Art for Heart's Sake


James was finally satisfied that he could do no more to make Ryan safe and comfortable. He kissed the full, pouty lips and stroked the now slightly-stubbled cheek. Pulling a notepad from his pocket, he jotted down his name and phone number and added a message. He and Tim then padded as quietly as possible from the flat and house. Once inside the cab James sat behind Tim.

"He's so beautiful," James sighed.

Tim grinned. He was as straight as they came and still playing the field, in no rush to settle down. He had known James was gay since he was a ten-year-old, some eighteen years now. The seven-years between them almost as good as a generation gap until Tim had been forced to mature. In all that time, Tim had never known his brother have a one-night stand. Two years had passed since James' last serious relationship, the two men parting when they realised they wanted different things. Although amicable, it had still left the older, more cautious man reluctant to actively seek a new partner. Tim had been pleased when James had started talking about the beautiful young man at 'Tony's Cafe'. His grin widened. Ryan was nothing like any of the previous men in James' life. He hoped the difference would prove to be the key for a successful relationship. He had to admit to himself, the kid was stunning - for a guy.


Ryan awoke groggily, as he always did after a really late night. He tried to piece together what had happened after accepting a drink from James. He had known at the time he was getting overly tired, but had *so* wanted to spend more time with the older man. He knew it had to have been around 4.00 a.m. by the time he had got to bed. He groaned as he saw his work jeans neatly folded. He lifted the covers, peering at his boxers, and wished he could stay buried under them. //If I'd known a tall, dark, handsome stranger was going to get a peek at my underwear, I would so *not* have worn ones decorated with Scooby Doo// Ryan berated himself. Throwing the covers aside his eyes lit on the note and he read it avidly.

'Hey, babe. I hope you slept well. I'm free all day, ring me when you wake. Maybe we can do something tonight. J'

Ryan hugged the note to his chest. //Yes, yes, yes// he chanted mentally. He glanced quickly at his watch. He still had a couple of hours. He retrieved his cellphone from his jeans and dialled the number eagerly.

"Hello?" James' deep, rounded tones caressed Ryan's ear and the younger man suppressed a whimper.

"Hi, it's Ryan," he managed, huskily.

"Hey, babe," James' voice instantly became more intimate and softer and, if possible, more sexy.

"Um, you said, about meeting me?" Ryan said and fought back the groan of frustration at the way his words were coming out disjointed.

"I can be there in twenty," James said, a note of eagerness in his voice. "I'm on my way."

"Cool," Ryan said, wanting to see the older man. For a moment or two, he sat, cradling the cellphone, and then reality struck. //James. Coming here. On his way now. Now!!// There was little Ryan could do about the flat. He kept it tidy and clean out of necessity. He stood quickly, groaning as muscles protested after being in the same position for too long. He folded the futon back into sofa form, his bedding becoming cushions and throws once more. He rushed into the bathroom and took a quick shower, keeping the water purposely cool to help revive him. From a tiny built-in closet and the chest of drawers Ryan selected clean underwear, jeans and a pale-blue, soft cotton shirt. Returning to the bathroom, he tended his hair, shaved and thoroughly brushed his teeth before dissolving into a fit of giggles. He had not been this worried about a date even as a teenager. He eyed himself critically. //I hope James likes what he sees// he thought. With a self-depreciating shrug, he trotted to get dressed.


James reached Ryan's house and pressed the entry pad. He was halfway up the stairs before the buzzer to open the outer door had lapsed into silence. At the top, he took a few calming breaths before knocking coolly at Ryan's door. The vision that opened the door to him took his breath away more effectively than the run up the stairs. Rich, abundant hair cascaded past Ryan's shoulders, light from behind the younger man turning it into a burnished nimbus. The oceanic depths glowed with affection and pleasure, the colour of the shirt accenting them perfectly. The full lips were drawn back in a smile of welcome. The black jeans, like the shirt, fitted the lithe body to perfection. James' sharp eyes caught sight of something extra under the shirt, something he very much wanted to explore with teeth and tongue. As he looked back up into Ryan's face, he smiled at the blush as he all but drooled at the delectable young man.

"You look beautiful, babe," he husked. James was nothing if not honest.

"Have you looked in a mirror today, man?" Ryan retorted. James had squeezed his lower half in a pair of jeans that showed off long legs and an enticing package that Ryan really wanted to open. The plain white t-shirt on the top half displayed well-defined muscles. To Ryan's eyes, James was the very personification of raw, powerful masculinity.

