sip on his espresso. He needed something strong to keep him going. He hadn’t gotten a peaceful sleep the previous night, and his body ached for some rest. However, his mind wouldn’t let him stop, reminding him every moment of how it was his fault Bratty had left. If he’d been nicer to her, she would’ve had more of a reason to stay. A warm hand reached out to touch his fingers, and Aidan looked across into Rick’s oceanic eyes. They calmed him, distracted him from the buzzing train of thoughts traveling through his mind. He let their fingers entwine as they both sat there speechless. ***** “Aidan, I’m sorry but…” Aidan turned, hearing the hesitant words and looked down at Rick who rested on a park bench. Rick gave him a sad smile. “I need to get back home. It’s getting late, and my brother-in-law will be home in an hour.” Aidan looked around the park they’d come to and ran his hand through his hair. It was pointless. The park was too far from his place. Bratty would never come here. But because someone had suggested it, Aidan thought to give it a try. After a half an hour’s effort asking around the place, he knew it had been a waste of time. “Hey,” Rick said bringing his attention back to him. “We will find her, okay?” Aidan gave a curt nod, not really believing those words. He was scared to death now for Bratty’s safety. “Come here. Let’s just sit for a while.” Aidan stared at him feeling a little irritated. How could he suggest that? But when Rick offered his left hand, he sighed and walked over to him. Catching him by the hand, Rick pulled him down to sit beside him on the bench. Aidan eased his head onto Rick’s lap and got comfortable. It felt nice. Rick gently stroked his head. “Maybe the damn cat was run over by someone, and she’s lying dead in a corner.” It sounded harsh even to Aidan’s ears when he said it. But the thought had been lurking around in his mind for a while. “Don’t say that.” Aidan shrugged. “She wasn’t even my cat anyway.” Rick bent over and kissed his head. He then rested his own head back on the bench. “Bratty is yours. She claimed you as her owner when she came by.” In that moment, a lump formed in Aidan’s throat and he couldn’t breathe for a second. His vision blurred as tears welled up in his eyes and before he could control them, he let out a sob. “This limbo…” Rick carefully said, “of not knowing where she is. It’s the worst feeling ever. She’s dear to me too, Aidan and I don’t even have her around me all the time. So I can imagine how much she’s grown on you over the past few weeks. But don’t worry, okay?” He kissed his head again. “We’re doing everything we can to find her.” With his tear-filled eyes, Aidan turned his face up to look at Rick. A light smile played on his lips. “You’re sure we’ll find her?” he asked. “I’m positive.” Positive. Aidan wanted to stay positive and keep looking, but he also couldn't shake the nagging feeling in his chest that something was really wrong. Rick was right…they were doing everything they could think of. Aidan slowly snaked his hand to the back of Rick’s head and tugged gently downward. Their lips met for a light kiss. A calmness settled inside of him after a while and he felt good about having someone like Rick by his side. He didn’t know what he would’ve done if it hadn’t been for him. Rick had managed to keep Aidan in one piece so far. When they broke apart, Aidan simply enjoyed looking at the beautiful face gazing back at him for a while. He caressed Rick’s cheek slowly and mouthed thank you. Rick opened his mouth to say something when he was interrupted by a man’s loud coughing. “So this is what you fucking do when I’m not around?” Rick jumped at the voice of the stranger, and Aidan slowly stood up looking curiously at the two men. While one fumed in his anger, the other looked on like a timid rabbit. Aidan hated the man at first sight. He had a sinister look on his face and an evil smile while he ran his hand through his beard. “I knew you were a dick sucking faggot, but I didn’t think you had the balls to do anything about it.” “Hey,” Aidan warned. “Aidan…” Rick held his hand to stop him. “I can handle this.” He then turned to the man and said in a quivering voice, “Victor, Aidan is my friend. And we were here looking for his cat. It’s gone missing and…” “Fuck that shit. I don’t want to hear it,” he almost yelled. “You’re coming home with me right now.” Rick nodded and reached for his wheels and pulled himself back into his chair. But as he was about to push forward, Aidan grabbed the chair’s handle and pulled it back. Rick looked up at him and palmed his hand. “Aidan, I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.” Hesitantly, Aidan let go of the wheelchair and watched Rick go with his brother-in-law. This is a bad idea, he thought to himself, clenching his knuckles so hard they turned white. His heart skipped a beat when the men disappeared from his sight, and he prayed Rick would stay safe.
