More products had arrived at the new Rose Apothecary and thankfully Stevie had offered to help David unpack. He hadn’t been able to see her as much since buying the general store, so it was lovely spending time with her even if they were working. That, and Alexis had proven to be absolutely no help. And then there was Patrick, who was coming over after his meeting at Ray’s.
David didn’t know what to think about his business partner. Well, he definitely liked his business knowledge and the fact he kept up with him, and he was really easy to flirt with, but David feared getting emotionally attached any further. They complemented each other nicely and he didn’t want his heart getting in the way of their business, especially when he didn’t know what Patrick’s preferences were.
Alexis had hinted that maybe Patrick wasn’t so interested in the business as he was in him, but David found that unlikely. Just because Patrick flirted back didn’t mean he was actually interested. Plenty of hot, sweet, wonderful straight men were comfortable enough in their sexuality to do that.
Years ago, David promised himself that he would never develop crushes on unavailable straight men.
But dear god did he have a crush on Patrick.
How could he not? Patrick was charming, smart, patient, good… Basically all the things David was not. And then put all those traits in one physically attractive person? There’d be something wrong if David didn’t have a crush on Patrick. Alexis’ insinuation about Patrick always lingered in the back of David’s mind with every interaction, hoping for any indication of mutual feelings. But he knew better than to focus on it. Alexis had been wrong a bunch of times before, so why would this be any different?
Patrick had finally arrived from Ray’s and the day he most feared was here: Stevie meeting Patrick.
So here he was, standing in the middle of his store, being tormented by his best friend and business partner because he was choosing his health over his appearance for once.
“Are-are you wearing a shower cap?” Patrick asked him, stepping closer and peering curiously at David’s head.
“Alexis has lice, and I’m taking preventative measures,” he explained simply.
“By wearing one of our hats that we now can’t sell.” Patrick looked incredulous that David would compromise their product like this, but he wasn’t the one who was exposed to his sister’s lice.
“Oh, he doesn’t have it,” Stevie chimed in. “I checked his head. I think the shower cap is more of a fashion choice at this point.” He gave her a hard stare as she knew it was anything but.
“Uh-huh. But you’re living with someone who does have lice, so just ‘cause you don’t have it now doesn’t mean that you couldn’t get it tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever,” Patrick said to him.
“It’s almost like you want me to get the lice,” David replied defensively. He was getting ganged up on and he was none too happy about it.
“I don’t want you to get it,” Patrick said with a gentle smile. “I just, I think you should be careful. You can crash at my place tonight if you need to.”
…did Patrick just offer a sleepover? Because David wanted that. But chances were, Patrick was just being nice and there was no ulterior motive even though David would be really quite okay with a sexy ulterior motive. It wasn’t worth torturing himself all night being so close to Patrick in such an intimate setting.
“Thank you, but Stevie offered her place this morning,” David said. It was definitely safer staying with Stevie.
“Uh, no I didn’t,” Stevie said firmly.
“Um, as I recall, you did,” he argued. “We were at the café and you welcomed me with open arms to stay at your humble abode.”
“That doesn’t even sound remotely like me,” she fought back. “You should take Patrick’s generous offer to stay with him.”
David finally looked to Patrick, who stared at him with warm, kind eyes, awaiting his answer.
God, he was so beautiful.
“Sure,” he finally said. “Thank you, Patrick.”
“Any time,” Patrick replied with a shy smile.
Behind Patrick, Stevie gave David a tiny double thumbs-up.
He was staying over at Patrick’s place. Patrick, his business partner. They were just business partners. There was nothing he had to worry about.
So why was David so nervous?
“Thank you again,” David said from the passenger seat of Patrick’s car as they drove back to Patrick’s place.
“Of course,” Patrick replied. “I’m glad we’re spending time together outside the store. Get to know each other better.”
“Mm. Definitely a good thing,” he said.
They had just stopped at the motel for David to run in, grab his things, and do his hair. Thankfully Alexis wasn’t there because David did not want a) lice, and b) to explain to her that he was staying at Patrick’s place for the night.
It’s not that he was ashamed of his decision. It was the incessant jokes and comments he would receive as a result. Stevie knew and that was already one too many people who knew where he was going, but if Alexis knew, he’d never hear the end of it.
