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Leaving the hospital Avery had been ecstatic. The cool, crisp, November air kissed his face as he stepped outside and stood there, in the parking lot, eyes closed and his head tilted back he savored the feeling of freedom.
Rick had brought him a change of clothes and Avery was so glad to finally be free of the drafty hospital gown. He’d taken a shower but wasn’t able to really wash his hair all that good. It still hurt to move around and lifting his arms above his head was almost impossible. Still, he couldn’t go to meet his father like that so he had decided to make a quick pit stop at the salon.
Rick had gone with him of course. And although Boomer had offered to drive them, they decided to take a cab. Boomer and the others had already done so much for Rick and Avery that Avery didn’t want to burden them further.
The closest salon was a small, privately owned place, called Stylz by Dee. They catered to both men and women, as well as children. Avery had been there a few times and knew the owner pretty well. She and her daughter were the only hair stylists. They also employed one girl who did nails.
They didn’t get a lot of business and most of their customers were regulars who were fiercely loyal to Dee and her daughter, but they made enough to keep themselves in business. Avery liked them because they never looked at him funny or refused him service. He’d gotten his nails done there more than once and on occasion had his hair colored. Dee considered herself an artist and she welcomed any chance to really let her creative side out.
With Avery, that was almost always the case because he was one of her less conservative clients and always wanted something that stretched the line.
He had hoped that this time they could find some way to make his hair less messy and more like an actual hair style but at the same time manage to let his true personality show through. Both Dee and Krista, her daughter, were more than willing to take on the challenge.
When Avery had walked into the salon he did so with trepidation. He wasn’t sure if either of them had heard about what happened but he assumed they’d probably read about it in the paper. What he didn’t want were looks of pity or special treatment. He was just one of their clients and expected to be treated as such.
Dee had looked up as Avery walked to the desk. She greeted him with a huge smile, dropped what she was doing and walked over to the desk so that she could check him in. He was thankful that there were no other customers waiting, only one lady under the dryer, so he could be seen right away. Krista had come out of the back room carrying a broom and a dust pan.
“Hey Avery!” She squealed when she saw him. “How you doing honey?”
Avery smiled back and told her that he was doing pretty good. Krista was in her thirties, a little over weight but still pretty. She had wavy light brown hair that she always kept swept up on the top of her head and secured with any number of colored scrunchies. She also liked to wear multicolored press on nails and bright, flamboyant clothes. Avery smirked when he saw her. Krista was a self proclaimed “fag hag” and sometimes a little overly friendly to the gay community as if she were trying to make a point of saying “Hey, I’m for gay rights!”
Dee was less conspicuous. She had blondish grey hair that was cut into a short page boy. She wore large, thick, light pink framed glasses-sometimes hanging around her neck by a chain. She wasn’t as heavy set as her daughter but she was large busted which made her look heavier. She dressed casually, usually in jeans and a nice shirt that was almost almost hidden behind a black apron. Her nails were long and painted deep, dark red that perfectly matched her blood red lips.
Dee was also a little eccentric, but Avery liked that about her. He’d never really met anyone who possessed any measure of creativity that wasn’t a little out of the norm. He supposed there was just something about artists, no matter what the medium, that made them different from others. Creative people were just wired different. It wasn’t a bad thing though, actually it kept the world from being drab and boring.
“What can we do for you today?” Dee had asked him.
Avery pointed to his hair. “I need this cleaned up some.” He told her. “I figured a wash and a trim. Even it out a bit.” He explained in further detail what he was looking for and Dee nodded, smiling in her usual charming and upbeat way. She ushered him over one of the sinks and he sat down. A moment later, Krista was at his side, covering him with a black, plastic salon cape. Krista slid her hands through Avery’s mangled locks and gave him a sweet, yet sympathetic smile.
“Sure do have a lot of blood left in your hair.” She said.
Her mother coughed and gave her a stern look as she shook her head disapprovingly, letting Krista know that her comment was insensitive and unprofessional.
Avery had shrugged it off. He’d expected that kind of reaction and so it didn’t really isveçbahis yeni giriş phase him. “I haven’t had my hair washed yet.” He simply told her and left it at that.
Thirty minutes later Avery’s hair had been washed and evened out. It actually looked better than he’d thought it would but he still missed his long hair. Rick smiled when he saw him.
“You look so emo.” He joked.
Avery grinned and flipped him the bird.