  4. SidLove

    Chapter 6

    The last and hottest painting of Rick was finished the next day, and Aidan felt an immense pride tagging it with the Art by Adonis signature at the bottom. He left all three portraits in his art studio and promised Rick he’d show them to him after their date. He also called Kim to give her the good news, and as expected, she couldn’t wait to see the paintings. Apparently, Monday—which was the following day—was too late for her. But Aidan didn’t care, and Kim had to give up. They would also be getting in touch with the art gallery managers to set up an appointment to showcase these new paintings to them. But all that would have to wait. For his date with Rick, he couldn’t make up his mind on what to wear. He didn’t want to be too overdressed and intimidate the guy, but he didn’t want to be underdressed and make it seem like he didn’t care. Aidan had a couple of party coats he tried on in front of the mirror but decided against wearing those because they had sparkly designs on them and it’d be totally weird. He’d planned on taking Rick to a fancy bar for dinner and drinks, and then Aidan would bring him home to show him the paintings. It was going to be a casual meetup and for that, he realized, he didn’t need to dress up really. He finally decided on one of his branded sweatshirts and a pair of jeans. By the time Aidan reached the road to get him, Rick was already there waiting on the sidewalk. As he pulled his Chevy to the side of the road, he wished the guy would just trust him with his actual home address so he could start picking him up from there. This late in the evening, the street seemed too dangerously secluded to be waiting out there alone. “Were you waiting for me very long?” Aidan asked as he carried the guy in his arms and settled him in the seat. “No, I just got here.” Rick smiled, putting on his seatbelt. “I see you’ve brought a different car today, Mr. Ross.” Aidan laughed as he put the car in drive. “Yeah, not one of my favorites. But I like to take this one on dates. In case I get lucky, the back seat is really comfortable to get some action on.” He pointed his thumb behind and winked suggestively. Rick refused to look at him, and Aidan noticed the guy was biting his lower lip, trying to contain his smile. Damn! He’s blushing. It was utterly adorable. “By the way, I want you to do something for me.” Rick’s smile grew. “What’s that?” “Get your mind out of the fucking gutter. It’s nothing kinky.” He laughed. “I just want you to stop calling me Mr. Ross. Makes me feel like an old fart.” “Then what should I call you? Adonis, maybe?” “No!” He was starting to like this side of Rick much better. The one who was relaxed and not afraid to make a joke. Because the guy had a great sense of humor which he’d discovered this past couple of days. “Just call me Aidan.” He giggled. “I’ll try.” Their destination arrived quickly, but it took Aidan almost double the time to find a parking space. By the time they found a good one, they’d reached somewhere four blocks away. Aidan sighed. “I’m sorry, we’ll have to leave the car here.” “That’s okay. I like to take a walk if the company is good.” That made Aidan smile. He stepped out from the driver’s side and hurried to get to Rick. “Aren’t you tired of this already?” He asked as Aidan put him in his wheelchair. “Tired of what?” “Helping me in and out of your car.” He laughed softly. “Nah. Gives me a reason to show off my strength.” To make his point, Aidan flexed his biceps. His gym routine had definitely helped in building great muscles. The tightened shirt boasted the proper shape of his biceps and triceps. “Come on.” They started walking down the busy street. Rick looked up at him with a smile. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me why I’m in a wheelchair.” He took a pause before asking, “Aren’t you even a little curious about it?” “Erm…I am.” This is awkward. “I’ve meant to ask you but…I really had no clue how to bring it up.” “You, Aidan?” Rick looked surprised. “Really?” “Well, yeah.” He laughed. “So, now that you’ve brought it up, I want to know.” “An autoimmune disease called CIDP. It got me when I was like three years old?” He shrugged. “They treated it. But it was too late. CIDP can be cured but only if they identify it early on. By the time we got a proper diagnosis, my muscles had been attacked and wasted. My legs below the knees are the worst, and they never did recover. It’s not like I can’t move my legs, I can. But they can’t bear my weight so I can’t stand let alone walk. So, the wheelchair has been with me for as long as I can remember.” “That’s kinda sad, man.” “I’m not.” He grinned. “I guess I’ve just gotten used to it now. I mean, being in a wheelchair has its own perks too.” Aidan chuckled. “Well, it’s nice to see you’ve accepted the circumstances…that you’ve kept going.” “It doesn’t make sense complaining about something I can’t change, does it?” Aidan shook his head in response, and they exchanged an understanding smile. “So, what’s this place you’re taking me to?” “It’s a bar I personally like to go to