He wanted something that was just his.
“How long have you been in Schitt’s Creek?” David asked.
“Not too long before I met you,” Patrick answered. “Maybe 6 months?”
“And it hasn’t broken your spirit yet?”
“No, I’m pretty used to small town life,” he said. “I grew up a few towns over on a farm.”
David imagined Patrick now on a farm, feeding horses, throwing bales of hay... Shirt unbuttoned, his strong forearms flexing as he tightens his grip on his pitchfork…
“Farm, huh? I worked on a Mennonite farm for a little bit,” David said, diverting his focus from his farmhand fantasy to the stunning reality of his own experiences doing gross farm work.
“Doing… what?” Patrick asked with a smirk.
“I’ll have you know that that Mennonite family was extremely gracious and elated that I was helping them,” David said defensively. “They were more elated when my family finally came to pick me up, but that’s beside the point. The point is, I’ve done farm work.”
“Wow, David Rose did farm work. So, did you bale hay? Milk cows? Shear sheep?”
“I provided encouragement and moral support as I supervised the daily tasks,” he said. As he finished, he realized how terrible that sounded.
“Ah, yes, I forgot moral support,” Patrick teased. “One of the most vital tasks on a farm. Right up there with feeding the chickens and detasseling the corn.”
David was failing to hide his smile. Teasing from his family and Stevie was one thing, but when Patrick teased him, it made him feel seen. There were no barbs or cutting criticisms, just playful comments.
They pulled up to Patrick’s place… which was Ray’s house.
“Do we need to pick something up?” David asked as Patrick put the car in park.
“Ah, nope,” Patrick answered sheepishly. “I’m staying at Ray’s right now.”
Why would a man like Patrick be staying at his employer’s home? He was so put together, or at least he made it seem like he was. David had only just started his business, so it was understandable that he’d still be living at the motel with his family. But Patrick? At Ray’s?
“Should I be concerned for you?” David asked, only half-joking. Patrick laughed.
“No, Ray’s a great guy. I’m just staying with him while I find a place that’s closer to Schitt’s Creek,” Patrick explained. “I was driving about an hour and a half each way and since I’m spending a lot more time in town at the store, I figured I should probably move. Hence, halfway house.”
“Okay, good,” he said. “Because I was gonna say…”
“Let’s go,” Patrick laughed as he nudged David’s thigh. He climbed out of the vehicle and David followed suit, overnight bag in hand.
The house was dark, save for a lamp in the front room and a glow from a second story window. Patrick quietly unlocked the door.
Once inside the home, David could hear the faint murmuring of a television from upstairs. Patrick gently shut the door, making as little noise as possible. It was only 8 o’clock, an oddly early time for Ray to be in bed.
“Is he in bed already?” David asked Patrick.
“No, but we should still be quiet,” Patrick whispered back.
“Patrick? Is that you?” Ray called from upstairs. David heard Patrick take a deep breath.
“Hey, yeah, it’s me,” Patrick said.
The floorboards creaked above them and there were footsteps on the stairs. Soon, Ray emerged from the darkness wearing a brightly floral caftan.
“Hey Ray,” Patrick repeated.
“Hello, Patrick,” he said. He gave David an amused look. “David Rose, what are you doing here? Patrick, please tell me you’re not extending our office hours. I can’t be bothered during my Lifetime movies, you know that.”
“There was a lice outbreak at the motel,” Patrick explained. “So, David’s staying with me for the night.”
His phrasing was not lost on David.
Staying with me.
“Oh. Well,” Ray said, seemingly very interested in this development. “Let me give you a tour of the house—" He took one step off the stairs before both David and Patrick both started talking.
“You don’t have to do that, Ray.”
“I honestly have no interest in a tour.”
“Are you sure? There are some really interesting aspects to this home—”
“Ray, David still lives in the motel. You can’t sell him a closet system,” Patrick reminded him. Suddenly Ray was no longer interested in speaking to them.
“I guess I’ll just go back to watching TV alone upstairs…” Ray said bitterly as he trudged up the stairs. Once he was out of sight, Patrick turned and smiled shyly at David.
“Sorry about that,” he said. “He gets… chatty.”
David waved a hand in front of his own blank face. “Do you see how surprised I am?”
