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reclaiming austin

Chapter 20

December 2005

So after I woke Austin up, we ate and showered. I called Mom, and then Mr. Riley to make sure everything was still on track… Today was really going to test our ability to function as a team… We got our signals down, the "Help, I want out of this conversation!" signal which was taking off the tie, the "your mother's asking way too personal things" signal which was fiddling with the sunglasses. I didn't tell him I'd always used this signal with boyfriends and she'd long ago figured it out, but I figured it would get her to back off even if I didn't catch it. And lastly, the "I'm freaking horny; meet me out front in five minutes." Signal; a coy catching of the others eye and a slight readjustment of the equipment.

We packed up all the food, about 8 thousand pies, Apple, Lemon, Pumpkin, Pears braised in Port with a sweetened mascarpone topping… he'd invented it, and it was freaking delicious. There were the Torte's and the various breads. Mrs. Tremere had him making this funky Italian bread called Pannatone that was wicked scrumptious. We pulled up to Mr. Riley's large ranch style house in South Deltona near Lake Monroe. When he opened the door to let us in, the smell of turkey, and all the other holiday foods drew us further in to the kitchen where an immaculate Mrs. Tremere stood among an entire kitchen full of greasy pots and simmering pans without so much as a smudge on her. Austin definitely needed to learn this secret as he couldn't make a PBJ without using ½ our pots and pans, 13 knives and then insisting we eat it off of three plates and coaster.

We set down a few of the pies and the deserts. After we'd greeted Mr. Riley and Mrs. Tremere we were introduced to Mr. Riley's daughter Megan and her friend Christian, and we knew all the other bank employees that were there so far, James came over and was chatting with us about Halloween but kept looking over at Christian, who was looking back. James was all spiffy in a dark grey cardigan with cranberry trim and a pair of deep cranberry corduroys, his dark hair and gorgeous Chinese eyes set it all off beautifully. Christian was quite a site in a Black silk button up with mother of pearl buttons; he had on white cowboy hat and what I assumed were some kind of leather cowboy boots with new jeans. I might have looked further except when Austin caught me studying him, I got quite the glare and attitude flare, I smiled deeply as I said,
"I was only looking, SOMEONE has gotten me all worked up on cowboy hats lately." He glowered at me and snorted derisively towards Christian whom had missed all the mini-Austin-drama. I smiled knowing Mr. Frisky was all worked up now…

"Easy my sexy gay cowboy," I said stroking his back, "I was just looking, just like when you were oogling Rachael." I caught his eye and he just sighed and relaxed, "I know you get jealous baby, and I swear to god I'm not thinking of actually doing anything, but I can't help looking. Come on, didn't you ever get flack when your girlfriends caught you looking?" I asked. He gave a mixed up nod and looked over at me.

"Yeah, but…" Austin protested.

"Yeah but???" I pushed against him with a smile.

When he looked over at me I grinned and readjusted myself discretely. Austin cracked up as I smirked.

"God you're a douche sometimes!" Austin grinned as he went over to see if Mrs. Austin needed any help. I decided to go help James and Mr. Riley set the table while Christian and another guy from work, Ian, went out to watch football. As Mr. Riley kept popping out to see what was going on, I finally gave him a basket of silverware and a bunch of napkins and told him to go count them out for place settings. Knowing Austin's straight penchant for football and all ball games, I was worried he would feel trapped in the kitchen, but I discovered he'd found a small 5" TV in the kitchen and was watching that, talking to Mrs. Tremere, and stirring a pot of gravy all at the same time, my little multitasker.

My Mother and younger brother Patrick came over about an hour later; Patrick went and found the other "guys" watching sports while Mom popped into the kitchen to assist. Mr. Riley's neighbor, an older man, about 70 I'd guess, came over, he was a Cuban but spoke passable English. It was quite a table when we were all seated, 3 gays, one Cuban, one French black woman, a cowboy, A Canadian Chinese guy, I felt so boring suddenly. When I pointed this out later Austin laughed and told me to relax, I might seem boring to the casual observer, but no one who knew me would ever make that mistake.

We were seated about one thirty, Mr. Riley sat at the head with Mrs. Tremere on his right, it was adorable and I'm glad I knew where she was obviously spending all her extra time.

