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Chapter  10

The morning of the wedding dawned cool but sunny.  Aaron was still in bed staring at the ceiling when there was a knock on the door and then it swung open.  “Don’t blame me for all the food. I told Emma that you would never eat all this.” Jessi came in with a tray completely loaded with every breakfast food a person could imagine. “Did you get any sleep?”

“I got a few hours.  Once Dad left about 1:00, I slept until a few minutes ago.”

“Let me guess, Justin?”

Aaron smiled at his sister as she set the breakfast tray on a small table near the French doors. He got out of bed and slipped on a robe before sitting by the table since there was a chill in the room. “Yes, Justin. You are going to help me eat this, aren’t you?”

Jessi sat on the other chair by the table and brought her feet up on the chair. She then reached for a buttery croissant which she started pulling apart, layer by layer, popping each piece in her mouth. 

“How did you know it was Daddy J?” Justin looked at the plate with a waffle, strawberries, and whipped cream and pulled it closer to himself.  He cut off a piece with a fork and knife and savored the bite.

“I noticed his emotions were at the surface.  You know how he used to get a little crazy when he was finishing a commissioned project? He always had some tells.  He wasn’t on the crazy side this week like he would about his artwork, but I could tell he was thinking hard about something.”

“That fits.  He wanted to be sure Julian was comfortable with Teddy and asked if I had a happy childhood.”

“A happy childhood? Did you have a different one than I did?”

“It all has to do with the fact we shared a bio dad. He hoped I hadn’t wanted to spend more time with him.  I vaguely remember when Justin’s dad came around a few times and tried to get visitation time with me.”

“I don’t remember that,” Jessi sipped on her coffee.

“You’re younger than me and I barely remember it. I wasn’t supposed to hear them but I overheard our dads say if he wanted to visit, it had to be with all three of us, not just me.” Aaron finished his waffle, picked up a piece of bacon, and took a bite as they both sat silently with their thoughts.

Jessi refilled her cup and topped off Justin’s with more steaming coffee. Then she sighed and said, “How could they ever think they weren’t the best parents in the world? They always made sure we had a solid female example. They tucked us more nights than most parents.  We could be spoiled, snotty, slugs.  Instead, Gus works with protecting natural resources.  You’re a vet and spent time working in Africa. I’m taking pictures around the world to show people how others live. We aren’t whiny, useless, coddled assholes like so many rich kids.”

“Jessi,  what got you so wound up today?”

“I never thought about it but now I know that before I leave for Asia again, I’m going to tell them they were the best parents in the world and I could never have picked a better pair.” Jessi stood and stretched. “Don’t you think you should take a shower. Aren’t you getting married today?”

“I have plenty of time.”

“What are you wearing?” As soon as Jessi said it she realized something. “You hadn’t thought about that, have you?”

“No!: Aaron nearly tipped the table over as he jumped up. “I mean we just got engaged yesterday and then the family arrived.”

“Call Remmie and see what he is planning to wear.  He expected the wedding. Then I will find something for you in your old closet or in Dad’s.”

“Can’t I just run across the hall and talk to Julian?”

“No, he and his family went over to Terry and Griff’s house.  Victoria insisted you two can’t see each other.”

“Good morning, Julian.” Silence. “I love you, too. What are you wearing for our wedding? I don’t know what to wear.” Silence. “Ok, Jessi said she would find something somewhere in the house. Are we really not going to see each other?” More silence. “Yes, darling.  I love you.”

“So what is he wearing?” Jessi asked.

“He said he had a casual suit he was wearing.  What is a casual suit?” Aaron was getting anxious now.  He started to pace.

“Bro, you trust me when it comes to clothing, right?”

Aaron flung open the closet before realizing none of his clothes were in this room. “Of course I do, Jessi, but that isn’t helping at the moment.” 

“Go shower in your old room. I am going to run next door and see Remmie’s suit and then we will pull something together. Dad has a lot of clothes downstairs and it should fit you.” Jessi walked over and put her arms around Aaron. “I am so happy for you, Aaron. Teddy is, too.” She kissed his cheek and then nearly skipped out the door.

Thirty minutes later, Aaron stood in front of the mirror finishing his shave when there was a knock on his door. “Who is it?”

“Your dad,” Brian’s voice came from the hall and then the door opened. “Jessi and your dad are digging through our closets so I thought I’d check on you.” Brian couldn’t stop looking at Aaron.