They heard the sound of a door upstairs close and the volume of the TV elevate.
Patrick led David up the stairs, occasionally looking back and smiling sweetly at him. They walked past a closed door with muffled bad dialogue leaking out – safe to assume that was Ray’s room – and an open bathroom door.
“We’re in here,” Patrick said, ushering him through the second door on the right. As David stepped over the threshold, he was immediately intensely aware of where he was. He was in Patrick’s bedroom.
The room was very simple and clean, an aesthetic David expected from someone like Patrick. He wasn’t one for extravagance from what he had learned in the months they’d known each other. The blue pinstripe wallpaper brought a lovely touch of sophistication to a room full of IKEA furniture. Particle board wasn’t especially beautiful, but since moving to Schitt’s Creek, the bar for good interior design was incredibly low.
Against one wall was a wide, short, brown dresser with a beautiful black-and-white photo of what David assumed was Patrick’s family, and a small collection of books that included dense business texts and a couple Harry Potter books. In the corner was a beautifully upholstered navy armchair with a lamp craned over the back. A small brown side table was cozied up to the chair with a worn copy of Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed sitting on top of a small Chromebook. There was a set of closed wooden sliding doors David presumed was his closet and another open door that led to the connected shared bathroom.
And then there was his bed.
It was a queen-size mattress sitting on a surprisingly elegant brown bedframe, pastel blue sheets and comforter neatly tucked in.
This was Patrick’s private space that was specifically his. This was where he lived. This was where he slept.
“This is a lot of IKEA,” David finally remarked. It was all he could say to distract himself from the overwhelming feeling of being where he was. Patrick closed the door quietly behind them.
“Yeah, it was the best option for getting furniture up here,” Patrick said. “Ray let me do whatever I wanted since all he had in here before I moved in was an old stationary bike and stacks of old Redbook magazines.”
“You don’t happen to still have those Redbooks up here, do you?” he asked jokingly. “I could use some light reading before bed. All that… fashion…” Patrick grimaced.
“Yeah, unfortunately they were thrown out with the bike,” he answered in jest. David couldn’t help but smile. It was so easy to talk to Patrick. He had never felt this comfortable speaking to anyone since… well, ever.
David drifted over to the chair in the corner. It was a beautiful Victorian-style armchair with a dark wooden frame. The dark blue fabric was still soft under his fingers and the tight, barely-visible swirling floral pattern was completely intact.
“This isn’t IKEA,” David remarked. Patrick tucked his hands in his pockets as he joined David in the corner.
“That is a chair my great-great-grandfather made,” he said. “I reupholstered and fixed it up in the summer after business school.” David was shocked.
“You did this?”
“It took me about four months, but yeah. It was really meditative and way better than immediately getting a job.”
David stared at him in amazement. Upholstery was a hard skill to learn, and to do it with such precision on a family heirloom?
“You must be very skilled with your hands.”
“Uh, I-I would say so,” Patrick said, blushing.
Oh, how much he wanted those skilled hands touching him right now.
Nope, not time for thoughts like that. David had boundaries now. After the whole throuple debacle, he unconsciously decided it wasn’t time to date anyone or sleep with anyone in Schitt’s Creek. And besides, someone as kind and thoughtful as Patrick wouldn’t want someone like him anyway. They never did.
Patrick’s eyes lingered on him a few seconds too long, which made David’s heart leap. It was nice to dream.
“Um, bathroom’s through there,” Patrick said, gesturing to the open door. “I’m gonna run downstairs and grab a couple glasses—" He slid open the closet door and pulled out a bottle of dark liquid. “—for this.” He passed the bottle to David. It was a top-shelf bourbon he had seen at the bars he’d frequent in New York. This bottle was opened, but it looked completely full.
“This is really nice bourbon,” David said flirtatiously. “Are we celebrating something?”
“Uh, well, you’re—you don’t have lice,” he answered, obviously flustered. “That’s something to celebrate. You don’t have any bugs in your hair.”
“Well, when you put it that way…”
Their eyes met from across the room. Patrick quietly chuckled and David smiled. He was trying so hard to be the good host for David when really all David needed him to be was himself. That would be enough.
“I’m gonna…” Patrick gestured to the bedroom door.