Mr. Riley had us all hold hands, I had James on my left and Austin on my right, my mom was on his right. After a short prayer, Mr. Riley, Ivan was his first name, asked us to all speak up one at a time and say what we are most thankful for this past year,

Mrs. Tremere was first, she stood up and said, "I must confess, I have many blessings this past year, I have a dear family I treasure greatly," She looked at Austin and myself and then Mr. Riley. "I have good health, and I finally found a prodigy I can pass all my cooking secrets to. I have also discovered that even in the early evening of life, one might still find romance and a person to fill one's heart with joy." She squeezed Mr. Riley's hand as he blushed. "So I must thank all of you at this table who have played a part in this past year." She smiled serenely then sat down as Mr. Vacos stood up, you'll have forgive me as his accent and perhaps age were such, that part of his speech was unintelligible except for a few "Castro" curses. Finally he calmed down and said how happy he was to live in this fine neighborhood for many years, and to be an American, and to know Mr. Riley since he was a boy.

Then James stood and cleared his head a moment, then smiled and said, "Well, this is my first Thanksgiving as an American citizen, most Americans seemed surprised to learn we don't generally celebrate thanksgiving or the fourth of July," He grinned as a few of us laughed. "But I'm grateful to Mr. Riley for inviting me here for my first true American holiday, I'm grateful to him for hiring me and giving me a job, and to Alex and Ian, and Marika for all the help they've been at work, I'm very grateful for all the friend's I've made this past year." James gave my hand a squeeze to let me know it was my turn as he sat back down.

"Ok, All Y'all know how much I like to talk," As I knew they would, there was a great deal of laughter, especially from my mom and Mrs. Tremere, "This has been an insane past year, but lets see, where to start?" I looked around the table, "I want to thank My mom and brother for showing up, I'm grateful my brother and I didn't kill each other as kids, because he's a kindava neat brother now, and I'm grateful to my mother for just about everything, she's been an awesome mother who put up with more than 10 normal mothers do. Speaking of Awesome, I have the best neighbor any guy has ever had, Mrs. Tremere, as you said earlier, you're so much more than just a neighbor, you are a valuable part of my family. And Mr. Riley, even if you weren't a fantastic and as of late, understanding boss, you would be family simply by virtue of dating Mrs. Tremere and making her so happy. I'm just incredibly grateful that my friend Jason got me to try out for the Seattle scene and now I'm part of a thriving group. I'm grateful that a few days ago, I was able to reestablish a friendship with Jason and got him to forgive me." Then I took Austin's hand in both of mine as I took it from James. "But most of all, I'm grateful that I got my Austin back, I went through hell when he left, I put him through hell after that, I put all y'all through hell to hear it told." I said regressing into my suth'n. "But I had a lot of people telling me things like, ""You're a jerk, will you go and talk to him?"" And (in a bad French accent) ""I can not say for sure what the future holds, but love will find a way and I don't think that things are as you think."" Mrs. Tremere laughed openly. "I had straight guys telling me I was giving up too easy and lesbian country music listeners were telling me my music was even too depressing for them. Sooooo, I went and got him and…"I Looked in his sparkling eyes, "And I can't believe I wasted all that time being hurt. I'm eternally grateful that things seem to have worked out."

Austin stood up and pulled my hand to his lips and kissed it. "Ok, of everyone here, I think I have the most reason to be grateful, this past year has been…" He closed his eyes and shook his head wildly, "insane, everything has been turned upside down, I've gone from college sports star to…" He looked around a moment trying to figure out what to say, "To, someone who's actually happy and looks forward to coming home every night and not fighting with a crazy girlfriend, I mean, Alex fights, but we always end up laughing or… ummmm…" He blushed and so did a few of the other guys at the table including my brother Patrick. "It makes a world of difference being with someone who speaks the same language. And everything else that's happened, is all thanks to this amazing guy, from my new Mom," Austin said indicating Mrs. Tremere.

"Heeeeyyy, so what am I?" My mom said whacking his leg, the table laughed and Austin back peddled quickly.

"You're Alex's Mom, that makes you my Mother in law… and I'm grateful to you too" Austin said grinning.

"I'm grateful to all my new friends I met through Alex, I'm almost wetting myself I'm so excited about the new house we're getting." Austin kept speaking but I was suddenly aware of all the eyes of the many people there suddenly looking at us, whom I hadn't yet told anything about the house yet.