“What, did I cut myself?” Aaron glanced in the mirror, relieved he didn’t see any blood.

Brian took a couple steps further in the room as Aaron walked over to him. “Are you Ok?”

Brian reached out and touched Aaron’s cheek, “I’m good.  You just look so much like Justin sometimes.”

“I hope his clothes will fit me.  I hadn’t even thought about it until Jessi said it this morning.  I imagined that when the time came we would go shopping together and find something that went together.”

Brian started messing with Aaron’s hair. He walked to the bathroom and came back with a comb. “I don’t know why I think I can do your hair.”

“Of course you can.  Your hair is always perfect, although, I think there is a little more gray in it.” Aaron winked at Brian.

“You know, I don’t even mind.” Brian tossed the comb to the bed and put his hands on Aaron’s shoulders. Looking Aaron directly in the eyes, he said, “You can’t know how glad I am you found Julian. For years we pictured you with Teddy and when he passed, I worried you may not ever open up to someone new.” Brian pulled his son close and said, “This may piss you off but, as much as I loved Teddy, the two of you were always comfortable together. You and Julian have the best kind of tension between you.”

“I’m not mad, Dad. I will always remember the love between Teddy and me but I know what you mean. I would have loved him the rest of my life but, now that I have been with Julian, I know a new level of the physical side of love.”

They both turned as they heard someone coming up the steps. Jessi came rushing into the room. “This is so perfect! Oh, Daddy, we wondered where you had gone.”

“What did you find, Jess?” Aaron asked her anxiously. Brian turned to leave but she stopped him, “Daddy, stay.  I want you to see it put together and see what you think.”

“Jessi, did you talk to Julian? Did he sleep well? Is he ready to get married? He didn’t change his mind, did he?”

“Yes, no, yes, no, in that order. Oh, and don’t blame me but he said I had to do this.” She gave him a quick kiss on the lips. “He said on the lips and that you needed to know it was from him.” She smiled at her brother, “Remmie isn’t sure if he can wait until 3:00.”

“I don’t even know what the schedule is for the day,” Aaron said.”

“Jess, you talk. I doubt you can talk and pass clothes at the same time.”

Jessi swatted Brian and then as Aaron tried on the clothes she had brought up, she explained the ceremony was mid afternoon and then there would be appetizers out on the front lawn and then Emma is making dinner for everyone.”

“Isn’t it just us, the family, I mean?” Aaron asked.

Brian tied Aaron’s tie and then straightened his collar as Jessi continued, “It is mostly family but we invited a couple friends from town.  Dr. Matt, since he let you work with him all those summers.  We invited a couple of your teachers and, of course, the employees.” 

Brian stopped straightening and tucking and Jessi did a low whistle. Brian’s voice was a little shaky when he said, “Julian is a lucky man.”

“Whoa, bro, that clothes fits you like it was made for you.” Jessi walked around Aaron twice, making him nervous.

“Will you stop? What are you doing anyway, Jess?”

“I am picturing you and Remmie standing side by side.”

“Now that I’m dressed, what am I going to do? We have a couple hours before the ceremony.”

“I’m going to go get ready.” Brian walked toward the door. “Maybe I can catch your dad before he gets in the shower.”

“Dad, just remember there is a wedding today and guests will start coming in an hour or so.”  Jessi said to Brian’s back and then she and Aaron looked at each other and burst out laughing.

“So what’s next on my schedule?”

“Next on the list is pictures. I need ten minutes to change clothes and then I am going to take your wedding pictures. You are ok with seeing Remmie before the ceremony, right?”

“Of course! I wanted to sleep with him last night.  Will Victoria agree with that?”

“I talked her into it.  I told her I needed to take pictures before the wedding. I need a couple hours for that so she said Ok and she is going to help me with equipment before the service.  During the service she will be busy being the best madam.”

“Best man…I didn’t think about that? Will you…”

“Ah, Aaron, ask Gus.  I really want to get pictures of all this.  You call Gus and I’ll be right back.”

The next hour Jessi took pictures of Aaron first in the house and then at several locations around the ranch.  She finished the pictures of Aaron near the spot Julian had proposed and then, with the sunbeams coming through the pine trees, Victoria walked out with a blindfolded Julian while Aaron had his back to his groom.  Jessi got into position  and then Victoria uncovered her brother’s eyes while Aaron slowly turned around.  The men stood about twenty feet apart. Jessi took picture after picture capturing their faces, their body language as they moved toward each other.