sometimes. Great food, great music and it’s not too loud either. I mean, you’ll understand what I’m saying over the noise.” Rick nodded. “Great. How far is it though?” “It isn’t that far from here,” he said and gestured with his hand. “It’s just around the corner two blocks away.” When they reached the bar, Aidan was talking about his plans for Rick’s portraits. “I’m confident they’ll definitely get a place in the art exhibition. It’s happening sometime next month. A lot of art lovers with big pockets come to appreciate these types of paintings.” He smiled and turned to the guy who worked at the entrance. “Hi, table for two.” The man led them in and offered them a fantastic table by the window. He handed them the menu cards and left. Immediately, their server came along. She didn’t look older than nineteen to Aidan. Her name tag said Stacey. “Good evening guys,” she said in her extremely cheerful voice. “How’re you today?” Rick simply smiled back. “Good, good.” Aidan nodded to her and gestured between him and Rick. “We’re on our first date.” “Aww, is it? And here I was thinking of a way to give my number to your friend here.” She eyed Rick adoringly, and he blushed. “He’s really cute.” “And…” Aidan reached out to hold Rick’s hand on the table. “He’s all mine for the night.” She held her hands up. “Alright, alright. I got the message loud and clear.” Stacey giggled and asked, “Can I get something to drink for you?” “Um…” Aidan let go of Rick’s hand and glanced at the menu. “I think I’ll have a beer. What about you Rick?” “Yep, beer sounds good.” Neither of them had decided what they wanted to eat yet, so they asked Stacey to come back later. When she left, Rick had a sly smile on. “Why do I get a feeling that I’m on a date with a really possessive guy?” It took Aidan a few seconds to realize Rick was referring to his reaction toward Stacey’s flirting. He narrowed his eyes trying extremely hard not to smile. “Oh, yeah, I don’t like sharing. What’s mine is mine.” “That’s tough then.” Rick feigned a look of concern. “Because you see, I don’t date possessive guys. They’re bad news.” Aidan shrugged. “Maybe you’re right. But they also make awesome bed partners.” He winked suggestively. “Aidan!” Rick laughed. “Do you ever think before you speak? We’re in public right now you know?” “So what? Like Kim says, I don’t have the same filters as normal human beings do. What’s on my mind is on my tongue.” He stuck it out teasingly and snickered. “It’s also one of the things I like about you, Aidan,” Rick shyly admitted. “Thanks.” It made Aidan smile. “But it has also gotten me into trouble many times.” Stacey came back with their beers, and they ordered food right away. As they lazily sipped on their drinks and talked, Aidan realized the man sitting in front of him had been a complete stranger to him a week or so back. But now they chatted like they’d known each other for years. The comfort level he felt around Rick intrigued him because he’d never been this calm and relaxed on any dates he had been on before. Aidan had a problem. He’d always known to speak his mind, and he didn’t care a damn what someone else thought. It didn’t go down too well with the guys he met up with initially and he had decided to tone it down. So, whenever he went on dates, he’d be watchful of what he said, in turn, hiding who he truly was. Now he wasn’t sure what to do. “I’ve always had a crush on you, Aidan,” Rick confessed after Aidan asked. He’d been surprised when he had kissed him a couple of days back and kept wondering what led him to make such a spontaneous move. It was not like anything the Rick he knew would do. “Ever since I saw you on the wrong floor. Why do you think I said yes to sitting for you?” “Why?” he asked, picking up french fries from his plate to eat. Rick chewed on his food and swallowed. “Because that way I knew I could spend some time with you.” “Oh boy, aren’t you a mystery?” Aidan smiled devilishly and took a sip from his wine glass. He’d have to be mindful not to drink too much. “But you didn’t say yes right away. I literally had to beg.” He laughed. “Yeah, that was the side of me who wanted to make a sane decision and stay away from you.” “Why would you want to stay away from me?” Rick’s smile disappeared and he looked down. He simply shrugged before continuing to eat. Assuming it had to do with something he didn’t want to talk about at the moment, Aidan decided to leave it at that. He cleared his throat. “Well, for me, I guess I always thought you were an attractive man…but I couldn’t decide which part of me found you attractive. Was it Adonis—the artist—or Aidan—the man? It was the moment I saw your naked body on my bed, wrapped in only a sheet that I knew I wanted to be with you. I just couldn’t hold back, and that’s why I kissed you.” “And that gave me the courage to take the next step.” Rick dabbed his mouth with the napkin before sitting back. “Believe me, if you hadn’t kissed me first, I wouldn’t have done anything about my attraction to you. I would have let you do my paintings and then gone my separate way.” “Aren’t we glad that I