When Avery went to pay, Dee refused to accept his money. “It’s on the house.” She told him. “You’re such a good customer and I’m thankful for your business. Besides that, it makes me feel good to know that we can help bring that lovely smile back to your face.” She winked at him.
“Thank you.” Avery told her, blushing some. “It means a lot.”
It felt so good to be out and doing normal things again. The trip to the salon was Avery’s first official act in reclaiming his life. Seeing his father had been the second. Things were all coming back together, the scars would soon fade, and he would be alright again. He knew that in his heart. With Rick by his side, Avery felt as if he could do anything. So why did he find it so difficult now, standing at the threshold of his apartment doorway, to walk through that door?
Rick put a hand on Avery’s shoulder and looked at him. “You okay babe?”
Avery nodded slowly. “I just need a moment.” He whispered.
“Take as long as you need.” Rick squeezed his hand reassuringly.
“Thanks.” Avery looked into the dark room before him. It was so still, so quiet. It was almost hard for him to believe that anything bad had happened there a week earlier. The living room was straightened up. He couldn’t remember if anything had even been out of place to begin with but he assumed that after he’d blacked out Mikey would have knocked furniture over or at least moved it out of the way trying to drag Avery’s seemingly lifeless body through the room to the front door.
The biggest mess though would be in the kitchen and hallway. Avery could remember in detail the beating he’d taken in that room. How he’d tried to crawl into the hall and escape the assault only to have it continue there, just outside the kitchen doorway. His heart leapt into his throat as the fear he’d felt came sneaking back up on him. What did he have to be afraid of though? Mikey was in jail. The other two were as good as gone, probably skipped town to avoid being picked up. He was in no immediate danger yet there was still something holding him back.
“This is my home.” Avery thought. “I can’t be scared of my own home. I have to just suck it up and go inside.” The silent room loomed before him and for a slit second a wave of dizziness washed over him.
“I can’t do this.” He whispered, tears welling up in his eyes.
“What’s wrong baby? Talk to me.” Rick was concerned now. Avery looked terrified, he was shaking and close to tears. “Do you want to leave?” He asked him. “We can go to a hotel for the night.”
Avery nodded. “Yeah, lets do that. I just can’t…I can’t go in there yet.”
“That’s fine baby.” Rick led Avery to a plastic chair against the wall and sat him down. “Let me go in and pack a few things for the night and I’ll be right back.”
“Hurry.” Avery said. “I don’t want to be alone out here for too long.”
“I’ll be quick.” Rick kissed him on the mouth then hurried into the apartment.
Rick called Trash once he was inside and asked him if he could give he and Avery a ride. Trash agreed and he and Kat arrived at Avery and Rick’s place in less than fifteen minutes. Avery sat in back, and Rick slide in beside him.
“Thanks man.” Rick said. “We appreciate this.”
“Hey no problem, dude.”
Kat looked back at Avery and smiled sweetly. “How you feeling today?” She asked.
He shrugged. “I’m okay I guess. I’m just not ready to go back inside that place yet.”
“Oh I totally understand.” She told him. “I don’t blame you one bit. By the way, how was your meeting with your dad?”
“It was okay.” He said again. Avery propped his arm up on the door frame and rested his head in his hand as he looked out the window.
Kat looked at Trash and Trash shrugged. “I’m glad everything went well.” She told Avery.
“Thanks.” He mumbled.
Kat turned around in her seat as Trash pulled out onto the road. It was obvious to her that Avery wasn’t in the mood for conversation.
Rick put his hand on Avery’s knee and squeezed it lightly. He hated seeing Avery in such a funk but he didn’t really know what to do to brighten his mood. He just hoped that once they got to the hotel Avery would feel somewhat better and be able to relax more.
Trash asked Rick where he wanted to go. “What ever is the cheapest.” He told him as he pulled out his wallet and looked to see how much cash he had on him.
“Rosewood Inn.” Avery spoke up.
Rick looked at him. “Babe I can’t…”
“I’ll send the bill to my father.” Avery said quickly. isveçbahis giriş “It’s alright. He already offered to put us up in a hotel if I didn’t want to go back to the apartment right away. I didn’t want to take him up on the offer at the time, I thought it would be okay going home but now, if it’s just for a night or two I think I’ll be okay to go back. I just need some time.”
Rick nodded. “Yeah it’s fine if he offered.”
Avery turned back to the window, silently watching the road speed past the tires of the car.