"And it seems only fair, that since Alex gave me my present early, that I do the same." My senses caught up to what he was saying as Austin suddenly knelt next me and took my left hand in both his. Ok, everyone else at the table saw what was coming, but I was still trying to think of what to say to everyone about the new house.
"Alex?" I heard Austin say as I turned to find him kneeling beside me. I looked down totally not comprehending what he was doing, I thought he'd dropped something and was handing it to it to me until I looked closer. It was a ring, a beautiful silver colored ring, which was touching since it showed Austin knew me well enough to know I hated that orange gold. It was set with a gorgeous blue green stone and had several diamond specks surrounding it. I looked at it as Austin placed it on my finger then looked up and asked,
"Alex, Heart of my life…" I looked down more confused than anything else.
"Austin?" I said weakly
Austin beamed and glowed with a light like the sun rising on the ocean. "Alex, my life would be over if it weren't for you, and we both know that's not exaggerating, but even beyond that, my life would be empty if you weren't there. There wouldn't have ever been that spark that makes my heart sing every day I wake up and see you there sleeping. That start makes every day with you a great adventure and a new exploration of a world I never knew existed." I was growing weak and choking up as I realized what was happening.

"Austin?" I squeaked out weakly as my lips began tremble and my eyes watered up. This got a few chuckles from the table, though that wasn't my intention this time.

"Alex, will you please do me the great honor of allowing me to marry you and hopefully learn to make you as happy as you've made me?" Tears were now sitting in my eyes, threatening to fall and cover my face, all I could do was nod yes and make little noises. When Austin stood and I saw his beaming face coming down to mine I totally lost it and cried in his shoulder as he held me and people talked, I have no clue what was being said, I only registered voices for a few minutes.

Austin just stroked my back and softly said' "It's ok baby, calm down"

As Austin hugged me he added quickly, "I'm grateful Alex nodded yes and didn't embarrass me and that I will have a wife soon as we set a date… after he's done crying."

I pulled back and tried to give him a menacing look; he just smiled at me and gave me that loving 'you're too damn cute' look.

Austin kissed me with a full kiss and I finally stopped crying, I was soo… sooo… speechless. I sat there a minute after Austin released me, trying to compose myself.
"How many of you knew he was planning this?" I asked.

Mrs. Tremere said, "Plotting dear, this was plotting." I wiped my eyes and looked from her to Mr. Riley, to Megan and Christian, and then to Patrick, everyone there knew.
"I can't believe none of you asses said anything to me, or that any of y'all could keep a damn secret." There was a great deal of good natured laughter.

"How long have you been planning this?" I asked Austin as he kissed my ring hand.

"Plotting" He reminded me with a smile. "Well, to ask you to marry me? About three weeks, doing it today? Since last night. I figured, my jealousy made you reveal your big secret present, I had been planning to wait till Christmas morning and only have one little present for you since obviously, even at a big discount, I won't be able to afford much more. But since your big present was revealed, I figured I'd go on and ask you now… It was risky after what I just put you through I guess… But I guess we really do speak the same language." I started crying again and I hated just being so… weepy, but it felt great having a big set of arms to hold me when I did.

"Well" My mother said standing up, "It's tough to follow that, but it gives me a great idea for what to be thankful for. I am eternally grateful that my son has brought another wonderful son to this family, Patrick, you may as well start being gay, cause I won't have a clue how to treat a daughter." There was a lot of laughter and Austin was gently stroking my face.

"I am grateful that Alex has found a guy who's not afraid to admit he made a mistake, and that loves him despite how others might react. I am grateful Austin will be my family and that Alex has a partner for life. I am grateful for Patrick's help and that he has been safe and sound and back home. I am grateful to Racine (Tremere) for taking such good care of my boys while they live near her; I guess this makes us in laws now. And to you Ivan, for hosting this dinner and taking such wonderful care of Alex while he works for you, he's always spoken very highly of you. I'm also grateful to my job for allowing me to do what I love and work with art."

Patrick spoke next; I had hardly seen him since he'd come back from out west.
"Well, Aside from Mom and Alex, I don't know many of you, but I'm grateful for my family, even Alex, and I'm grateful to all of you for allowing me into your holiday dinner. And Austin, welcome to the family, I'm grateful to you cause I need another guy on my side during family arguments and I need someone who can put Alex in his place when he acts up." He was laughing when he said it but I stuck my tongue out at him anyways, Austin just laughed,

"Sorry Bro, you put him in his place, the little guy is scary as hell when he gets mad, you should see all the times he's pinned me down."