Both men were in khaki pants, and dark brown jackets. Julian had on a deep coral button down shirt while Aaron’s shirt was the color of the Caribbean Sea. Aaron’s skin and hair were still kissed by the African sun. While his bleached hair was longer than normal, his tanned skin made his eyes look even brighter blue.

“Damn, Aaron, I didn’t know you could get more gorgeous.” Julian walked up to him and at first they held hands and looked at each other but then, at the same time, they stepped even closer and kissed.

Jessi moved around them taking pictures and just as she was about to tell them to do something else. Julian pressed Aaron backward in a deep dip. Out of nowhere a beam of sunlight illuminated the couple and the light fragmented behind them causing a halo to appear around them. 

Victoria softly said, “Did you get that?”

“These are going to be so perfect,” Jessi replied. When Jessi lowered the camera, tears ran down her cheeks. “I wasn’t sure this would ever happen for Aaron.”

“Well, I doubted Julian would ever settle down. He has been so different since he met Aaron.”

After a couple more shots they all went back to the house. They didn’t want the guests to see them before the actual wedding. 

While the grooms waited in the house, Brian and Justin took a quiet moment to talk to Aaron and Julian. The older men had dressed the same. They wore khaki pants and white button down shirts. They had ties of deep blue.

“You both look so happy,” Justin said as he walked up to the couple and kissed each on the cheek and then stepped back where Brian put an arm around his waist and pulled him close to his side and kissed his temple.

Brian spoke, “We never talked about your honeymoon. Do you have plans for tonight?”

“We aren’t going anywhere tonight. I think we'll just sleep in Gus’ old room until Terry and Griff have completely moved out. You don’t mind, do you?” Aaron asked.

“You are always welcome here,” Brian said. “If you don’t like that house just let us know and we can get someone in to make changes.”

“We may have a few but, dad, we just moved back from Africa.  Anything is bigger than those little apartments and this place is so big, we won’t be running into each other unless we want to.”

“So no honeymoon?” Justin asked.

“Terry offered us their yacht when they get it.” Julian continued, “I can’t wait to see Hawkin’s Island.”

“We are hoping to spend a couple weeks on the island and then some time on the yacht.  I haven’t seen Aunt Molly and Uncle Danial and their kids in too long. “I am hoping they will be home while I’m there. I know they are off island for school part of the time. We’ll probably be gone for about a month.”

“That sounds like a perfect honeymoon,” Justin commented. “You know we love you both.”

“We know, Dad,” Aaron smiled at his fathers.  “None of us have ever doubted you love us.”

It was about time for the ceremony.  Once people had started arriving, Brian and Justin, along with Julian’s parents, moved among the guests making everyone feel welcome. Joseph played violin when it was time for the ceremony to start and people sat down. Kevin and Gus walked down the aisle together and then turned to watch Victoria, with baby Kate in her arms, move down to join them.  At the end she handed the sleeping baby to Fi and moved to the side opposite of Gus.

Aaron and Julian had left the shelter of the house when the music had started.  “Aaron, I didn’t rush you, did I?” Julian asked, looking straight ahead, not wanting to meet his eyes.

“No, Julian. We had talked about getting married sometime and I have no doubt I want to be with you the rest of my life. I’ve been thinking about what Dad Brian said earlier.  I loved Teddy so much but when I am with you, there is a passion Teddy and I never had.”

They heard the music change and Julian crooked his arm and Aaron took it. “I love you, Aaron.”

“I love you, too, Julian.”

The ceremony was short but very meaningful.  Kevin spoke of the examples both men had in their families.  They knew what real love was and they knew that kind of love lasted a lifetime. Even if the love was lost, the heart and mind knew how to adapt and make room for a new love. He talked about the strength they had when they worked and lived as a team.

Then it was time for their vows. Aaron spoke first, “Julian, the friendship you offered me in Africa showed me what a genuine person you are. Even when I couldn’t admit to myself that I loved you, your patience and acceptance of me, as I am, gave me the confidence to love again.” Aaron smiled at Julian and then it was Julian’s turn.

“Aaron, I think I fell in love with you the day I saw you.  You drew me in with the first smile and as I watched you interact while you worked on the animals and interacting with the owners, your heart shone through. I know your heart has lost before and I don’t want you to forget Teddy. He helped make you who you are and I thank him for that.  Now, I  can’t wait to see what we will learn together in the next 50 or 60 years.”

