“Caretaker wanted for young wheelchair user. This is a live-in position with a monthly salary. Availability is the key, though days-off and working hours would be arranged.
For all sorts of assistance, from driving the car for shopping, going out, preparing food, helping with doctors appointments etc.
Have a drivers license
A sense of fun
A room in a beautiful house by the beach, board, friendly atmosphere, competitive pay. This is a permanent position for the right candidate.
Experience preferred but not necessary as we are looking for the right fit, not a nurse. The client’s disability allows him to take care of the most personal needs on his own.”
Liam looked up at a young man who sat across the corridor from him in an old, wooden chair, which creaked every time he moved. The guy could have been good looking if his skin wasn’t peeking through at the top of his head. Liam loved his own hair long, but he made his brother swear he would make him shave it off if balding struck him. He’d rather look like a skinhead than a senior cashier at Taco Bell.
Not that it would help him. Liam’s life was a disaster. Here he was, penniless, homeless and jobless, after three nights in his car, he was desperate for a job. Any job. Being fussy wasn’t an option anymore.
“The wait is a killer, right?” the man asked, probably just too bored to sit around without a word. There were at least ten other candidates who have already been interviewed, and Liam was getting increasingly anxious.
“Yeah…” God, he would kill for a cigarette. It’s been over an hour and it wasn’t like he called to announce himself beforehand. He hoped his natural charm would do the trick, but his initial confidence was melting at an alarming pace. All the guys who came for the interview had previous experience and at least two of them did nursing school. How could he even compete with that? Maybe it would be best to spare himself the humiliation and waste time somewhere else.
“I think it could be fun to live here though,” the man continued. “Who knows what goes on here, if the place is called ‘The Lust Pit’, right?” He chuckled, moving around in his seat.
Liam shifted in the old chair too. This particular corridor didn’t live up to the name. With peach-colored walls, a gray carpet and a framed print of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers hanging over one of the empty chairs, it didn’t fit into an old, Addams Family style house. Like the other candidates, he entered the hotel building through the back door, so this had to be the office section, not accessible to paying guests, but Liam still considered it a waste for a place like this to lose some of its original charm. “More like ‘Boring Pit’,” he grumbled. God, how he needed a cigarette!
“Liam Novitz…ky…” The woman who peeked out of the office door struggled with his name as she read it out of a clipboard. She didn’t look like much like a secretary. More like a retired porn star, dressed in what she thought a secretary would wear, which would be a white shirt that showed some of her bra, tucked into a tight, leather pencil skirt and crazy-high heels.
“That’s me.” He shot to his feet, his trademark grin in place as he strolled towards her without even a glance at the guy, who tried to draw him into the uncomfortable conversation.
“Mr. Richards will see you now.” Her expression was as serious as if Liam was applying to be a lawyer. Up close, he noticed that the frames of her black-rimmed glasses were empty. Wow, maybe he really entered a porn shoot without even noticing.
“Cool.” He adjusted the collar of his fitted shirt, hoping the skull on his chest pocket wouldn’t work as a disadvantage, he didn’t get to do his laundry on time. With living in his car and all.
Putting all worries aside, Liam knocked on the door that held an ‘Office’ sign and went in without waiting for a response.
The man, or… boy (he wasn’t really sure yet) behind the desk was not what he expected a disabled person to look like. First of all, he had blue hair. Or was it green? All shades of those colors. Quite long, but not as long as Liam’s, they hardly reached his shoulders. One side of his head was shaved, with only a long streak left by his ear. He looked up at Liam with bright blue eyes, framed by black eyeshadow.
“Hi Liam, I’m Ryan.” He reached out his hand over the desk, but Liam’s focus drifted off for a moment to the fire and smoke tattoos covering the man’s slim arms. ‘Man’s’, because Ryan’s voice was definitely past puberty. Liam’s hypothetical employer wore a black tank top with a crying Care Bear, so he was relieved he didn’t try to rent a suit for this interview after all. His grin widened and even his chest felt lighter. For a brief moment, he even forgot about the need to go for a smoke. Ryan’s voice had this sort of boyish, grumbly overtone Liam always considered adorable. He hardly even noticed the guy was indeed in a wheelchair.
“Hi, thanks for having me.” He bowed over the desk to shake the other man’s hand. “Cool shirt by the way.”