Patrick slipped out of the room, closing the door behind him.
David was alone in Patrick’s room.
The longer he was in there, the more comfortable he felt. It was so different to be in someone’s private bedroom after spending so much time in the wood-paneled nightmare he shared with Alexis. Being in his business partner’s bedroom should have been weird. They were co-owners of a business. They had a professional relationship.
It didn’t stop the longing David felt for him. Flirting was great, and he loved watching Patrick get shy when he did it. It really made him consider how Patrick felt about him. He invited David to stay at his place for the night, brought out his expensive bourbon to ‘celebrate’, and was having David sleep…
Wait, where was David sleeping tonight?
He didn’t think Patrick would expect him to sleep in his great-great-grandfather’s chair. He glanced in the closet – which was immaculate – and didn’t see a cot or fold-out bed. The bed was too low to the ground for a trundle. David was certainly not sleeping downstairs where he was fair game for Ray.
David’s breath caught in his throat.
Was he…? Were they…?
The door swung open and Patrick reappeared, surprising David who was understandably freaking out.
“Sorry, that took longer than expected,” Patrick said. He set the glasses on the dresser. “Had to wash these. Hand me that?” David passed him the bottle.
“Um, quick question,” he said as Patrick poured for them both. “Where, where were you planning for me to sleep? Because I didn’t see a bedroll or trundle or…” Patrick handed him his glass.
“I was thinking we could share my bed? Not pushing anything or making any assumptions,” Patrick said, a hint of worry in his voice. “If you’d rather sleep alone, I can sleep in the chair. Wouldn’t be the first time—”
“We can share your bed,” David interrupted him kindly. “It’s not a problem.”
“Nothing’s gonna happen,” Patrick repeated.
Except David wanted something to happen. He wanted to share a bed with the man he was crushing on so hard. David knew Patrick would be generous and patient and loving and all the things he’d never had in any of his other partners. This was a window of opportunity that if he passed on it, he might not get another chance.
“What if I want something to happen?” David asked carefully, staring at the glass in his hand. When he looked up, Patrick was staring at him with a quiet intensity David had never seen before.
“What did you just say?” he asked breathlessly.
Now David was getting nervous. He never got nervous like this with other people before. Usually he didn’t have an emotional investment in how the other person answered. If they wanted something, great. If they didn’t, he’d move on. With Patrick, he cared too much.
“I said, I would like if something happened tonight,” he said, his heart in his throat. “That is, if that’s something you’re interested in…?”
Patrick said nothing.
David assumed incorrectly. Their months of flirting was purely platonic. This wasn’t the first time David had been rejected like this. He could possibly text Stevie and she could pick him up, and then he and Patrick could rebuild their business relationship from the ground up in the morning.
Then, Patrick silently took David’s glass from him and placed it with his own on the dresser.
David’s heart was racing as Patrick gently drew David in by the waist, holding him close. David’s body was pressed right up against Patrick’s and he was lucky his legs hadn’t given out at that point. He rested his hands on Patrick’s biceps, feeling the firm muscle for the first time under his fingertips.
“I’m very interested,” Patrick murmured before leaning in and kissing him.
David had never been kissed like this before. It was soft and sensual, respectful and reverent. It gave him goosebumps. So many people David had kissed were rough and demanding, expecting him to give them whatever they wanted. But the way Patrick tenderly drew him in was downright sexy.
They kissed for a few moments, slowly and gently, before they finally parted. David rested his forehead against Patrick’s.
“God, that was really good,” David whispered.
“Can I tell you a secret?” Patrick asked. David nodded. “I’ve been wanting to do that for a while.”
As if there were any way for Patrick to be more endearing.
“Was it everything you hoped it would be?” David asked cheekily.
“You know, honestly? I don’t remember,” Patrick said sarcastically. “I think you’ll have to refresh my memory.”
David smiled as he slid his hand to cup Patrick’s cheek and drew him in for another long passionate kiss. Patrick inhaled and ran his hands up David’s back, his broad hands radiating heat through David’s thin sweater. Patrick’s body felt so good pressed up against him, so solid and firm. It took one tentative lick and Patrick opened his mouth, making their kisses downright depraved. He honestly couldn’t believe this was happening and he wanted more.