When they reached the hotel Avery got out first and went inside to check them in. Rick went around to the trunk to get their bags. Kat walked up to him and gently touched him on the shoulder. Rick turned to look at her.
“Is everything cleaned up?” She asked him. “Back at the apartment I mean.”
“Yeah it is.” Rick told her as he swung a duffel bag over his shoulder. “Hanson had a cleaning crew come in. They did a really good job. Avery didn’t make it that far though, he wouldn’t even walk through the front door.”
“Well, give him some time, like he said.” Trash came up beside Kat. “It’s probably not easy for him to go back after what happened. Maybe if you talk to the manager and see about changing the locks and stuff he’ll feel a little better.”
“Yeah, I can do that.” Rick agreed. “Not that he ever uses the lock.”
Kat looked at Rick sadly. “I think now he may start.”
Rick nodded slowly and looked at the ground. “Yeah, I think you may be right about that.”
Rick slid the key card into the reader and the door popped open instantly. He pushed the door the rest of the way open and stood to the side, allowing Avery to enter first. He slung the bag over his shoulder again, then picked up Avery’s night bag, and followed in after him.
Avery walked into the outer room and looked around. There was a fairly large flat screen sitting on a TV stand in front of a coffee table and couch. A smaller arm chair set against the wall next to door and across from it was a desk with a pad of paper and a pen neatly placed in the center. A welcome basket was on the coffee table, along with a list of channels and a menu for room service.
Rick had no intention of ordering room service but to his surprise, Avery picked up the menu and then walked into the second room with it and plopped himself down on the queen sized bed. Rick sat the bags down and walked into the second room, joining Avery on the bed. He watched as Avery scanned the menu.
“Ohhh…champagne.” He grinned at Rick. “Should we?”
Rick shrugged. “I don’t know. Will your dad get mad if we order food and stuff?”
Avery laughed a bit.” I don’t know, he might. He’ll get over it anyway.” He reached over and picked up the phone. “Anything else you want?”
Rick shook his head and smiled. “Whatever you want to order babe. I’m happy with anything.”
“Okay.” Avery sat Indian style as he dialed the number and then began giving his order to room service. He seemed totally in his element, as if he did this sort of thing all the time. Rick realized suddenly that this was the life Avery was actually used to. Fancy hotels, room service, people waiting on him hand and foot. He was comfortable with it because he grew up with it.
Rick leaned back on the bed and watched him. He loved Avery so much, but he was starting to wonder if he was really good enough for him. Rick didn’t come from money. He was a poor orphan without a cent to his name and Avery’s parents were loaded. How could he ever compete with that?
Avery hung up the phone then turned to Rick and smiled. “You’ll have to sign for the champagne when they bring it.” He told him. “I’m not twenty-one yet.”
“That’s fine.” Rick smiled back. Rick wanted to be happy, excited even. He and Avery were finally alone again. He could lay beside him and hold him in his arms all night if he wanted. Avery even seemed to be receptive to Rick’s affections which was another thing that had worried Rick. He wasn’t sure if Avery would ever be able to stomach being touched by a man again but that didn’t seem to bother him. At least not when it was Rick doing the touching.
Still though, Rick was suddenly overwhelmed with this profound sadness. Now that he had actually seen the type of life that Avery was once accustomed to, Rick was seriously questioning whether or not he measured up.
Avery slid across the bed closer to Rick. “Everything alright?” He asked.
Rick looked up at him as he was snapped back to reality and out of his thoughts. “Huh? Oh, yeah baby, everything’s fine.” He lied, not knowing if Avery believed him or not.
“You’re sure?” Avery asked him. “You know you can talk to me about anything.”
Rick nodded then smiled reassuringly at Avery. “Babe, I’m sure, everything is perfect. I’m here with you. What else could I ask for?”
Avery blushed some then leaned over and kissed rick on the lips. Not a quick peck, but a long, deep, passionate kiss. “Everything is perfect.” isveçbahis güvenilirmi Avery cooed in Rick’s ear. “We’re together and I couldn’t be happier.”
Rick wrapped his arms around Avery and pulled him close. ” I am so in love with you.” Rick looked into Avery’s eyes and Avery knew that Rick was sincere, but he also saw something in his eyes that worried him a bit. Rick seemed distressed. He had tears in his eyes which made Avery’s heart want to break. He suddenly wondered if there was something that he’d done wrong.