When Julian had finished, Kevin asked them together, “Aaron and Julian, your love shines through with just a look. And the words you have already said answer the come questions asked at weddings. So please just answer this, Julian and Aaron, with your declaration of love, do you promise to always be open and honest in your life together, sharing the good and the bad, offering and accepting support from the other.”

After each of the men had said they would, Kevin smiled and said, “You may now kiss your husband.” Aaron and Julian kissed and turned to face the guests. “Where there were two households, let there be one home. Let the celebration begin.”

The grooms went row by row, talking to first their families and then the remainder of the guests.  Aaron introduced them to Julian as they went. Aaron made sure he told Julian enough about each of them that Julian would start to get to know his new neighbors and possible patients.

The sun was getting lower in the sky as everyone mingled as they ate appetizers and drank champagne. Other than Julian’s parents, all the guests were acquainted with each other and they made the Brits feel very welcome. 

As the sun sank below the mountains and sky turned to purples and orange, everyone staying for dinner moved inside. Aaron grabbed Julian’s hand as they entered the house and, not sure where Aaron was going, he followed Aaron up a back staircase he hadn’t noticed before. They ended upstairs near their bedroom and that was where Aaron was heading. Once they were inside the bedroom, Aaron shut the door and then wrapped his arms around his husband and kissed him, pressing the full length of his body against Julian’s. Julian pulled him even closer and deepened the kiss even more. By the time they separated they both were breathless. “You know we need to go join the dinner,” Julian said.

“I know. I just didn’t want to have to wait for that until we were alone later tonight,” Aaron said, laying his head on Julian’s shoulder as he regained his composure. 

“You know, we never did decide what last name we would use,” Julian commented.

“Do you mind if we each keep our own?” Aaron said, looking at Julian’s face to see his reaction.

“I don’t mind at all.  Before we have kids, we can decide what their last name will be but we both received our Doctorates using our last names. I think it is best to keep them.”

Aaron sighed, “I’m glad you agree.  I would hate to have to pick one of my last names. I know my dads would understand but it would be hard to decide what to do.”

“Hey, you in there?” Gus’ voice came through the door. “Dinner is ready and we need the happy couple.”

“We’re on our way.”

Gus opened the door and saw them, still in an embrace.  “Have I told you how happy I am that you two are going to be living here. I’ve missed you, Aaron.”

“I’ve missed you, too, Gus. I’m glad we’re going to be here to watch little Katie grow up.”

“Come on, guys, I smell Emma’s cooking.  I didn’t realize I was hungry until now,” Julian said as the three of them headed toward the stairs.

The rest of the evening was relaxing and enjoyable. Emma had outdone herself with the meal.  She had so many dishes that no one could try them all and then, out of nowhere, a wedding cake appeared. Jessi insisted they cut the cake so she could get pictures of them doing so.  They fed each other but they didn’t smash it in each other’s face like so many couples do. 

As everyone was eating the strawberry filled layer cake along with some white wine or coffee, Brian and Justin came over to Aaron and Julian. “How long do you plan to hang out around here?” Brian asked. “We would have been …”

“Brian, I don’t think these two need a picture in their head. Guys, we wanted to catch you before you slipped upstairs.  You two are going to use our suite until you move into your place.  Terry said he would be out the day after tomorrow and then we will have the place cleaned but you should be able to move there in a few days.”

“Dads, we don’t need to kick you out. The room upstairs is fine.”

“I wouldn’t argue with him,” Brian said. “You know when he has made up his mind it isn’t going to be changed. Your suitcases have been moved downstairs already.  If you want to use the hot tub, no one will be back there and of course the bathtub is also an option.”

Aaron hugged both of his fathers at once. “Thank you for all of this. This was all a lot of work with a four day warning.”

When Aaron stepped back, Brian and Justin each hugged Julian. “We are so glad to have you part of the family, Julian,” Justin said. 

Brian stepped up and in a commanding voice said, “Hey all, the happy couple is going to be leaving a party to start their married life together.” 

Before Brian could continue, Justin spoke up, “I think Aaron and Julian would like to say something to all of you.”

“We would,” Aaron started. “Thanks for coming to celebrate with us. Emma, thank you for all the work you did in the last few days.” Aaron and Julian walked over and each gave her a hug. “And to the Remingtons, thank you for such a warm welcome to the family.”

