As they left the bar, Aidan noticed how Aaron and Jenny couldn’t take their eyes off each other. That hour-long dance had definitely worked in his brother’s favor. He exchanged looks with Rick who smiled at him secretively.
At least it wasn’t bothering him.
They were heading toward the parking lot when Aaron suddenly announced, holding Jenny gently by her forearms, “Hey guys, listen.” Rick turned his wheelchair looking curiously at him. “Rick, do you mind if I drive Jenny home in my car?” he asked cautiously.
Aidan looked down at Rick who obviously was speechless. Jenny seemed baffled too by that. She opened her mouth to say something but not a word came out. She instead turned to Rick, begging for advice. However, an awkward silence prevailed. Aaron expectantly looked at each of them for a reply. Aidan came to their rescue. “You know what Aaron, it’s getting late and I’m sure Jenny has to rest. Maybe…”
Rick held his hand to stop him mid-sentence and said, “I think we should let Jenny decide what she wants to do. I trust Aaron will bring her back to your place safely.”
It took Aidan by surprise, and he turned to Jenny curious to know what she’d say. Aaron smiled at her. “Jenny?”
She nodded slowly and said with a hesitant smile, “Okay.”
“Cool.” Aaron’s grin couldn’t have been any bigger at that moment. “I’ve parked on the other block. We’ll see you guys back at Aidan’s then.” He waved and guided her in the opposite direction.
They walked together down the street, Aidan realized how perfect they looked together. He smiled down at Rick as they both turned around continuing on their way to Aaron’s car. Rick kept stealing glances up at his boyfriend while pushing his wheelchair keeping up with Aidan’s pace. It made Aidan wonder. Did they look as perfect to others when they went to places together?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Aidan hadn’t missed the odd looks some people gave them when they went out together. Did it bother him? Not really. But initially, it did make him feel a tad bit uncomfortable. He hadn’t forgotten how his best friend Corey had frowned at him for dating Rick. But that was when he’d realized that none of it mattered because he loved his boyfriend so much that he couldn’t care less what anyone else thought about them. Rick had become a part of his life before he knew it. None of it seemed weird. It felt good; it felt so right to take Rick in his arms, going to sleep together every night. That feeling was incomparable.
He opened the passenger door and settled Rick in. Aidan found it hard to take his eyes off the guy. Rick blushed and averted his eyes. The guy was adorable. He didn’t even know how beautiful he was—inside and out. Aidan always thought his first love was the guy he’d met in high school—with whom he’d had his first time. Thinking back now, it came off as only an infatuation to him. Because he knew deep in his heart that he’d never loved anyone as much as he loved Rick. No matter what anyone thought, Aidan was certain that they were perfect for each other because no one else mattered to him more than the guy in his arms.
He leaned closer and brushed his lips against Rick’s cheek. “I love you so much,” he whispered. Rick looked up smiling shyly but his eyes stopped to look at something behind Aidan, and the sweet smile was soon lost.
Aidan followed his gaze and saw a bulked up African American man standing in front of his car. He had his hands in the pockets on his hoodie, and he stared at them with dark eyes. The man was huge, and everything about him screamed danger. Suddenly, a tall, lanky dude appeared behind him.
“Can I help you?”
“Where the hell is his fucking sister?”
Jenny! Aidan looked at Rick, and he looked pretty freaked out. Probably, he knew this man. He turned to the guy again and said, “Obviously, she isn’t here with us.” Suspicion grew within him by the second. Something about this was terribly wrong. He watched the two men exchange looks—the big guy looking daggers at his friend.
The skinny guy seemed as if he’d shit his pants. He stammered as he replied, “She came with them. We saw it.”
Fucking hell! Aidan realized they were being followed the whole time and they’d been waiting there in the parking lot expecting Jenny to tag along with Rick and Aidan.
“Where is she?” the big guy asked. Impatience was apparent in his tone.
Aidan refused to let the man’s size and demeanor intimidate him even for a second and asked, “What do you want from her?”
“We got some dues to settle with her. She and this punk put my guy in prison.” He must have picked up the perplexed look on Aidan’s face because, in the next moment, he clarified, “Victor. I’m telling you, he was one of my trusted guys, but if he starts talking, it would be the end of my gang.”
“Hey, nobody put him in prison.” Aidan raised his voice realizing the whole deal now. “He got arrested because he tried to kill his own wife.”
He smirked. “Do you think I care about any of that?” The man exchanged a funny look with his skinny accomplice and said, “Listen, why don’t you just let me talk to Vic’s girl?”
Aidan closed the passenger seat’s door and ignored the light call of his name from Rick’s mouth. He bent and started to fold the wheelchair down as he said, “Sure. Whatever you say, man. But the next time you decide on a meeting place, pick an appropriate time and place. We can have my lawyer around, and you can say whatever you want to Jenny and…” He put the folded wheelchair in the back. “And by the way, also let us know in advance, so there are no surprises, okay? G’night!”
His head was boiling in anger by the end of it, and he literally pushed the man-giant to get to the driver’s seat. It was too late to realize what a big mistake it was because it ticked the man off and he put his arm on his shoulder, made him turn swiftly and punched Aidan’s face. It happened so fast that Aidan had no time to think or act. Aidan fell backward, his head first hitting the car hood and then hard on the ground. His vision blurred for a few seconds and a sharp pain erupted. He didn’t need to check to know that his nose bled. His fist flew that hard.
“Aidan!” He heard Rick’s terrified scream echo through the secluded parking lot, followed by the sound of his car door unlocking.
The man above him bent over and held him by his shirt to pick him up. “You little shithead, do you even know who I am? I’ll blow off your head and dump your body in some trash. Nobody will ever find out.”
“Let him go!” Rick begged, and Aidan looked at his boyfriend trying to get out of the car.
“Or what?” he spat out. “You crippled bastard, you can’t do shit.”
The offensive language against Rick triggered Aidan’s anger, and he threw his fist across the thug’s face with all the energy he could coax. Before he could take another shot, though, the big guy punched him back. This time, he did not stop. The fist kept coming at him. The guy swore loudly and kept calling him names as he hit him. He could hear Rick’s begging over the name calling.
After a while, he hardly had any sense left. Aidan was thrown against the car, and the man banged his head against the hood so hard that it left an obvious dent. Suddenly, it all came to a stop. “Zig, someone’s coming.” He heard someone say. The last kick to his belly made him cough up blood, and he moaned.
He blinked hard and found Rick dragging his weight across the ground toward him. Aidan grunted, coughed again and felt a bit light headed. He knew he was about to lose consciousness. But he had to make sure his boyfriend was safe.
Rick called out as he sat near Aidan’s head and helped him to rest it on his lap. “You’re going to be okay. I’ve called for help. Stay with me. Please, Aidan.” He turned his head up to look at his boyfriend’s face. His cheeks were wet, and he shook uncontrollably. Aidan wished he could hug him and tell him it was going to be okay. He brought his hand up, wanting to touch Rick but he couldn’t. Rick took the hand and brought it to his lips. He kissed it and said, “I’m here, Aidan. I’m here.”
Aidan opened his mouth to say that he loved Rick. However, he couldn’t find his voice to utter those words. His throat hurt from the beating it had endured. All that came out was a grunt, and it all suddenly faded away.
Rick kept repeating “No, no” over and over again in his state of panic. The last thing Aidan heard was his man yelling out his name before it all turned black.