kissed you then?” Aidan winked. Neither realized how the time flew by. Rick couldn’t stop raving about the dessert he had the whole time they walked to Aidan’s car. It made Aidan happy when he said it more than once. “I don’t think I’ve had such a great time in a while. Thank you, Aidan.” They arrived at Aidan’s place later than he’d expected and Rick was becoming edgier by the second. His sister Jenny had called him twice already. “Did you tell her I’d make sure you got back safely?” “She knows. She knows about you.” “Then why does she keep calling?” he asked as he let Rick in and closed the door behind them. “My brother-in-law doesn’t know I’m on a date. I told you he already hates my guts for being gay. So, Jenny’s worried he’ll find out, and this would piss him off even more.” Aidan tossed his keys on the table and switched on the lights. “Screw him. It’s your life.” “Yeah.” He laughed sarcastically. “And I’m living in his house, so his rules apply. He never lets me forget that.” “Your brother-in-law sounds like an asshole to me.” “You’ve no idea.” He rolled his eyes, then looked around the house. “Where’s Bratty? I’ve rarely seen her in the house lately.” “That makes the two of us.” Aidan shook his head, feeling worried for the cat. “Don’t know where she goes, but she’s out almost the entire day. But when I go to bed at night, she’s there waiting for me.” Rick laughed. “Maybe she’s exploring your neighborhood and getting herself acquainted.” “But she’s pregnant. Shouldn’t she stay home and rest?” “Don’t worry, Aidan. She has mothering instincts guiding her. She won’t do anything that would hurt her babies.” Aidan looked into Rick’s eyes and saw nothing but honesty. “Can I see the paintings now? It’s getting pretty late.” “Oh yes, sure.” He led Rick into his art studio and uncovered all Rick’s paintings. Aidan stepped back to stand by Rick’s side and proudly looked at his artworks with his arms folded across his chest. There wasn’t any doubt in his mind. These paintings had turned out way better than he’d imagined. His artistic intuition hadn’t betrayed him. Rick Mahoney was definitely worthy of being a subject for a portrait. There were three different perspectives he’d given through these paintings, and he hoped they’d be seen for what they were. Silence prevailed in the room, and Aidan looked down beside him to gauge Rick’s reaction. Sitting in his wheelchair, he looked absolutely stunned. He stared at the three paintings with his mouth slightly open. “I’m not that beautiful,” he whispered suddenly and so quietly Aidan almost missed it. “What?” “The paintings,” he still whispered. “You make me look beautiful in the paintings. But I’m not.” Aidan smiled. Getting down on his right knee, he lightly touched the other side of Rick’s face. “Look at me.” When he did, Aidan noticed the moistened eyes. “But you are. You’re fucking gorgeous, so very handsome and downright sexy and hot.” “No…” “Yes!” He said it so confidently Rick seemed to reconsider. Aidan’s gaze travelled down to his lips. He wanted so badly to kiss Rick again and remembered how it had felt the first time. He raised himself slightly getting closer. Rick took the hint and leaned forward. The kiss started off passionately, but the armrest of the wheelchair ruined the moment. He moved the wheelchair to turn Rick so he was facing him and that seemed to amuse the man. “You’re adorable,” Aidan murmured and bent closer to cup his face. Much to Aidan’s satisfaction, the kiss Rick initiated this time lasted for longer. It was sheer hunger for more that drove their actions. Aidan began nibbling on Rick’s left ear making him moan. He soon had a raging hard on troubling him. As he continued to explore the man’s neck with his tongue, Rick whispered, “We should go.” “No,” he said between his kisses. “I’m not letting you go. You can spend the night.” Rick giggled. “Please, Aidan.” He tried to push him away, but Aidan could see even his body wasn’t supporting his words because Rick’s hands hardly managed to move him. “Stop fighting it.” Aidan pulled him closer, craving for more. “You know you want it.” However, the wheelchair rocked for just a moment as if it would roll back and his heart skipped a beat thinking Rick was going to fall. He tightened his grip on the man and swore. “Shit.” They both broke into laughter. “I’m sorry.” Rick shook his head, continuing to laugh. “This thing isn’t always so convenient.” “Yea, definitely sex-inhibiting.” Aidan pouted, and it made him laugh harder. When their laughs subsided, Rick wiped the corner of his eyes with his fingers and said, “We should really leave though.” Aidan huffed and stood up. “Oh, alright. I’ll take you home.” As they headed out, Aidan felt he had to ask. “You didn’t tell me…what did you think about these paintings?” Rick stopped his wheelchair. He smiled up at Aidan and then turned his head to look at the paintings again. “They’re very special,” he said. “That’s what I think about them.” Rick looked at him again. “Because when I see them, I remember looking at you in those moments and thinking how I wish you were mine.”