"Hey, hey, hey, I don't wanna hear that!" Patrick said sticking his fingers in his ears and singing 'LALALA' more laughter from the table.

Ian was next, Next to Mr. Riley, he was the longest term employee at the branch.

"I'm grateful to Mr. Riley for my job and his great recommendations over the years, I'm grateful for being invited to his house for the past few holidays as I have no family locally, I'm grateful to my coworkers for all their help, Congratulations by the way Alex and Austin, I'm real happy for you both. I'm also grateful to my dad for helping to buy my own house finally." Ian sat back down with a smile

"Well," Christian said standing up and taking his hat off, "Like Patrick, I gotta say I'm a bit outta place here, I only know Megan from work and her dad from coming in sometimes, but she said I'd fit in, and I don't know how well I fit, but y'all are certainly a friendly and funny crowd. I guess I'm grateful to Megan cause when my parents found out about me, they kicked me out this past summer, and I was afraid I'd be alone this thanksgiving, but Megan heard people talking about me, and she invited me over, and said, 'Christian, you won't be the only guy there that likes guys, trust me!' So I'm grateful I trusted her."
James suddenly lit up realizing Christian was also coming out as gay, Austin gave me a kick under the table, and poor Patrick and Ian suddenly felt outnumbered.

"Anyway, I want to congratulate you two for finding your true loves, and I'm so grateful because it proves to me it can be done."

"My my," Megan said standing, "I am ever so grateful to you Mrs. Tremere, you have made my father very happy for the first time in years, and I am grateful to you Alex, for bringing them together, you must be some kind of cherub, because love seems to follow you around." She smiled at me. "And I am grateful that my friend Christian here isn't having an awful holiday like he expected, and that he got to share in your special proposal," she said to Austin. "I expect an invitation once y'all figure out a date and all that." She said giving us her business face. "And I am grateful for all this great food that's getting cold while I talk so I'm going to say 'AMEN' and then start passing the food.

And while she passed the food, Christian and Ian got bottles of Remy Martin Champagne and poured flutes on the table. I filled Austin's plate for him and Megan did the same for Christian. When all the glasses were filled Mr. Riley asked us to hold up our glasses for a toast.

"I suppose I should have prepared something last night to say, but I wasn't sure how this was playing out. Alex, Austin, I can't tell you how excited I am for what you are about to do. In my life I hope that this will one day be a legal marriage and not just a symbolic one. But I know this is a marriage of the heart. I wish you a long happy adventure together, with a minimum of sadness and a long history of wide eyed exploration of fun and joy. Salute'!!!"
And we were then saluted with a clinking of glasses.

The food was incredible, the turkey was like a gourmet feast, the leg of lamb was the first time I'd ever liked it, the potatoes were great, that's the one thing about my family, the Irish know how to boil and mash a potato and my mom had brought these as well as her famous cranberry crump, this great stuff with whole cranberries, pineapple, walnuts, black cherry gelatin and port… The Asparagus were tender; Austin's breads were fantastic… 'God, please grant me anorexia till Christmas or I'd be a little blond tadpole.' I thought.

After dinner we all stood around talking, almost everyone came over to see my non-traditional wedding ring. "It's a tanzanite with small white sapphires around it. In a white gold band" Austin was saying so knowledgeable now that he was a jeweler's apprentice. It was stunning, and I choked up and hugged him all afternoon. We had desert a little earlier then we wanted to because Austin and I had made plans to be at Ryan and Michael's for their evening party. On a hunch I called to see if it would be ok if we invited James and Christian to join us. I was given carte blanche to invite anyone I wanted and Ryan stressed this wouldn't be a bacchanalian free for all like Halloween. So Austin and I invited James and Christian to drive down with us.

Everyone raved over Austin's Pear desert and his apple crepes. Mrs. Tremere was positively glowing with pride at him. All the deserts were good, but those braised pears in Port wine sauce were addictive.

Before we left Marika showed up and had some desert with us and came over and carefully inspected my finger.

"Austin, baby, I sure hope you got another ring for the wedding honey, cause this is one expensive engagement ring." She said winking at me. Little did Austin realize, but by marrying me, he was now fully obligated to share all the teasing I had once weathered alone.