“Thanks.” Ryan snorted. “But flattery won’t get you the job. Why don’t you sit down.” He pointed to the armchair in front of the desk, another piece of furniture that creaked with age. He put his elbows on the desk and eyed Liam up with unashamed curiosity. “So I’ve got your resume here.” He pointed to the piece of paper in front of him. “What can you tell me about yourself?”
When Liam focused on the pretty face in front of him again, he noticed at least half a dozen piercings on Ryan’s face. In the lips, nose and there were even little balls in the middle of his cheeks. And a mass of metal rings and studs in his ears.
“Hey, I’ve toned down today.” Liam laughed off the flattery comment and rested his ankle on his knee, trying not to let his thoughts drift. Wheelchair or not, the guy was kinda hot, in the I‘m-cute-but-don’t-tell-anyone kinda way. “I’m from Ohio, came over to California some ten years ago and I’ve been working as a cook since then. Anything else you wanna know?”
“Why did you apply for the job if you’re a cook?” Ryan scratched his temple, looking back into Liam’s resume. When he moved his lip ring with his teeth, Liam couldn’t take his eyes off. That was hot.
“Well, I got tired of the pace and all that shit that goes on there. Twelve hours of constant pressure.” Liam was lying. Actually, it was Todd, his last boyfriend, who got tired of him. And since Todd was the manager of the hotel Liam worked in till a few days ago, Liam had to go.
“Mm… so is this the first job you would have as a caretaker?” Ryan’s gaze shifted from Liam’s tattooed arms back to his face.
He grinned, fidgeting in the chair. “You have to start somewhere. I can promise you I am hardworking and reliable. All my bosses so far were very happy with my performance.” More than happy, actually.
“Okay. But are you sure you know what you’re getting into? I’m not looking for loads of experience. But I don’t want the person I employ to quit after two weeks.” Ryan seemed to search his face for answers.
“Oh, totally!” Liam leaned forward, supporting his elbows on the tops of his thighs. “From the looks of it, we have quite a lot in common,” he tried with a smile.
That seemed to work, because Ryan grinned right back at him. “Yeah, I never had a caretaker with tats. You get an extra point for that.” He drew a little star on Liam’s resume, next to his name. It was so adorable that Liam actually had to bite his lip not to say it aloud.
“I have many more. You may see them if you hire me,” he said instead. “Will that be another extra point?”
“Not yet. You have to earn them.” Ryan raised his eyebrows, but kept smiling. “So how do you know you’d be good at helping me out with stuff. I watch these TV shows on cooking and chefs seem to be an explosive bunch.”
“I’m not Gordon Ramsay, which is probably why I could never make it to be a head chef.” Liam lied again. Maybe he would if it weren’t for the goddamn kink that kept getting him fired.
Ryan leaned back in his chair. “I’m not gonna lie, you seem like a fun guy to be around and we could get along, but there’s something I gotta tell you up front, yeah? Cause I’ve had some crappy experiences before.”
Liam’s eyebrows shot up. “I’m all ears,” he told Ryan with a hopeful smile.
“I’m gay, yeah. So if that’s a problem, then I really don’t have time for someone like that.” Ryan sighed. “Cause you will have to pick me up sometimes and stuff, so if it would make you feel uncomfortable, then… you know.”
Liam stared at him, his stomach clenching as if someone pushed a fist into his insides and closed it around them. What were the odds of possibly having a gay employer right after he promised himself never to try anything with his boss again?
Ryan started biting on the ring in the middle of his lips. “Uhm… okay… this is awkward,” he muttered after yet another moment of silence.
“Ah, sorry.” Liam covered his face with both hands, trying to get a grip on himself. Maybe he should treat it as a test of his willpower? “It’s just that I keep having gay bosses. What are the odds, right?” he added with a self-assured smirk.
Ryan looked amused as well, and he drew another star by his name. “Okay, so that’s out of the way. You’d have to do stuff like help me dye my hair, or drive me to town and stuff. You sure you’re fine with that?” He slouched a bit and looked into Liam’s eyes.
“Sure. I’m not overly social on an everyday basis.” Because none of your coworkers want to have anything to do with you after you get into the boss’s pants. “No girlfriend, no kids. I’m on my own, so no worries.” Liam bit his lips and pointed to Ryan’s head with his chin. “How often do you dye them?”