He carefully walked Patrick backwards until he was up against the dresser. Patrick moaned wantonly against David’s mouth – the hottest sound David had ever heard – and that was all the encouragement he needed to run his hands down Patrick’s sides and undo his belt. He was going to make this so good for Patrick—
Hands closed over his and Patrick drew back.
“David, stop,” Patrick whispered gently.
It hadn’t even been 30 minutes and David had already ruined whatever relationship was starting. Patrick didn’t want him like that. He jumped to conclusions too quickly and he’d destroyed the one relationship that could’ve made him happy. Just chock this up as another colossal failure.
David withdrew his hands and took a step back, but Patrick was quick to grab him by the waist. He pulled him close and kissed him so sweetly David’s heart melted.
“Can I tell you another secret?” Patrick said, his cheeks rosy.
“I’ve… never kissed a guy before either.”
David’s eyes widened and his chest tightened. Suddenly it made sense. His face softened into a small smile.
“So, I’m not really ready for that quite yet,” Patrick added.
Years of dating and sleeping with terrible people had built this assumption in him that that was the order of business. Sex on the first date was par for the course. Even his first time was some drunken, MDMA-fueled grope-fest with some guy twice his age at Coachella. From then it was always a means to an end and never something to be cherished or appreciated.
Yet here he was with the kindest person he’d possibly ever met who was not asking him to do any of that. But he wanted to. He was thinking about it.
Oh god, Patrick had probably fantasized about all of this – kissing, groping, sex – with David in mind. It only made David want him more.
“Is there something you’d like to do instead?” David asked. He lightly kissed across Patrick’s jaw to nip at his earlobe. Patrick shivered, his hands tightening on David’s sweater.
“Um, uh, I-I like this.”
“But I’d really like it if we were laying down?”
David pulled back to give Patrick a smirk.
“Are you asking me to go to bed with you, Patrick?” he asked, jokingly scandalized.
“I am,” Patrick answered before breaking out into a wide smile that David couldn’t help but mirror. “We should probably get changed first. I’ll let you take first crack at the bathroom.”
“Such a gentleman,” David said playfully.
“Ah, well, you know, I do what I can,” Patrick replied with a smile.
David leaned forward and kissed him again just because he could. Then he woefully pulled back from Patrick, the room seemingly cooler now that he didn’t have this devastatingly gorgeous man against him.
He scooped up his bag and headed into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. After quickly slipping on his sleepwear, David found himself staring at the contents of his toiletries bag. He had come prepared to do his whole nightly skincare regimen as he hadn’t anticipated making out with his business partner. All the creams made his skin a little tacky and even he wouldn’t touch it. But there was a man he was very attracted to in the other room who he wanted to touch his skin.
“I promise we’ll do this twice tomorrow,” he whispered to the bag before zippering it shut and heading back into the bedroom.
Patrick was sitting in his chair, quietly reading. He was dressed as simply as David was in a thin t-shirt and plaid pajama pants. David set his bag down next to the dresser, then meandered over to Patrick who looked up as David leaned down and placed his hands on the arms of the chair.
“Good book?” he asked.
“It is,” Patrick said sweetly as he bookmarked his place and set the book on the side table. “Lots of great love and relationship advice.”
That was by far the cutest thing he’d ever heard.
“Any good advice so far?”
“I would say so,” he murmured, leaning forward to kiss David.
“Whatever advice you’re reaping from this book, it’s working,” David remarked. With gentle hands on his waist, Patrick guided David to step back so he could stand.
“The chapter on seducing your business partner has been very useful,” Patrick joked as he wrapped his arms around David’s waist. “They suggested that one should invite him to stay at your place when the sister he shares a room with has lice. It apparently has a 100% success rate.”
“A flawless suggestion,” David said with a smile. He kissed Patrick again, something he could do all day. Patrick was so gentle and sweet, and it was so easy to kiss him. For a man who had never kissed another man before tonight, he was really, really good at it.
“Bed?” Patrick murmured hotly against his lips. David broke from their embrace to take Patrick’s hand and led him to his bed. He laid back onto it, enjoying the feeling of memory foam beneath him. It had been a few years since he’d been on an actual comfortable mattress, and even longer since he’d been in one with someone he liked.