"Girl Shuuush!" Austin snapped in his best drag voice! Everyone roared and I had to admit, he handled it better than I would have hoped. Marika was holding her one hand up to god begging for help as she snorted and choked she was laughing so hard.

Marika kept hugging me and I suddenly knew without doubt, that between Michael, Michael, Marika, and Natasha, I wouldn't have a single say in what kind of wedding I had. I realized that unless I got someone who out voted them I'd have no say and could look forward to four of my closest friends either ganging up on me, or refusing to talk to one another, Possibly both. So while Austin kept Marika busy, I went over and said,
"Mrs. Tremere? Please tell me you'll help with my wedding, otherwise my fairies and faerie princesses are going to plan it." She smiled her serene all knowing smile.

"Of course mon cher, whom do these children think they are? Your mother and I will plan it out and let you know when we are through." She then patted my head and gave me a dismissive kiss. Why did I suddenly have the strongest urge just to elope? Karma was gonna bite my ass I just knew it. I wondered which camp Patrick would join, because he above all others, had reasons to get me back.

The others were all staying, I think Patrick was interested in Megan, and it looked like she may be interested in him as well, or perhaps just being polite, Ian was helping with the kitchen and the grown ups were having a great time telling stories. Mr. Riley told us to just take one car and leave the others here as it was basically on the way home. So we all loaded into my jeep and Christian pointed out he'd driven a big black jeep, mmmmmm a cowboy hat wearing, jeep riding, gay boy… I started smirking because I knew Austin was reading my mind by the look he was giving me, so he just reached around and took Christian's hat and put it on his own head then put on his Oakley's and gave me a smug look. I laughed out loud as we suddenly shot up the dirt drive. It wasn't till we were in Ryan's front yard that Austin handed Christian's hat back. But Austin decided to get my weak spot, he got an old black A&F hat out of the glove box and put it on backwards and then threw his arm around me. "Come on guys, the wife and I are heading in." Austin said.

"HUSBAND!" I said loudly,

"You wanna argue semantics"

"You wanna get any touch tonight?" I asked, he stopped and got in front of me.

"Yeah, like you could go without for a night."

"Hey!" I protested, I'm way more disciplined, I could go longer."

"And I'm twice as competitive." Austin said with a smirk.

Christian was about to say something when James stopped him and used his fingers to count to four then Austin who didn't see this started laughing and said,

"I can't believe we're arguing about this, neither one of us could go 12 hours without getting off." He said laughing and I started to laugh both at his comment, and James knowing us so well.

"HEY, What the hell???" I said suddenly seeing a bunch of crap behind my jeep. As I got closer I could see it was a short sting plastic cups and Barbie doll heads and a sign that said "Just married" on the back bumper.

"So she did know!" I said giving Austin a dirty scowl. He laughed and said "yeah, but their were four of us on board" At which I started laughing too.

"See Christian, it's the rule of five, they can't fight for more than five seconds without either joking or turning it into some type of sex game." James said taking Christian's hand very forcefully and leading him to the front door.

"I like that rule!" Christian, who was 6'2" said to James, who barely cleared 5'7". James definitely didn't act shy when he was interested.

Inside, I gave a big hug to Ryan and Michael and was about to introduce Christian when Austin grabbed my hand and held it in front of Michael,

"OH MY GOD!!!!!!! DOES THAT MEAN???" Michael screamed almost twisting my arm as he spun it over to Ryan to see. "WHAT? WHEN???" Michael was screaming, pretty much as I had done recently with both Ryan and Michael, and Phil and Korma.

"Austin asked me at dinner tonight." I blushed as Austin got all manly and hugged me tightly. I'd be such a liar if I pretended I didn't love that feeling.

My Michael, the tall cranky one suddenly appeared to find out what all the screaming was about.
"Ohhh, it's you two, Austin, I told you to leave the pets at home!"

I was about to say something when the other Michael turned on his heels and snapped.
"SHUSH! He just got engaged." Tall Michael stood there a second baffled, then he saw the ring, then he looked up and saw Austin grinning like a lottery winner.

"OH MY GOD!!!!!! ALEX!!!!!!!!!!!" And then he grabbed my hand almost yanking it off as he looked at the ring. James introduced Christian to the other Michael and Ryan as I was passed around like a toy. Michael started dragging me into the living room when he stopped and told me to grab Austin. So like a little train we were dragged into the living room, which was full of people, and standing against the wall wearing a beautiful cream shirt, was Jason. I stopped suddenly and took Austin and brought him over to Jason, they recognized each other and I wanted to be sure all the tensions were gone before anyone said anything.