"No contest, babe," James assured, as he stepped into the hallway. He kicked the door shut behind him as he reached to stroke Ryan's smooth cheek. They each moved closer. As if in slow motion, Ryan's head tilted back as James moved down. The first tentative kiss was gentle, sweet, and almost chaste. The second was anything but; hard, wet and demanding, the two men almost devoured each other as their hands reached to touch and then hold tight.

Unconsciously the couple moved to the living room, barely aware of their movements and their lips parting, only for brief seconds, to allow precious air into their heaving lungs. James guided Ryan to the futon, sitting and pulling the smaller man onto his lap as they continued to kiss. James knew he was good at this. He explored Ryan's warm, wet cavern. His tongue slid over satiny inner cheeks, strong, even teeth and danced languidly with Ryan's slick muscle before teasing it into his own mouth. As Ryan's tongue began its own travels, James was slowly unbuttoning the shirt to find and play with the ring in Ryan's left nipple. Muted moans and erotic rocking told him his touches were welcome. The sounds and movements both went to his already throbbing groin. He abandoned the taut teat to palm the enticing bulge tenting his lover's jeans.

"Oh, James, yes, please, yes," Ryan whimpered into the bigger man's ear, hitching his hips, trying to push into the large, knowledgeable hand. "I don't normally ... I'm not ..." Ryan's words were panted disjointedly as his arousal spiralled out of his tenuous control.

"Am I going too fast, babe?" James asked anxiously. He wanted Ryan, but expertise in his work meant he was well aware of body language as well as possessing the information Cam had supplied about Ryan. He knew the younger man was not promiscuous. The thought his touches were undoing the auburn beauty inflamed his own passion to the edge of his ability to remain in command of his body.

"You make me feel so good," Ryan whimpered.

"Gonna make you feel real good, baby, so much more," James promised. With a small movement, he manoeuvred Ryan to begin nursing at the pierced breast. He flicked the ring back and forth with his tongue or stabbed his agile muscle through and then tugged at it with his teeth to a steady litany of pleas and moans and rhythmic rocking of slender hips. As his mouth pleasured his lover, James unsnapped and unzipped Ryan's jeans, teasing at the opulent fur he found. His lover's hips were thrusting desperately now and the younger man was reduced to keening as James' mouth possessed his. The older man reached inside dampened briefs to release his prize and stroked his lover's solid shaft. It took just a couple of tugs and Ryan shuddered helplessly in James' arms with the intensity of his release, his crème decorating his furred abdomen and chest as well as James' hand. The older man watched his lover before sliding Ryan's boneless body from his lap and, almost tearing his own jeans open, knelt over the sated form to pump his hard flesh just a couple of times before his cream joined his lover's.

James flopped back on the futon and pulled Ryan into his arms. This time the kisses were soft and sweet, the older man wanting to show that he felt more than simple lust for Ryan. They caressed each other gently, the tender touches conveying more succinctly what might have been difficult to put into words. Slowly, James eased Ryan to lie down and began a slow, desultory sweep over the sweat-sheened flesh with his tongue. He lapped up each drop of their individual or combined seed, occasionally giving Ryan scorching, cerulean glances as he cleansed the smaller body.

"Oh yeah, that's so good, oh, man, what you do to me," Ryan babbled as James' tongue slid sinuously over his sensitised skin. The sight of the big man crouched over his groin and the sinful sensations from the talented tongue had Ryan's shaft twitching its preparation for another round of loving. James covered the still languid body with his and they began once more to indulge in deep, fulfilling, toe-curling kisses.

A soft, insistent beeping finally made them break apart.

"Oh, man, I am *so* sorry, but I have an art class," Ryan apologised breathlessly. "It'll take me an hour to get there by bus, so I have to leave in plenty of time."

"No car?" James checked, gazing at the desire-darkened eyes and kiss-swollen lips.

"Can't afford the running cost of one: insurance is *way* too high because of my age and this area. He gave a wry smile. It's cheap to live in, but expensive in other ways."

James reluctantly moved to stand and began to tuck himself away, catching the lusty look from Ryan's eyes. As the smaller man stood, his stomach growled discontentedly and James grinned at the crimson blush.

