Art by Adonis, страница 1
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2018 Kris Sawyer.
Cover Art © 2017 Sidney Lowell – Creative Minds.
Cover content is for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted on the cover is a model.
Edited by: Ann Attwood
Published & Promoted by: Creative Minds Promotions
All rights reserved. This book is licensed to the original purchaser only. Duplication or distribution via any means is illegal and a violation of international copyright law, subject to criminal prosecution and upon conviction, fines, and/or imprisonment. Any eBook format cannot be legally loaned or given to others. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Creative Minds Promotions at: [email protected]
To my first love –
Although you’re gone, you’ll stay alive in my memories forever …
When a man takes an unexpected turn and ends up where he isn’t supposed to be, his fate will bring him back to his own path. But when it happens to two people at once, their fates will interlink and their paths ultimately entwine.
Aidan Ross had a long day ahead of him. First, he had to audition a few models for his upcoming project, then had to meet the gallery managers who were interested in showcasing his artworks and later that night, he was supposed to dine with his parents. Dinner with his father was more of a compulsion to him than a pleasure so he always treated it as nothing more than an appointment that blocked a monthly calendar slot. Even though Aidan dreaded sitting across him that night, he also looked forward to meeting his mother and younger brother. They always made these family meetups at least a little more bearable.
First things first, of course.
He reached the hotel sharp at nine, where and when the auditions were to take place. While checking his texts, he entered the elevator and pressed the button for the tenth floor. He read the message Kim had sent just minutes before asking where he was. ‘In the elevator right now.’ He texted back, thought for a moment and texted again, ‘Are all the guys here already?’
Kim replied almost immediately. ‘Yes!!!’ Another message followed. ‘And they’re brewing hot for you.’
Aidan laughed to himself. The elevator door dinged and opened. He stepped out and walked down the lobby looking for his room number. The lobby was deserted and it didn’t take long for him to realize this wasn’t his floor. “Shit!” He swore under his breath and headed back to the elevator in a hurry.
That’s when he ran into a man in a wheelchair. Aidan couldn’t help losing his balance and fell forward. The wheelchair wobbled and threatened to tip to one side. Thankfully, Aidan had the sense to hold onto it and save the man as well as himself from any mishap. When he looked up, his face was so close to the man’s that if he’d moved even an inch forward, their noses would have touched.
But he didn’t move. He couldn’t move.
The sight in front of him was picturesque. The man had shut his eyes tightly, obviously freaked out by the impact and expected the worst. But the natural beauty in his facial expression enchanted Aidan. He had never seen such a shiny, flawless skin on any man. It wasn’t makeup, he could tell. What stood out more to him was the man’s high cheekbones and full red lips.
The man slowly opened his eyes and the blue orbs looked back curiously.
Aidan smiled and took a step backward to stand up straight on his feet again. “I hope you’re okay.”
“Uh-yeah.” The man nervously pushed back the strands of blond hair from off his forehead and said, “I’m so sorry. I was supposed to get out at the eleventh floor and I just realized this isn’t it. I’m so stupid, I know.” His cheeks turned red.
Aidan laughed. “Apparently, so am I.”
“I mean I got off at the wrong floor too.” Aidan bent down to pick up his phone and checked it for any damage. Thankfully, there wasn’t even a scratch on it. When he looked up, the man was ready to wheel his chair toward the elevator. “Do you need any help?”
“I’m good, thanks.” He said without giving Aidan another glance. The man wheeled himself ahead and reached the elevator. They rode up together. Aidan kept stealing glances at the man, who was keenly looking at the numbers changing on the screen.
When the elevator arrived on the tenth floor, Aidan double checked before getting off. He looked back to smile at the beautiful face. He knew he was making a mistake letting the guy go just like that. As the door slid to a close and Aidan struggled to say something, he caught the stranger giving an uncertain smile back.
It took a lot of effort from Aidan to try and get the man’s gorgeous face out of his mind but it still teased him every now and then as the morning progressed. As an artist, Aidan had developed that skill of appreciating true beauty when it surrounded him and could easily identify what could become a great painting. He was certain he would be truly lucky if that particular man’s portrait could be added to his collection, because it would become one of the finest works of art he had ever made.
But, sadly, he had missed an opportunity. And what were the chances he would meet the man again?
The models came and went. They auditioned, shared their portfolios and answered some of the questions Aidan asked. Some did impress him quite a lot, but somewhere his mind still compared them with the guy he’d bumped into earlier leaving him inexplicably with utter disappointment.
When the last guy had left, he watched as Kim’s head appeared through the half-open door. Kimberly Hobbs had worked for him for the past two years as his personal secretary. Ever since the beginning, they had bonded so well Kim knew exactly what Aidan wanted and it almost always got done before he could even tell her. She was in her mid-thirties and a mother of two, but she looked younger than his twenty seven years. Her blood red lipstick and brown hair tied up in a tight bun was the usual signature style she flaunted every single day.