"Austin, I'd like to introduce you to my ex, and very good friend, Jason, Jason, this is my Fiancée' Austin.

Austin stopped and stared a moment and stuck out his hand to shake Jason's. Jason smiling looked down at it and stepped up past it and gave Austin a huge hug.
"Congratulations big guy, I really hope you two will be as happy as you look right now." He held the hug on Austin a few seconds until Austin hugged him back, Michael and I gave each other knowing looks and smiles.

"Hi Jason, thank you, I uh… Sorry, a little shocked to see you here, sorry. But um, thanks." Austin was smiling back,

"Actually, you'll never believe who called me up to ask me over." Jason said.

"Michael?" I asked, meaning tall Michael.

"No, I did." Ryan's deep voice said from behind me. "After your little dig the other day, I did some thinking, and called your Michael, and we talked, so I figured, if you and he can be friends, and Michael is vouching for him too… Both Michaels actually." Ryan said with a grin as his Michael came up behind him. "Well, Leopards can't change their spots, but since when have you known a gay man with such a limited wardrobe?"

We all laughed at that and my hand was passed around again like an STD in a high school band room.
Brandon came up then and we all hugged and he got very excited.

"Billy, c'mere, see what this guy did for my friend?" He said slowly pointing at Austin then me. When Billy approached with a blank face, Brandon Signed to him. Then Billy lit up and gave me a hug, he mouthed "Congratulations." to me. I asked Brandon how to sign thank you, and tried my best to do what he'd shown me. Billy said, "You're welcome" in the flat tone people who have been deaf from birth use. I looked directly at him and asked slowly, "can you read lips, or is it just sign that you understand?"

"No, I read lips pretty well." He said. "If I don't understand something, Brandon or Michael can translate."

"Oh, OK, I'll try to look at you when I speak but please forgive me if I forget." I said back and he smiled. Then My Michael made a few gestures in sign which made Billy and Brandon crack up.

"What'd you say?" Austin asked Michael.

"He said not to worry because I never shut up so he wouldn't miss anything." I said with a scowl.

"I didn't know you could understand sign language," Brandon said.

"I don't, I just know what that ass is going to say." Which made everyone else laugh.

Brandon Billy and I had a nice conversation, it turned out that Billy had approached Brandon at the MCC Joy church after he saw Brandon sign to a friend of his. Billy was a real personality; you could see the practical joking in his eyes. Billy had black hair and that pale white milky Irish skin. He stood maybe 5'10" and while not fat in the least, there was a slight weight to him but his personality just filled up the room. The three of us talked and I noticed James and Christian chatting away and getting very close… I was happy, maybe love was following me around… it certainly had struck all around my friends, gay and straight alike. And 'I had just been hit with the thunderbolt' I thought as I broke out in a wide grin. Brandon and Billy both started laughing as they knew why.

"I wouldn't need anyone to tell me why you were smiling Alex, I think I would know just from you face." Billy said laughing in his monotone way.

I looked at my ring and then looked back at Billy, "You'd better be careful, the last few weeks, anytime someone gets near me they get proposed to or meet the man of their dreams." Then I looked at Jason and Michael, who were walking by,
"Except poor Jason, he got screwed big time." I said loud enough for them to hear, Brandon signed something to Billy quickly and they both started to laugh.

"Eat me Stewart little!" Michael said not even stopping.

The door bell rung a few minutes later and as Brandon had taken Billy out back, Ryan had disappeared, and Michael and Austin were in the kitchen finishing dinner, I answered the door, and came face to face with a pink haired drag queen that could have looked my Michael in the eyes. She was HUGE. She looked down on me and put her massive hand out.

"Hello, I'm Chlamydea Bo-Tox, and this is my date, Louise." She said stepping back to show me a tall well dressed black man, the way she pronounced Louise and Bo-Tox both sounded French so I assumed he was either from New Orleans, or Haiti, I smiled and welcomed them both in and said I wasn't sure where Ryan had gone off to.

I was just closing the door when I saw a woman and guy running up,
"Wait" she was yelling, when she got close I realized it was Melissa, Ryan's sister who had been dating Dan until she cheated on him. Well, she'd always been nice to me and she's the reason I knew Ryan.