"Want me to get you breakfast whilst you clean up?" he offered. His look became one of concern as Ryan dropped his head and gave a short shake of sexy, bed-mussed, red-gold tresses.

"Ran out of cereal yesterday," Ryan explained. "Tony pays me tonight," he shrugged, aiming for casual indifference. "I can pick up a couple of things after the class."

James was already reaching for his cellphone as he watched his lover disappear to the bathroom. He was stunned to find how hand-to-mouth Ryan was living and was further worried about the younger man working at the burger joint.

"Bathroom's all yours, man," Ryan smiled, as he re-entered the room.

James cleansed himself and came back to find Ryan had thoughtfully made two coffees.

"The milk is ok," Ryan assured. "I can take mine black."

"Black's fine for me, babe," James assured. "So what about this art class?" he asked curiously.

"It's a private tutorial," Ryan said, sipping at the strong, bitter brew.

"You can barely afford to eat and you spend money on art classes?" James asked incredulously.

"I *teach* art, man" Ryan smiled. "Come with me." He reached out a hand and led the bigger man to the door at the end of the hallway. He pulled out a key from his jeans pocket and opened the door. There was a small flight of stairs to ascend and then Ryan gave a grin at the stunned gasp.

James emerged into a huge studio. One wall and most of the roof were glass allowing an incredible amount of light into the spacious area. It held easels, canvasses, paints, sheets and, at the far wall, even a small kiln.

"I had to sacrifice living space for working space," Ryan shrugged. "I sometimes sleep up here," he added, indicating a mattress and folded bedding. It needs to be a warm night or me exhausted though," he added smiling.

James was wondering around, looking at some of the completed work. He could see just how talented an artist Ryan was.

"I have a couple of private classes and teach a night school class in season, too. I also have a gallery willing to do sale or return. Unfortunately things have been slow. Tony was a life-saver when I was at Uni and he's helping me out now. I get the same for the late shift of four hours as his day shift man gets for eight, but that's between me and him," Ryan added. "I helped his son Raphael in Uni and Tony's never forgotten. I had hoped to be able to quit again after tonight. The gallery has sold a couple of things and want some more and I'll get paid for my classes. Plus Tony's regular cook will be fit and well to work the weekend."

"I'd like to see your work properly," James said, a finger tracing a sheet-covered figure.

"I'd *so* like to show you my etchings, man," Ryan laughed, waggling his eyebrows in an attempted leer. He joined in James' laughter.

A beep from the older man's phone had him trotting downstairs, a bemused Ryan in his wake. The smaller man watched as James admitted Tim who carried a large brown bag.

"Hey, kid," Tim hailed the younger man. "Honey and bran muffin, fruit muffin and orange juice. Tuck in."

"James," Ryan said, turning wide oceanic eyes on his lover. "I don't have time. My class ..."

"My cab is at your disposal," Tim said, pushing the bag into Ryan's hands. "Take you there, bring you home," he added, sketching a sweeping bow.

"I can't ..." Ryan demurred, but his treacherous hand was already reaching for the delicious-smelling food.

"You can and you will," Tim said decisively. He glanced at his brother. "So where are you guys off to tonight? You need a chauffeur?"

"Ryan's working," James said tightly. "I'll be picking him up at...?" James looked over at his lover.

"2 a.m." Ryan supplied as he swallowed a bite of muffin. "I'll be doing 10 to 2."

"From there to 'The Club'?" Tim asked and received a curt nod from his brother. Tim resisted the urge to grin. A part of him was amused at how quickly James had become protective of the attractive young man. Another was concerned, in his own way, at Ryan being in the cafe. Tim knew the type that had made their presence felt the previous evening. They were likely to make another appearance to unnerve Ryan, even if they did not try anything further.

"No work tomorrow?" Tim heard James ask Ryan and he looked over at the smaller man who was finishing the fresh orange.

"Nope. Free *all* day," Ryan smiled and then sighed, replete. He had devoured both muffins. "Well, apart from upstairs," he added. He needed to finish a couple of pieces for the gallery.

"I know a really good Italian restaurant," James said. "Come out with me, my treat," he added seeing the younger man clearly calculating his available funds. "All I need from you is the pleasure of your company. Please, babe." He turned as piteous a gaze as he was capable of at the younger man who snickered lovingly.

"Ok, ok, man" he laughed. "But next time you come here with some beer or wine and I'll cook. Deal?" Then he giggled out loud as James picked him up and kissed the tip of his nose.