“At least once a month, but don’t worry, it’s not hard. So I understand you’re also totally fine it’s a live-in job?”
“Yes, I love the house! You chose a funny name though for a hotel by the sea.” Liam gave him his best smile, full of hope. Ha, so long suckers!
“Yeah…” Ryan straightened up in his wheelchair. “That’s another thing you have to be cool about. It’s a fantasy love hotel. My own idea!” He looked like a schoolboy who just got an A on a test.
Liam furrowed his eyebrows. “You mean, like those love hotels in Japan?”
“Yeah, yeah! You know about those?” Ryan’s grin widened. His lips were full and pale, with teeth so tiny they made him look like some kind of elf. “So we have these fantasy rooms and people come over from different states even, to stay and have some kinky fun.”
“Will I get a discount?” Liam was liking this place already.
“Yeah, sure.” Ryan snorted. “I’ll make a coupon for you.” Another star landed by Liam’s name. Things were looking good!
“Then we gotta take a tour sometime.” Liam moved around in his chair, eager to get up and congratulate Ryan on his great taste in caretakers. If this wasn’t the perfect working environment for him, he didn’t know what was. Save for the fact that he would have a gay boss. Now this wasn’t safe at all, though the wheelchair was somewhat of a borderline. It wasn’t that disabled people couldn’t be attractive (this one clearly was), but the thought of potentially having to break up with someone like that gave him shivers.
“Sure, I’ll show you around… if you get the job that is.” Ryan corrected himself, but at this point it was pretty clear to Liam that would be the case.
“What else can I do to make you put another of those stars next to my name?” He wiggled his brows, watching two metal spikes below Ryan’s lips move.
Ryan cleared his throat and cast his eyes down for a brief moment. “You have to show me you’re strong enough to lift me. You sure look like you are, but it’s also for you to check if you’re fine with it. The elevator doesn’t go to the floor where I have my bedroom.” He wheeled out from behind the desk and Liam finally got to see his slim legs in a pair of bleached out skinny jeans, but it was something else that caught his attention. There were some kind of hinged braces over his pants, with metal sides, hard pads on the kneecaps and stirrups under his thick-soled shoes. It would look like medical contraptions if it weren’t for the numerous leather straps in electric blue. The color made the whole thing incredibly funky. Like Ryan was training to be an astronaut or something.
Liam had to hide his surprise, as he never saw anyone wearing anything like it, definitely not while in a wheelchair, but he decided it wasn’t any of his business. And while he knew next to nothing about wheelchairs, Ryan’s had hot-rod style flames on the wheel covers. It looked real cool. Liam got up, and walked over to the sleek, black wheelchair, looking down at Ryan. “Just like that?”
“Yeah.” Ryan reached up. “I’ll sort of wrap my arms around your neck, and you can grab my thighs. Then try to help me sit on the desk, maybe.”
“Okay.” Liam bowed down and slid his hand to Ryan’s back, the other under his knees and gave him a reassuring smile. All he wanted was to lift him fast to show off his strength, but he ended up closing his eyes as soon as he felt Ryan’s scent. He smelled heat, freshly roasted coffee and a distinctive cologne, rich with the aroma of wood and citruses. It was fresh, masculine and oh so sexy… he really shouldn’t smell that sexy. Liam picked him up with a low groan.
“Yeah? You’re all right?” Ryan asked and wrapped his arms around Liam’s neck. “Not breaking your back yet?”
“Why, do I look like a geezer?” Liam tried to shake off the queasy feeling in his stomach. Ryan wasn’t all that heavy. Thank you anonymous genius for inventing weight training.
Liam pressed him closer, afraid of dropping him by accident. Fuck, his new, gay boss smelled so good… Looking at that kissable mouth and bright eyes, he was starting to think this employment wasn’t that good of an idea.
“No. Just making sure. If you’re good, so am I.” Ryan’s eyes shone with amusement. “Just let me sit on the desk now.” He was very slim, but gripped on Liam’s neck with surprising strength. It did make sense, since he had to use his upper body so much more than an average person.
“I’m perfectly fine.” Liam tossed Ryan up, just to show him that he could in fact catch him with ease. It was an impulse.
“Whoa!” Ryan clutched to his neck and brushed his face against it. “Show off.”
