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.
“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.”
“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.”