"Melissa!!!!!!" I said stepping out to hug her.

"Alex!!!!!!!!" She said hugging me back, then she turned and said,
"Alex, this is my boyfriend Russ. Russ, this is an old friend Alex."
Russ was adorable, a rough looking reddish brown haired guy with tight curls on his head and a goatee and a chest like an oilrig but better defined.

"Melissa, why don't you go say hi to Austin, I'm taking this fine man to get a drink." I said grabbing his arm and watching his panicked face as I took him and lead him through the house to get a drink.

"So what are you having gorgeous?" I said being as gay as I could to watch him squirm.
"Ummm, Captain and coke please?" I fixed him the drink and started laughing.

"uhhh, what?" He said looking at his chest to see if he'd spilled something.

"I gotta apologize," I said laughing, "I'm not used to seeing guys who could crush me with two fingers acting like I was Conan the barbarian on steroids." I said making myself an apple martini. "I'm not so forward usually, but for some reason I…" An arm went around me and knew it was Austin.

"He just likes to freak straight boys out and hopes they'll date him." Austin said scowling at me.

"No, that was just you," I kissed his scowling nose, "Normally I just like to scare them." I said.

"Well uhhh, please don't take it personally, I'm just not…" Russ began saying but Austin held his hand up,

"Listen bro, you're cool, this little terrorist does stuff like that to everyone. If he gets too bad, just grab me or one of the really tall guys and tell them, or better yet, tell your girlfriend." He laughed; Russ began laughing too, his tension released.

Suddenly Russ looked back at Austin with big eyes, "Dude, you're… you're Austin Camble!" He said excitedly. "I used to watch you play up in U of F." He was all smiles and shaking Austin's hand.

"Thanks, yeah, that was me!" Austin said dismissively. I could tell Russ was excited to get to talk to sports star, well a former star, so I left them alone and went and found Melissa talking with my Michael and Daniel, Ryan's very horny straight younger brother.

"Well Danny, why didn't you bring a date? You knew this was gonna be a mostly gay crowd."

"Wait, I thought we were all gay" Michael said looking around suddenly.

"Honey, several of us are straight, don't let that cramp your style too much." Melissa said patting Michael on the arm.

"Honey, bedding straight guys is his style." I said smirking as I walked up.

"Oh whatever Mary, you've had more straight dick in you than a sorority girl at her first kegger."

"Austin doesn't count; turns out he was riding the fence long before I came along."

"Oh god! That's right!!! I heard about you and Dan at that party!" Melissa said suddenly patting Michael's arm and totally changing the conversation. Michael and I looked at each other a moment and the he smiled.

"And Russ looks like he's about ready to be brought over too" Michael said indicating the cozy conversation Austin and Russ were in.

"Excuse me; I have to go remind Austin that he proposed to me today!" I said turning and walking over to plop down in Austin's lap.

"Hi baby." I said laying my head back on him. Russ just smirked.

"Russ, Michael and Melissa are arguing over there about who's taking you home… Don't wanna confuse you, but even though she has a vagina, Michael gives way better head according to her ex." Russ looked at me strangely then over to them and then at Austin,

"How much better?" We all laughed as he sauntered over to see what the animated discussion was about, I just laid back on Austin and took a sip of my drink.

"Were you jealous?" Austin teased as he poked me in the side and got me to jump.

"Well yeah, you're my finance and you're hanging around with that stud… it ain't right, I shoulda been with one of you at least." I said grinding my ass on his crotch.

"At least?" Austin said in surprise.

"Well yeah, don't you think I woulda been the perfect filling in a Uof F studboy sandwich?"

"No way, faggots are only served with one stud, open faced." Austin said leaning up suddenly to kiss my neck.

"Yeah, but who do I choose?" I asked teasing him.

I was suddenly rolled over and found myself looking up at a very stern Austin with intense blue fiery eyes. "ME, you always choose ME! From now on, that's your ONLY choice!" Austin said looking down on me… I looked up at him and suddenly felt small and weak,

"God you're hot!" I said melting under his fire.

Austin smiled and moved me aside so I could get on top of him again,

I held my ring out at arms length and let it catch in a sunbeam coming through the windows.

"This is sooo beautiful Austin, but what made you pick something so untraditional?" I asked curiously.