Patrick crawled across the bed over to him. He hovered over David, his hands pressed into the mattress on either side of David’s shoulders. One of his legs was very carefully slotted between David’s to keep their bodies separated as if to be sure nothing was going to go too quickly.
Though he was often the more dominant one in his relationships, this was hardly the first time David had ever been in this position. However, it was the first time he had butterflies in his stomach. It was a new sensation and one he wasn’t quite sure what to do with. He’d never been so overwhelmed.
“Are you okay?” Patrick asked as he searched his face with concern.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” David assured him. He ran his hands down Patrick’s sides, then back up his chest. “Can I tell you a secret?”
“Of course,” he said earnestly. His dark brown eyes were so beautiful this close up.
“I’m nervous because I’ve never done this either.”
Patrick’s brow immediately creased with confusion. David chuckled and cupped Patrick’s cheek. Maybe he should elaborate.
“I mean, I’m used to like, sleepover sleepovers,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve shared a bed with someone who didn’t want that since my first solo trip to Cabo. I’m used to a certain cadence of events and this is… different. Good different.”
Ugh, that was so much honesty. He wanted to hide – or at least hide his face – but with Patrick still on top of him, that was impossible. Usually he deflected these sorts of emotions with some sarcastic comment yet here he was basically baring his soul by comparison. He couldn’t avoid Patrick’s kind gaze that made his body flush with warmth and want.
Silence permeated the space around them. David never felt more uneasy. He needed Patrick to say something, anything, that didn’t make him feel like a total fool.
“Thank you, David,” Patrick said softly. He leaned down and kissed David in a way that made David’s skin prickle. It was deep and searching, passionate and pure. He couldn’t help arching his back, wanting more from Patrick. No one had ever kissed him like this before: so sweetly, so lovingly, and with such care.
Patrick lowered himself to lay fully on David and threaded his fingers through his thick hair, moaning with quiet satisfaction as he did. David did everything in his willpower not to start pulling off Patrick’s clothes right that second.
Finally, Patrick drew back and David could think.
“God, you’re good at that,” David said breathlessly. “Though if you do that again, I’ll have to break my promise to go slow.”
“Sorry, I got a bit carried away,” he said, smiling bashfully.
He picked himself up off David – who immediately regretted saying anything – and up from the bed. He moved around the room to flick off the light switch. The room went dark, save for the sparse exterior lights streaming in from the windows. Patrick returned to the bed and peeled back the blankets on one side. David did some fancy maneuvering to follow Patrick’s lead and joined him under the covers.
They laid there, on their sides, facing each other. David could see bits of Patrick’s face in the shadows: his hairline, his nose, his brow. The smile crinkles at the corner of his eyes were also unmistakable.
“So, was this how you imagined this sleepover going?” David asked.
“It was more on the fantasy end of what I expected,” Patrick said. It was so endearing that he didn’t think this could happen. And to be honest, David was right there with him.
Alexis had to convince him Patrick was potentially interested in him. David had stopped assuming people’s sexuality a long time ago, so it wasn’t that he doubted that Patrick could be gay. It was that he never believed when someone liked him.
“What did you expect was going to happen?”
“Well,” Patrick began, “I figured you’d come over, we’d have a couple drinks, then there’d be this awkward discussion of deciding who was going to sleep where. I was fully prepared to sleep in my chair while wishing I could be in the bed with you.”
“Mm, I like this option a lot more,” David purred. He took Patrick’s hand in his and threaded their fingers together.
“I do too.”
They chatted for another few hours with the same ease they did back at the store. Of course, tonight had a bit more kissing than their previous conversations and you would hear absolutely no complaining from David. It was difficult for him to express just how happy he was with tonight. Sure, he had assumed there would be sex and typically he’d be disappointed, but the chance to have an innocent (okay, mostly innocent) night with Patrick was so much better than that.
God, he liked him so much.
As the night wore on, David watched as Patrick grew sleepier; his responses were less articulate, and pauses stretched in length. His eyes had shut, and his breathing evened out. Their hands were still clasped and one of Patrick’s legs was hooked over his calf, as if trying to touch as much of David as he could while staying respectful.
David gazed upon Patrick’s peaceful face. How did David get so lucky? He was so calm and beautiful. Perfect.
That was the last thought he had before drifting off to sleep.