This was written for the Den's "Wrong Answer" challenge.
Title: Through His Eyes
Challenge: Wrong Answer
"Samuel?" Jonah called out as he walked into their loft. The slight echo to his voice confirmed that the loft was empty. Samuel had been spending a lot of time in his studio lately. That wasn't a problem between the two men, Jonah had fallen in love with Samuel's free spirit and he knew that when the muse struck Samuel, the young man was compelled to paint what was in his mind's eye.
No, Samuel holing up in his studio wasn't the problem. The problem was he normally chattered away to Jonah about his latest creation and this time Samuel had been silent. Almost as though he was keeping a secret. And they both knew how dangerous and destructive secrets could be.
Jonah had left his lover alone all week, but he couldn't let it continue. Quickly storing his briefcase full of math papers to grade on the small shelf by the door, Jonah went back down the stairs. As he walked through the gallery that was below their loft, Jonah saw that the weekend crowds were already in full swing. He skirted around families and couples who were looking at the paintings and pottery that the gallery sold and walked into the back room and out the door. Situated in a small clearing several yards from the gallery was Samuel's studio.
Jonah didn't knock on the door, but walked right in. The large one room studio was brightly lit from the large skylights in the ceiling and there in one corner, half hidden by a large easel, was the man Jonah was looking for.
He must have made some sound because Samuel looked up from his canvas and in a panicked voice said, "no! Don't come any closer. I don't want you to see!"
Startled and a bit hurt if he was truthful with himself, Jonah stopped in mid stride. The look of panic and fear on Samuel's face made Jonah's protective instincts go into high alert. With a growl in his voice, Jonah said, "Don't tell me no, boy! Something's wrong and I will find out what it is."
"No, no. Nothing's wrong. I just don't want you to see. Its private," Samuel pleaded.
Jonah didn't know what to do. He wanted Samuel to grow and shed his inhibitions that growing up in such a conservative country had given him, but Jonah also needed Samuel to share his concerns and problems. Jonah couldn't help his brat unless he told him his problems. Cautiously, Jonah said, "I just need to know if what you are hiding could hurt you."
Looking through the dark blond hair that had fallen in his face, Samuel haltingly answered, "Maybe."
That was all it took and Jonah couldn't stop the protectiveness that roared inside of him. "Wrong answer!" The dark deep voice was more the growl of a predator. And so was Jonah's stride as he stalked toward his brat. As he rounded the easel and saw himself painted on the large canvas, he stopped one step away from Samuel. What stopped him was the beautiful painting of himself.
The painting was a mix of lightness and dark. Jonah was looking at himself the way Samuel saw him. Contrasting brush strokes that showed Jonah in a forbidding manner. But his boy had tempered some of the strokes, making Jonah's edges smoother. Love was shown in every single brush stroke highlighting all of the tall man's curves and angles.
Looking back and forth between the painting and the artist, Jonah couldn't seem to get his mouth to work.
Finally, Samuel broke the silence. "Um. So, is my ass in danger?"
Jonah still couldn't speak. He thought of all the times he was so harsh on this man he loved so much. On the times he'd taken his belt off and thrashed Samuel's backside. Of the times, he'd silenced him with a stern look. And Jonah was speechless at this show of love.
"I won't put it in the gallery. It's not for sale." Samuel tried to placate Jonah. "I had to, Jonah. I tried to resist, but everytime I tried to paint, all I could see was you."
The nervousness and fear in Samuel's voice broke Jonah's silent trance. Taking that one step, Jonah wrapped his arms around his lover. Squeezing him tightly, Jonah kissed Samuel hard on his head. "This is for us. No one else sees this."
Jonah felt the tension leave Samuel's body. At the nod of agreement, Jonah gave one last kiss to Samuel's head. This time the kiss was soft and tender.
"No more secrets, Samuel," Jonah gently commanded. When Samuel nodded his agreement again, Jonah asked, "Will you be much longer?"
"I don't think so. I was just finishing up for the day when you walked in. I need to clean my brushes and put away a few things," Samuel answered.
Walking toward the door, Jonah said, "While you do that, I'll run over to Antonio's and pick up dinner. We'll have a quiet night at home."
As he shut the door behind him, Jonah lifted his face toward the sky. The afternoon sun was low in the west and the cicadas were loudly chirping and Jonah's heart had never felt more at peace.