Avery took his finger and wiped at Rick’s eye and then kissed his face. “Why are you crying?” He asked.
Rick sighed. He held Avery against him. “I just don’t want to lose you.” He told him.
Avery laid his head on Rick’s chest. “You won’t. Not ever. I love you more than anything Rick. You and I are going to be together forever. No one can keep us apart. You should know that by now. Not Mike, not anyone. No matter what happens, I’ll always come back to you. You and I are one of one heart, one soul, one life. Losing each other just isn’t an option.”
Rick slid his fingers through Avery’s hair and kissed him again. “Definitely not an option.” He whispered.
Avery turned the bottle upside down and shook it. He snickered as he watched Rick grin. “I think we killed it.” Avery giggled.
Rick took the bottle from him and set it aside. “I think I should have stopped you three glasses ago.”
“Pfft.” Avery stretched out across the middle of the bed. “I never had champagne before. Not even at my sisters wedding. I wanted to but my dad made me drink gengerale.”
“Gengerale?” Rick laughed. “Is that anything like ginger ale?”
“That’s what I said.” Avery burped then covered his mouth and giggled again. “Gengerale.”
Rick shook his head and smirked. “You, my dear, are drunk.”
“I’m not drunk!” Avery snorted. “I think I may be a little buzzed though.”
“I think you’re a lot buzzed.”
Rick was sitting with his back against the head board, one leg folded under the other and the other stretched out in front of him. Avery scooted closer, laying his head in Rick’s lap where Rick lovingly began to stroke his hair. He looked down at Avery and smiled. “Even as a drunk you’re adorable.”
Avery blushed. “Do you really love me?” He asked suddenly.
“Of course I do.” Rick told him. “You know that I do.”
“Don’t you miss women?”
Rick shrugged. “I guess sometimes, if I’m being honest. I do still like women but I’m not about to go out and screw one, not when I have you. You’re all I need. I don’t even look at anyone else anymore. You’re my world now.”
“Sometimes I get worried that you’re going to get sick of me and leave.”
“Never going to happen.” Rick told him. “You only find a love like this once in a life time and I’m not about to throw that all away. I imagine that we’ll have moments where we may get sick of each other from time to time. We’ll fight, all couples do, but it doesn’t mean that I’d want to break up. I’m in this for the long haul. I hope you feel the same way.”
Avery nodded. “I do. I don’t know exactly when I realized that I loved you but when I did realize it, it hit me like…whoosh! I couldn’t think of anyone or anything else. It’s like something snapped in me and I knew that we were meant to be together. Like we were soul mates or something.”
Rick grinned. “That’s a good analogy, I like that. That’s how I felt it too. Whoosh…and I knew I’d fallen hard.”
Avery frowned. “Are you making fun of me?”
“Of course not.” Rick snickered. “Whoosh…that’s a great analogy.”
Avery laughed and slapped Rick’s leg playfully. “You’re such a dick.”
“Takes one to know one.” Rick winked.
Avery rolled over on to his side and stared up at Rick. “I feel awesome.” He said. “Better than I have in days.”
“Yeah, that’s because you’re drunk.” Rick laughed again.
“No, it’s because I’m in love.” He pushed himself up to his knees then leaned in and pressed his lips against Rick’s. Rick wrapped his arms around Avery’s waist and kissed him.
Avery put his arms across Rick’s shoulders and closed his eyes. He opened his mouth to the kiss and invited Rick’s tongue in. Rick kissed him deeper and with more passion and Avery pressed himself against Rick’s body even harder until Rick suddenly felt his entire body come alive. He pulled his lips away and sighed. “We better stop now or I won’t be able to later.”
“Why would you want to stop?” Avery asked him in a low, sexy voice.
“Because you’re not totally recovered yet and I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You won’t.” Avery promised as he leaned in to kiss Rick again. Rick pulled back and touched his finger to Avery’s lips.
“Just calm down there baby boy.” He laughed. “I think you’re getting ahead of yourself.”
Avery sat back and stared at him, confused. “Don’t you want me?” He asked.
“Of course I do.” Rick blinked. He didn’t want to hurt Avery’s feelings but he also didn’t want him to feel pressured into doing anything that he wasn’t ready for. “I want you more than anything.” Rick assured him. “I just want you to make sure that it’s something you really want to do.”
“Oh, I really want to do it.” Avery told him as he attempted to kiss him again.
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