Liam felt himself shiver and he gently rocked the other man before parking his ass on top of the desk. “I want that star like, bad.”
“Okay, okay!” Ryan leaned on the desk to reach the resume and drew a total of three stars. “Just two more things.”
“Tell me.” Liam folded his arms, looking straight into Ryan’s eyes. He so had this job.
“Do you smoke?”
“No.” Liam lied reflexively, doing his best to keep a straight face, though his stomach got queasy all of a sudden.
“Were you even convicted?”
“Of course not.” Liam could only hope a smile would cover his nervousness. It wasn’t like he was in prison. Just a few weeks of community service. It would sound far worse than it actually was.
“Okay then, I’ll call you, when I make up my mind, yeah?” Ryan said, but there was a smile just dying to explode on his lips.
Liam swallowed, straightening his back to look more imposing. It was sink or swim. “Why don’t you tell me now?” he asked in a low voice, knowing what it would do to most gay guys. Or straight women for that matter. There was nothing better than a glaze of charm to top off the interview. “I hate to sound like I’m pushy, but I’d hate to sleep in my car today even more.”
Ryan snorted and bowed his head, scrutinizing the swirling flames tattooed on his fingers. “Okay, okay, you got the job.”
Liam broke out into a wide grin and made a move to hug Ryan, but stopped himself before it became too obvious. What the hell was wrong with him…
That’s great!” He fisted his other hand, making knuckles crack. Damn, he needed a cigarette so bad. “I’ll help you to the chair.”
“Yeah, that would be handy.” Ryan held out his arms, finally looking back at him.
“So…” Liam started as soon as he had Ryan in his arms again. “When do I start?”
“Your room is ready, so you can come back in an hour or two with your things. I’ll order some pizza if you want.” His grip was more casual now, as if he wasn’t scared of falling anymore.
“I have all my stuff in the car.” Liam felt a bit silly, but he didn’t want to bullshit Ryan anymore than he already had. “But I could get ingredients and make some homemade pizza here. How does that sound?” He turned towards the wheelchair, realizing that he had been just holding his new boss in the middle of the room. Now if that wasn’t awkward, he didn’t know what was.
Ryan raised his eyebrows. “Uhm… ‘make’ pizza? Wouldn’t you need some special facility to do that, or something?” He adjusted his legs into a better position as soon as he got back into his chair.
Liam exhaled. “No, not really, though it won’t taste like stone baked. Unless we bake it on one.”
“Like… just any stone from the beach?” Ryan made his way towards the door.
“No, more like a terracotta tile. Pizza stones are very expensive, but I could get basically the same thing at a construction store for less than a fiver.”
Ryan opened the door and moved out into the corridor. “I’m afraid the position has been filled,” he said to the last waiting candidate.
Ha. Liam could hardly contain his grin. He would be sleeping in a bed tonight. And now, he would quickly get the ingredients and make a pizza to die for. Ryan would never fire him after trying his pizza. It occurred to Liam at that point that he was too desperate to ask about his salary, but he ended up dismissing that thought. After all the ad did state it was ‘competitive’.
Liam was halfway to the shops when his phone rang. He rolled his eyes, already knowing who it would be.
“Hi bro.” He answered the call without taking a cigarette out of his mouth. Maybe he could buy some cheap smoke absorbent for his room? And some fragrance to mask the smell.
“Come on! How did it go?” Cole knew about his situation and promised he’d call as soon as he finished his class at the University. He was in Florida, but they spoke to each other at least every other day. Some might say it was sad to call your little brother your best friend, but Liam didn’t care.
“Great, I got the job.” He relaxed into the car seat. “The guy’s nothing like I expected. He has, like, a dozen piercings in each of his ears and blue hair.”
“Wow. You two might actually get along then, so how did it go, and tell me more about the job.”
Liam smiled. “I will be living in this pretty cool Addams Family house by the sea. It’s kinda quiet but close to the shops and restaurants. My gym is only ten minutes away by car too.” He made a mental note to talk to Ryan about fixed time off during weekdays. “And guess what, this guy owns a love hotel with those themed rooms and shit.” He took out another cigarette and used the old one to light it.
His brother snorted. “At least you’ll be out of temptation’s way. How old is he, anyway? And I really hope it’s not his gay dad employing you or something?”