  5. SidLove

    Chapter 5

    The second portrait didn’t take long to finish. Rick now found it more comfortable being Aidan’s inspiration. He’d once even said he felt proud he could inspire the famous artworks by Adonis. Aidan had to remind him these portraits weren’t going out to the public until the end of the year, so calling them famous just then would be inappropriate. The situation turned slightly more complex when an idea came to Aidan, and he had to tell Rick about it. He had just arrived back at his place with Rick, and instead of going to his studio, Aidan guided him to the couch area in the living room. He took a seat and tried to figure out the best way to say what was on his mind. “What is it, Mr. Ross? You look a little worried.” “Erm…” Aidan cleared his throat, gathered his thoughts again and decided to just go for it. “Last night, when I called you up, you said you were just out of the shower.” Rick nodded with a soft smile playing on his lips. “Yeah, and I told you there’s no need to worry about Bratty. Did she eat today?” “Oh yeah,” he said. “She drank a bowl full of milk this morning.” “See, I said she’d get her appetite back today.” Aidan worried himself with the fear of getting off topic. “I know, but that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.” “Okay?” “Well, when I called you, you said you’d call me back later.” “Right, because I had no clothes on.” Rick snickered, probably remembering it. Since the day they’d met, he had loosened up a lot and mostly spoke without caring what Aidan would think. “That image, of you, in no clothes…it didn’t let me sleep last night.” Rick’s laughter subsided, and the red slowly reappeared on his cheeks, brightening by the second. “I haven’t stopped thinking about it.” “Mr. Ross…” Aidan leaned forward to sit on the edge of the couch. “Don’t get me wrong. What I mean is, I couldn’t stop thinking how your naked body would look in a portrait.” Rick shook his head. “No.” “But…” “I think I know what you’re getting at and no, I wouldn’t be comfortable doing that for you.” Aidan took a deep breath. He had to convince Rick. If he could manage to do so and paint the portrait, it’d be epic. “Look, Rick, I’m a professional artist. I’ve worked with many models before who’ve sat nude for my paintings, and I’ve never…never even once crossed a line. I know you’re uncomfortable with the idea, but, let me try and ease your worries.” “You don’t understand, Mr. Ross. Not everyone wants the world to see their nude body.” “If that’s what is worrying you, we can cover up your dick with something…maybe …maybe like a sheet. We can use one, no problem at all. It won’t ruin my idea for the painting.” “Are you thinking of covering my legs too?” he asked. “Because, believe me, you’ll want to. They look really ugly when they aren’t covered. You don’t want to show them in your painting.” Aidan held his hands up. “Let me be the judge of that,” he said. “I just want to know whether or not you’re willing to do this for me.” Rick turned his face away from Aidan. He stared at a flower vase with a faraway look in his eyes. Aidan figured he was thinking this through. So, he didn’t utter a word and waited patiently. Of course, Aidan understood why Rick would say no if he did. However, he had no backup plan for the day. He wanted to paint this portrait so badly that his mind wouldn’t let him come up with any other idea. So, if Rick refused to go nude, he’d have to settle for something else. Right now, though, Aidan wanted to remain positive. Rick rubbed his face with both his hands and exhaled. “Fine,” he said, biting his lip in nervousness. “But I don’t want anyone else to see me naked. Will Kim and Mrs. Hutchinson be around today? They can’t see me either.” Aidan didn’t reply immediately. For a moment, he was dumbfounded. In the back of his mind, he’d probably assumed and accepted Rick would say no. But now Rick had agreed, it came as a pleasant surprise to him. “Kim is off today. And I’ll call Mrs. Hutchinson right away and tell her to take the day off too. We can order in something to eat.” Rick nodded hesitantly. “Um…why don’t you go into my bedroom and strip in there? You’ll find a clean robe in the bathroom. Put it on if you want.” The guy nodded and wheeled his chair toward the bedroom. Meanwhile, Aidan made a quick call to Mrs. Hutchinson. He headed into his studio and brought the easel out into the living room. He planned to have Rick resting on the couch while he drew him. He set it down and observed the surroundings. He tried to imagine Rick lying there naked. He swallowed. He’s really going