“Now you two have done everything expected. Get out of here,” Justin said. As Julian took Aaron’s hand they headed out of the great room with everyone behind them calling out best wishes.

Aaron and Julian strode into the bedroom and together walked to the bed and dropped back onto it. They lay silently for several minutes, both lost in their own thoughts. Aaron rolled on his side and looked at Julian, “So, what should we do now? It’s too early to go to sleep.”

Julian rolled to face him, “Um, I can think of a few things we could do.” He ran his hand over Aaron’s fly.

Aaron kissed him and said, “Oh, I hadn’t forgotten that. We could go out to the hot tub or try out that big slipper tub in the bathroom.” Aaron began to unbutton Julian’s shirt.

“Oh, I like the way you think, oh husband of mine. You start the water since I am not sure I know how to handle that fancy plumbing and I will find us something to drink in the mini bar.”

Brian and Justin sat in an overstuffed chair in the kitchen. The house was quiet for the first time all day. Brian had poured them each a glass of bourbon and Aaron had turned on some music before they sat down.

“Where did Jessi go?  The house wouldn’t be this quiet if she was still here.” Brian wrapped his free arm around Justin and kissed his temple.

“She took Victoria over to Fi and Gus’ house.  Victoria has spent quite a bit of time in Ireland and she and Fi wanted to talk more.” Aaron said before turning to Brian and putting his free hand on his cheek he brought his mouth to Brian’s. Parting Aaron’s lips with his tongue, it slipped in and danced with Aaron’s. They both managed to set their glasses down so both arms and hands were free to travel across skin and cloth. When Aaron sat back down and they both picked up their glass again.

“With Aaron married, we only have one child unattached,” Justin thought out loud.

“I’m not sure Jessi will ever settle down. She seems to be enjoying her life as it is.  I don’t think she has ever had to look for company. Our girl could always attract a crowd,” Brian laughed a bit.  “I sometimes wonder if we should worry about her.”

“We’ll always worry about our kids, even when they have kids.  That’s just the story of life.” Justin stood and reached for Brian’s hand and he stood up next to him.  Justin turned toward Brian and said, “Are you still glad we decided to do life together?”

“Justin Taylor-Kinney, I can’t fathom my life without you and our kids, and now a grandbaby. You and I realized years ago that we need each other to be who we are. That isn’t going to change.” After kissing Justin once more he said, “Do you think they chose the hot tub or the slipper tub?”

“The slipper tub. I would bet the ranch on that.”

“How come you are so sure of that?”

“Because right now, all I can think of is making love with you in that big tub.”

“I know it isn’t as exciting as the tub, but do you think making love in the bed will suffice?”

“Brian, making love with you anywhere, anytime, is all the adventure I will ever need.”

Aaron stood by the French doors overlooking the hot tub.  He and Julian had made love in the tub twice and then once more in bed before they had drifted off but it was now after 2:00 a.m. He had woken up and felt restless. Aaron was tired and could hear the soft snoring of his husband but that wasn’t keeping him awake.

He stared into the darkness and allowed him to think about Teddy for the first time that day. He could almost hear Teddy talking about the wedding.  Teddy had loved weddings. They had often talked about the wedding they would have, and as he thought about it, his marriage to Julian couldn’t have been more different than what they had talked about.

Aaron was so deep in thought he hadn’t noticed that Julian was no longer snoring. Aaron jumped just a bit but then leaned back against Julian. “I didn’t wake you, did I?”

Julian kissed his neck and said, “No, I just reached for you and found an empty void. Is it Teddy?”

“I hadn’t thought about him all day but when I woke and was restless he came into my mind. I hoped if I just got up I wouldn’t wake you.” Aaron turned in Julian’s arms and placed his hands on Julian’s face. Teddy was my past and you are my future.” Aaron pressed his lips against Julian’s and Julian held him tightly as they kissed. Aaron pulled back a little and yawned deeply. “Sorry, love. I guess I am ready to try to sleep again but I think I might need to...” Aaron pressed his pelvis against Julian’s.

“I'm sure I can help you out with that now, and for the rest of our lives.” Julian placed Aaron’s hands around his neck and then lifted him off the ground and moved the few steps to the bed. “I love you, Aaron.”

“And I love you.” Aaron pulled Julian down and no more words were needed.


The End

To be continued.
Simply written is the author of 42 other stories.

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