“Do you know a Mr. Pattinson? I never saw him in any of your appointments, so I thought I’d ask.”
“Pattinson?” Aidan racked his brain to put any familiar face to that name but nothing came up. “No, why?”
“There’s a guy here. He says his name is Rick Mahoney and that Mr. Pattinson sent him for the interview.”
Aidan had no clue who Rick Mahoney was or a Mr. Pattinson for that matter. None of the names rang any bells. He made a hand gesture signaling Kim to let him in. “I might as well meet him and see if I can remember anything.” He told her and waited.
Kim moved aside and held the door open for Rick. “Mr. Mahoney, my boss will see you now.”
A familiar face came into view as Rick entered, wheeling his chair inside the room and Kim closed the door to give them some privacy. Aidan couldn’t help the grin that appeared on his face. Of course, he’d recognized this man. Not because he knew who Mr. Pattinson was – but Rick was the same guy he’d met earlier that day. “Hey, you’re the guy on the wrong floor.” He said it as a matter of fact. “Didn’t think we’d meet again so soon.” It was a pleasant surprise.
Rick seemed surprised too and a bit intimidated. “I’m sorry, Mr. Gilbert. I didn’t realize it was yo
“Gilbert?” Aidan laughed. “I’m not Mr. Gilbert. My name’s Aidan Ross and I’m an artist. I was interviewing male models here for my next set of paintings. I’m guessing you are here for that too?”
“No, no, no…” The color had drained from Rick’s face. “I’m not a model. I think I must have come to the wrong interview.” Aidan tried to concentrate on the words as Rick rambled on but his nervousness amused him more. He’s so cute. “Mr. Pattinson is the hotel manager and I came here for the bookkeeper’s job at the hotel. He told me I’d be interviewed by Mr. Gilbert on the tenth floor. I came here looking for him and I saw this lady talking to one guy about his interview. I assumed she was talking about Mr. Gilbert’s interview, so I asked and she brought me here to see you.” Ha! What are the odds? “I’m really sorry for the confusion, Mr. Ross. I didn’t mean to bother you.”
Aidan waved his hand dismissively and smiled. “No bother at all!”
Rick shook his head, refusing to look Aidan in the eye. “I’m sure you’ve loads of errands to run. I’ll get out of your way.”
“Hey, wait!” Aidan called out as Rick was about to turn, the suddenness astounded him. Aidan chuckled. “Don’t you think it’s amazing?”
“That we meet again so soon.” Aidan replied with the excitement he felt within him. “I mean I’ve wanted to see you again so badly. I knew it was totally impossible for us to run into each other again. And yet, here you are. I still can’t believe it!”
Rick furrowed his brows. “Why did you want to see me again?” He asked.
“Because I like you.” He said without any hesitation.
“Yes, I love the way you look. You are a specimen of male beauty in its rarest form.” Aidan grinned.
Rick’s face flushed. “That’s enough.”
“Look, I’m an artist and I don’t want to see such beauty going unnoticed. I want to paint you. I want to put you on my canvas and show it to the world.” He realized he was leaning over the desk too much and sat up straightening the slim tie he wore. “So will you let me? Draw you?”
Rick stared. He still remained near the door as if he was about to bolt. “Mr. Ross,” he said in a hoarse voice, then cleared his throat and continued, “are you mocking me?”
“Mock-what? No!” Aidan jumped out of his seat and went to stand in front of Rick. “I don’t think I introduced myself to you properly. People hardly recognize me by my real name – Aidan Ross. My artist name is Adonis. You might have heard of it.” The proud smile on his face faltered when Rick shook his head with uncertainty. “Art by Adonis? It’s almost like a brand now.” Aidan tried but the head shook again. This is embarrassing. “Well, I’m supposed to be famous now anyway.”
“I’m sorry. It’s not you. I don’t follow any artists or their work.”
“You should and you should start with me.” He said, giving Rick a lopsided smile. “But the point is – I’ve been looking for a few models to inspire my next set of paintings. Ever since I saw you this morning, I couldn’t help brainstorm some ideas to feature you in my works. Because, you - Rick - are absolutely beautiful.”
“Um… I don’t think you’ve noticed but I am in a wheelchair.”
“I might have noticed that, yea.”
Rick sighed. “I’m not a model, Mr. Ross.”
“Great! Rookies are always the best to work with.”
His lips twitched but refrained from giving in to a smile. “It’s kind of you to offer, really. But I’d like to decline.” He turned his wheelchair around to leave.
However, Aidan couldn’t let him go. Fate had brought this man in front of him by accident twice – it must be a sign, right?
Aidan took him gently by the bicep and stopped him. “Why? Is it about the money? Because I intend to pay you for your time. I can pay you by the hour. I usually pay my models twenty bucks, I’ll pay you twenty five an hour.”
“Twenty-five?” His mouth fell.
“Alright – thirty. I’ll pay you thirty for an hour. Five hours each day for five days.”