to be naked. As soon as the image popped into his mind, he pushed it away and tried to concentrate on what was important. The pose didn’t work out very well in his imagination, and he wondered how the painting would look if Rick were lying on a bed. Sexy. Picking up the easel, he decided the bedroom would be a much better setting. He knocked on the half-open door and pushed it open. Aidan was greeted with the sight of a shirtless Rick who had his jeans halfway down and struggling to get them off. “Hey,” he said, “Need a hand there?” “Yes, please.” He sounded grateful for the offer and sat back. Aidan left the easel near the door and went over to him. Kneeling down, he realized Rick still had his shoes on. He first took them off carefully, and then helped him out of his pants. “There.” He folded his clothes and placed them on one of the chairs nearby. “Thank you.” Rick failed to give a convincing smile, but then, Aidan understood his nervousness. “D-Do you…um…want me to t-take the underwear off too?” “Sure,” Aidan grinned. “Full disclosure man.” He winked and watched Rick nod. With shaking hands, he pushed his boxers to his knees, and they automatically fell to the ground. Aidan picked them up and placed them carefully with the other clothes. When he looked at Rick, the guy had both his hands covering his groin. “Uh…I’ll go get the robe.” “Nah, leave it. I’ve decided we aren’t going to leave this room.” Rick looked at him, perplexed. “Are you painting in here?” He pointed at the easel behind Aidan. “Yeah, I thought this would be a better setting. What do you think?” Rick shrugged. “Can you get yourself on the bed or do you need help?” “It’s okay, I can manage.” Aidan nodded. “Great. I’ll go get my stuff set up.” He left the room to fetch whatever he needed for the time being. As he was positioning the canvas on his easel, he kept glancing at Rick. It was amusing to see his attempts at getting on the bed while also trying to maintain his dignity and keep his manhood covered. Aidan took out some extra pillows from his wardrobe and placed them randomly behind Rick. He also got a plain white sheet out and handed it to Rick. “Use this to cover yourself, but, also try and keep it a bit sexual. You know what I mean?” “I guess,” Rick said and unfolded the sheet at his own pace. Aidan closed the wardrobe door and walked over to get behind the easel. He sat on his stool and found Rick had covered his body entirely. The only part of his naked skin Aidan could see was his chest and above. Rick’s naivety made him chuckle. “Is that what would arouse you?” “Huh?” “Well, imagine I was naked in front of you and covering myself with a sheet in that way, would it turn you on?” “I-I don’t know,” he stammered. “Exactly…but if you found me in bed barely covering my body with it, wouldn’t that be more appealing?” Rick swallowed, and Aidan realized his words were affecting him sexually. The poor guy repositioned himself, probably, a tad uncomfortable and the sheet suddenly flaunted a bulge. Aidan grinned and said, “I’ll show you.” The discomfort in Rick grew when Aidan approached again. Aidan climbed onto the bed to get beside him, then carefully took hold of the top of the sheet and slowly pulled it off him. Rick’s hand immediately reached out to conceal his semi-erect cock. Aidan smiled, then draped Rick’s body again the way he wanted. “Take your hands away,” he ordered when Rick covered up his groin. Rick’s hesitation was apparent. He removed his hands, one after another. Aidan held back an urge to whistle at the sight in front of him. He knew Rick wouldn’t like it. But, truly, the man was hung. Aidan took just another moment to appreciate the beauty before covering it with the sheet. He pulled it down slightly, so the upper part of Rick’s cock was on display for a sensual tease. In the process, though, his hand brushed against it, and the hard member reacted. Aidan turned his gaze to his gorgeous model. Rick had his eyes closed and seemed to be holding his breath. Aidan touched the bare shoulders with his hands, and Rick slowly opened his eyes. Falling into their bluish depths, he made Rick lie back on the pillows. Mechanically, he guided both of Rick’s hands into the position he wanted and rearranged the sheet. Their faces were inches apart, and both men couldn’t look away. Aidan felt a little light headed, and his mind went blank for a while. An alien feeling overwhelmed him. When he came back to his senses, he found himself leaning over his model and their lips had met. He jumped off the bed like he’d been struck by with an electric current. Aidan