Liam scowled. “No gay dad’s here, I’ve had enough of those.” It occurred to him that he had no clue how old Ryan really was. He looked young, maybe twenty, but then again, how would he own a hotel then? He must have inherited it. “And he’s… hard to say, early twenties, I guess.”
“So, have you thought about how you’re going to cope with his needs? Have you read anything about helping a wheelchair user?”
“I’m sure he’ll tell me everything he wants me to do. It can’t be that hard. Like, right now I am about to get some groceries and then make him dinner. Piece of cake, Cole.”He grinned, happy with his cig. The world wasn’t fair. First, cigarettes were promoted by doctors, and now people didn’t want him to even smoke in private. In the future, this could actually be considered an act of discrimination. Liam couldn’t wait.
“Did you even ask him what kind of disability he has?” his brother insisted. “Does he need help with… you know, going to the toilet and stuff?”
“No, it’s just his legs. Should be fine.” Liam took a turn towards Home Depot, scanning the parking lot for available space close to the entrance. “I have a good feeling about this.”
“Oh yeah? Do you like-like him?”
Liam felt heat rise to his cheeks. “Er… I only just got to know him…”
“I’m asking you a question here, Liam. Seriously. I will not let you sleep with another boss. It’s like you’re addicted to it.”
“Come on, Cole, he’s in a wheelchair…” He knew it was a wrong thing to say, as soon as the words rolled out of his tongue. “And I’m done with the bosses, I told you.”
“Did you get any vibes from him though?” Cole kept pushing. “You can tell me. It’s better you tell me than end up boiling it up and trying to seduce the poor boy.”
“I’m not going to seduce him.” Liam burned through a third of his cigarette in a single drag. “Seriously, there are gay people everywhere. It’s not like I can go and search for work in some bible freak community.” He huffed, stopping his car in front of Home Depot. He knew where this was going. Then again, he could never hide anything from Cole for long.
“If you did, you’d probably end up with the most closeted gay priest in there. And now, you’re going to live in the same house as the guy. That’s even more risk.”
Liam got out of the car, threw the cigarette butt to the ground and stomped on it. “He’s gay, all right!” He didn’t even realize how loud he was speaking, before two young women gave him a meaningful glare from the other side of the driving lane where they were putting some lamps into the trunk of their SUV. His face soured. Great.
Cole wouldn’t be himself if he wouldn’t deepen Liam’s misery over the phone. “I knew it! I knew you were hiding something! The fuck, Liam? You quit that job now, or in two months it will be Todd, Lance, and fucking Brody all over again! You really want to make that boy cry?”
Liam shifted uncomfortably at the mention of his most recent exes. “He’s not a ‘boy’.” He made his way towards the entrance, wondering if they had the unglazed tiles he needed in stock. “And it’s not like I’m some sexual predator. Can’t you put at least some faith in me?”
“Maybe you should look for another job after all?” Cole sighed. “But then again… maybe he doesn’t have the ‘boss’ qualities you usually go for, huh?”
“No, he’s not a power tripping jerk.” Liam rolled his eyes as he went through the store, searching for the department he needed.
“Mm. Maybe it’ll be easier for you to search for someone normal in the meanwhile?”
“What the hell do you mean by that?” Liam stopped in the middle of the shop with a deepening frown.
Cole exhaled, making the line crack. “Finding some kind of manager that would actually be gay or bi, in every single job you got kicked out of isn’t normal, now is it?”
“Well, for the record, Cole. I am not only having sex with people I work with. That would be a sad number, you know.” He snorted, walking into one of the aisles.
“Good, that’s a start!” His brother laughed. “I know what you should do though. Maybe you should look for a guy who’s in a position of power, if that gets you off, but isn’t actually your boss.”
Liam could only roll his eyes. If it only were that simple.
“That’s brilliant, how could I not have thought about that before? Thank God I have such a smart little brother to do the thinking for me.”
“At your service,” Cole teased him. “So if you have a moment of weakness, just call me and we’ll talk it out, yeah?”
“What are you now, my drug emergency call?”
“I’m your guy, boss-addict.” Cole sounded like he couldn’t stop chuckling.
“Ha. Ha. Hilarious. I need to get laid.”
“Nope. Can’t help you with that.”
Liam snorted. “As if I ever needed help with that.”