Rick swallowed visibly. “But…”
Aidan decided not to let him say anything but a confirmed ‘yes’. “I’ll take care of your meals too. And if you prefer, I can arrange for your transport from home and back. You won’t have to worry about a thing.”
“And if you want, I…”
“Stop!” Rick spoke a little louder than his usual placid tone which shocked Aidan. No one had ever talked to him like that. Normally, it would really piss him off. Surprisingly, right now, it didn’t. “It’s a more than generous offer whatever you’ve agreed. Believe me, I wasn’t saying no because I wanted you to promise me more money for my time. Or offer me more perks. I won’t lie, I do need the money. But I won’t … I can’t let you waste your time and money on me because I don’t think I’m the right person to be your inspiration.”
Aidan stepped back and crossed his arms over his chest. “Do you see even a hint of doubt in my eyes when I say you may be the best inspiration I will ever find for my paintings?” Rick didn’t respond right away. Their eyes battled each other in a continuous stare and Aidan didn’t dare look away. After a few seconds passed, Rick shook his head. Aidan smiled. “Then trust me when I tell you that you will be worth every penny I invest in you.”
For the very first time since they met, Rick smiled genuinely. “Thank you.”
“I don’t want you to thank me for stating a fact,” Aidan said. “What I want is for you to say yes to my offer.”
Rick giggled. He actually giggled. Aidan liked the sound. “I don’t think you ever take no for an answer, do you?”
He nodded. “Nope, that’s me in a nutshell.”
There was a moment of silence between them when Rick seemingly considered the deal after which, he said with almost complete confidence, “I’ll do it.”
Aidan had never been to this part of the neighborhood. He’d heard of it, of course. But there was no one he’d known in his life who lived in downtown Los Angeles.
He’d parked his BMW in front of an old house and waited. It was the address Rick had texted him from his phone. Aidan couldn’t decide if he should go up to the door and knock or simply wait for him in the car. Finally, he settled on staying right there.
Aidan took his phone out and was about to text Rick, when a knock on the window startled him. Rick’s face smiled through it. Where the hell did he come from? Aidan hadn’t seen him coming out of the house. He quickly got out of the car and went around to meet him. “Hey,” he said, noticing how different Rick looked today. When they’d met the day before, he wore formal attire, probably for the interview he was having. This morning, however, he had on a t-shirt and a pair of torn jeans with a blue cap covering his silky blond hair.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to wear,” Rick said, looking uncomfortable under Aidan’s stare.
“Oh no, this is fine.” Aidan assured him and winked when he said, “You look totally hot!”
“Thanks,” Rick replied, turning what Aidan thought was an adorable shade of crimson.
“You’ll need help getting into the car, I guess?”
“Yea, sorry.” He fumbled with the wheelchair and looked up at Aidan helplessly.
Aidan’s comforting smile eased him slightly it seemed. “There’s no need to be sorry. It’s totally fine.” He could pick up Rick easily enough. The workouts at the gym are totally paying off, he thought and grinned to himself. As he settled Rick into the passenger seat, Aidan tried hard not to think of how close their faces were. He gazed at his lips. They looked delicious, tempting him for a hot smooch. Aidan wondered how they’d feel against his own.
When he looked up, Rick was staring back at him. Aidan could feel the heavy breaths on his skin. He bit the inside of his cheeks. You’ll freak him out, Aidan. Back off!
And he did just that.
“Yes, thank you.” He smiled shyly.
Aidan smiled back and turned on the car’s ignition. It was going to be a fairly long drive, so he thought to make just one stop at Starbucks. “Would you mind if I stopped to get my coffee?” He asked.
Rick shook his head politely. “When you told me yesterday you’d arrange for my pickup, I didn’t imagine you driving all the way over here to fetch me.”
That made Aidan laugh. “Oh yeah, one would think I must at least hire a chauffeur to drive me around the city, right?” Aidan rolled his eyes, remembering a similar conversation he’d had with his brother a few months back. “Believe me, I can definitely afford one. But it doesn’t mean I want one.”
He shrugged. “Because I love to drive. My cars are my babies. I can’t trust them in anyone else’s hands at all.”
Rick stared at him. “Cars? Do you mean you have another?”
“I’ve got two more actually.” He replied and went on to explain their features much as if he was doing a sales pitch for his cars.
When he stopped to get his coffee, he asked if Rick would like one too but he declined. The whole way from the Starbucks outlet to Aidan’s place, all he talked about was the cars he had owned and why he’d chosen each one. Rick silently listened but didn’t look bored at all. Aidan enjoyed having a person around who let him blabber unchecked while showing interest in whatever the hell he said.
“Wow!” was the first word Rick uttered when they entered the gated community where Aidan lived. Big, expensive houses were lined up one beside another. Rick’s blue eyes were wide open the entire time as Aidan parked the car in his garage and helped him out and back into the wheelchair. “You’ve got a really nice place.” He said, as Aidan let them both in.