held his hands up. “Shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…fuck!” He cried and swore some more out loud. He’d never behaved in such an unprofessional manner with any of his previously hired models. Rick must think I’m some kind of a sexual predator. He looked away in his utter humiliation. “Mr. Ross…” “This was wrong,” he said. “I’ve no clue what got into me. I promise…I promise Rick, it won’t happen again.” Maybe Aidan had imagined it, but he thought he saw a hint of disappointment on Rick’s face. Rick gave an understanding nod. The sexual tension was on the rise after that. As Aidan worked on the portrait, his mind kept going back to the moment they’d shared that kiss. It wasn’t a kiss, really, just a peck because the moment had ended too soon. Yet, it seemed like time had stopped ticking. Aidan kept asking himself, what was I thinking? But he never came up with a logical explanation for his behavior. His body had reacted on its own. His cock still remained hard at the memory. The view in front of him didn’t help much in calming him down. As an artist, Aidan was big on capturing the details. Rick had perfectly flawless skin. The small amount of hair on his chest and near the crotch brandished a sexed up, manly look. With no clothes on, Rick looked skinnier than usual. There was hardly any excess fat on any part of his body. His torso and arms were muscular from wheeling his chair around, but his legs were definitely in the worst shape. Rick had already warned him about it, but Aidan never imagined they’d be this bad. He hadn’t dared to ask him how he’d ended up in a wheelchair. He’d always seen his lower half covered by his baggy jeans and a pair of sports shoes, which looked pretty normal to him. “Stay still.” Aidan was in the process of drawing Rick’s hand. But he kept moving it to pull the sheet over his now hard cock. He tried in vain because the sheet barely covered it. “I want to…I mean…” “I know, I know.” Aidan smiled comfortingly. “But it’s okay. Leave it. I need you to stay still for some time.” Professional nude models often got fired from their jobs if they ever got a hard on when it wasn’t wanted for a portrait. Rick wasn’t one. Aidan couldn’t blame him for getting hard in this situation. It was sexy. and his dick agreed. Keeping it out of sight, he adjusted the bulge in his own pants and continued painting. Around noon, he placed an order for a large pizza. and it arrived exactly an hour later. By then, he’d gotten most of the work done. He went into the bathroom and got the robe for his model. “Here, put this on. We’ll continue after lunch.” Rick nodded. “Can you please come here and help me?” he asked. “Sure,” Aidan said and walked over to him. As he got on the bed and leaned forward, Rick put his right hand on Aidan’s chest to stop him and stared with a dreamy look on his face. His smile was also a little different this time, which confused Aidan. “What?” he whispered. The hand on his chest moved up, and Rick cupped his cheeks. What he did next, though, was totally unexpected. He rose up and closed the distance between them. Aidan’s body came to life with the touch of his lips. Each nerve in his body vibrated and begged for more. He pushed his head forward and kissed Rick back. They both moaned into the kiss. Aidan hadn’t realized it until that second how much he’d wanted this. His mind had tried to reason with all the wet dreams he’d had about Rick each night since they had met. But his body remembered feeling this hot every time he dreamt of the guy. They broke apart, gasping for air. Aidan grinned. “What was that all about?” Rick smiled shyly. “You promised not to kiss me again; I didn’t.” “Well, I did so for a reason,” Aidan said but still couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. “I’ve got some professional ethics of my own, and one of them is about not having any sexual interaction with any model I hire. And that’s why I made that promise.” “Oh…” His smile slowly disappeared. “I didn’t know. I’m sorry.” Aidan shrugged. “Now I know whatever I was feeling for you isn’t one-sided, let me rephrase it slightly.” He held the robe out to Rick and helped him into it. “This kissing, I promise, won’t happen again while we’re working. But as soon as my paintings are done and you’re paid for your services, I’ll officially take you out on a date. After that, we can fucking smooch or do whatever suits us for as long as we want.” He winked. Rick giggled, and Aidan’s heart fluttered at the happy sound coming from him. “I’d really like that.”
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