"Get a room, guys," Tim laughed, glad his brother was so relaxed. "C'mon, kid, let's grab whatever you need and we'll get going," he added.

"Back in five, man," Ryan said, scurrying towards the door to his studio.

"He's a keeper, bro," Tim said, unable to keep the affection from his tone.

"And I intend to keep him," James said resolutely.


Ryan was touched that Tim and James turned up with the taxi to take him to work that night. At just after midnight, Tony turned up to pay Ryan and remove the money for banking. James had stayed and made sure he told the owner of Ryan's close escape. He smirked at the telling-off the younger man received from the Italian who was clearly very fond of him. A call from Tony had a couple of family members coming to nonchalantly drink coffee until closing. The look James got from Ryan in retaliation was angry and sultry in equal proportions and James found himself hardening at the implied retribution the deep-blue eyes promised. At the end of Ryan's shift, Tim arrived to ferry them both to 'The Club'. Neither of the older men let Ryan know that Tim had cruised the area, nor that Tim had spotted Lank-hair and a couple of his associates checking out the cafe.

In James' office, pizza and beer were already waiting and Ryan and James spent equal amounts of time eating, drinking, chatting and touching.

"Would you ..." Ryan began and then needed to clear his throat. Taking a deep breath, the younger man tried again. "Wouldyouliketospendthenightwithme?" he asked without breath, certain James would refuse.

"I'd love to, babe," James said huskily. "Let me get a bag." He pulled open the largest drawer in his desk and removed an overnight bag. "I've been known to end up sleeping here on a really late one," he explained. "There's everything I need in here to begin afresh. You ready to go now?"

"Oh yeah," Ryan rasped.

At Ryan's flat, the younger man opened out the futon and the two men stretched out kissing and caressing. Their shirts effortlessly vanished leaving Ryan to transverse the smooth plains of James' well-defined pectorals, the ridges of a toned six-pack and explore pink nubs haloed by dusky-rose areolae. In his turn, James worshipped with mouth and fingers at the cinnamon nipples that shyly hid amongst a rich thicket of chest fur. As Ryan lay back, spreading his legs in welcome, James took his place between his lover's thighs, continuing his loving assault on the smaller man's sensitive nipples.

Their actions became quicker, more urgent and pants and briefs were rapidly removed and their bodies began a slow sensuously slide against each other. James expressing his appreciation at the way Ryan's body hair felt against his skin and the younger man relished the sensation of his lover's smoothness. Panting softly, Ryan pressed an unopened tube of lube into James' hand, watching as the older man's eyes darkened further. He had not intended to go so far that night, but his body thrummed with the desire to have James inside him.

James slicked up a single finger and reached between Ryan's spread cheeks to circle and then penetrate the tiny opening. He gave a small frown as his finger felt as though it was being crushed in searing heat.

"God you're tight, babe," he growled. "Been a while?"

"You ... you could say that," Ryan panted, trying to make his body relax to accept the wanted intruder. He had been penetrated by fingers before, but this time, excitement and anticipation were tensing him. He took a deep breath as James pressed a second digit inside, curling them. Ryan jerked and wailed as his prostate was rubbed. Mindlessly he tried to bear down on James' fingers to get more of the electrifying sensations. He was so focused on the pleasure he could barely hear, much less comprehend, what James was saying. //Condoms? What?// Ryan tried to think and answer as he writhed. He gave a cry of denial as James withdrew his fingers.

"Condoms, where are they?" James asked again.

"I don't ... I've never ..." Ryan began, his mind clearing from the lust-induced haze, but was cut short by a furious bellow from his lover.

"You mean you've risked your health, your life?" James roared. His anger was mixed with fear for what might have happened to the younger man who was already so important to him. The slap on his cheek not only stopped his imminent tirade, but flung him off the now furiously angry smaller man.

"What kind of slut do you think I am?" he shouted, tears falling down his cheeks. "Get out. Get out and stay the hell away from me."

The slamming of the bathroom door brought James out of his stunned state. His cheek blazed and throbbed and, in his stomach, a cold emptiness was gnawing at him. He had said something very, very wrong and did not know what to do to put it right. His mind seemed unable to come to grips with the development. Pulling on his boxers, he reached for his cellphone. Then he sat, hunched miserably, and waited.

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