"Well Hon, this whole thing is non -traditional and you're an artist's son, and to be honest, you aren't the Norman Rockwell picture of tradition most southern boys are… Besides, I just saw it and kept thinking about you and…" He laced his massive fingers with mine and brought them back to his lips. "And I suddenly thought, it would be a perfect wedding band for you."

I melted even further in my heart for this boy…

"I need to get you a ring or band now too" I said softly, several guests were already giving us smiles and smirks.

"No you don't Alex, god damn; you're getting me a fucking house!"

"Let me rephrase that baby, I need to band you so that everyone else knows they better keep their fucking hands off you or I'll break their arms and claw their eyes out." I said it so calmly and sweetly it took a moment for Austin to start laughing.

"Easy tiger…" Austin purred in my ear, I suddenly rolled over on him and he wrapped me in his huge arms and we kissed a few moments before Michael's voice rang out,

"RYAN! They're at it again!!!!! "

It was straight boy Russ, who actually said,
"Awww, they're so cute though." Which got a round of laughs. Then Melissa said in a very loud voice,


Which got more laughter though in our position, I could only guess why.

Jason stepped out of the kitchen a moment later and said "If you'll start getting to the table, we're gonna have a buffet and let you find your own places to sit."

Then my Michael, or smart ass Michael as he was getting to be known, said, "Gay couples can share laps or seats, straight couples have to keep a respectable distance, we ARE trying to enjoy our meals…"

"Jason, Michael's trying to get Russ to sit in his Lap!" I yelled out to loud laughter.

"That's ok; Daniel's sitting in my lap." Jason called back from the kitchen.

"HEY!" Dan called out.

"Straight boys are on the pool deck, straight girls are in the back bedroom, Drag queens are in the dining room, and Gay boys get the rest of the house!" Ryan announced loudly carrying out a huge platter of turkey.

"Oh, and Michael, as usual you get the bathroom with the hole in the wall." Ryan added to huge laughter as he walked past my Michael.

"Ah, change of plans then, straight guys right outside the bathroom in the master bedroom!" Michael said loudly while giving Ryan two middle fingers. This got a lot of chuckling and I was very proud of Ryan.

So after our sarcasm appetizer with a side of witty repartee, we started to line up and assemble our plates of massive excess. People had brought so many extra sides and deserts. That some hadn't even found their way into serving dishes yet and the table was stuffed so full of food, the center piece was sitting on a book case. 3 kinds of potatoes, 4 kinds of cranberries, 8 vegetable dishes, 4 stuffing's, 2 sweet potato/yam dishes, A bowel of spiced apples, cornbread, Rolls, Austin's breads, 2 kinds of gravy, some empanadas, The 25 pound Turkey of course, a honey spiraled ham, and someone brought a platter of stuffed acorn squash. This of course hadn't even taken into account the forty of so deserts waiting in the kitchen.

Someone had also made this fantastic mulled cider using cranapple juice and mulling spices. It was delicious.

After piling a plate with a small amount of everything and creating a mountain, I went and gabbed our chair back then snuck out a few folding TV trays for Austin and I and two other people to use. I then left our stuff and got the mulled drinks as Austin was still in line.

Except for comments about the amount of food on the table or that someone had just eaten, the conversation was much tamer during dinner this time, certainly there were no marriage proposals nor giving of thanks this time, partially because the number of people was more then double.

After dinner, several people including Austin, Jason and Chlamedea, helped clean the dishes and table, it was amazing how quickly this could be done by a small group of gay men. It would have taken a housewife and her mother weeks to move the amount of food and dishes these guys whisked away. Fairy magic is real, always believe this!

Although the deserts were all moved out, pretty soon after the table was cleared, we all decided to wait a while to dig in, a few went out to smoke, some went to their cars to smoke other stuff, Austin, the Michael's, Ryan, Jason and I sat inside talking about the upcoming weddings. And James and Chris were out by the hot tub talking.

"Bitch, I better fucking be your best man!" Michael said to me,

"Actually, I was going to ask you Michael" I said with a big smirk. "To be my maid of honor!" Which got a good chuckle.

"So when's it gonna be?" The good Michael asked. Austin and I looked at each other and shrugged.

"Hadn't discussed that yet." Austin said, "After Christmas at least… too many weddings pre-Christmas." He smiled at Ryan.

"Yeah, besides, we gotta save and stuff to afford a wedding, shit, we're getting a new place that's way more expensive and…" Austin just shook his head.

"We'll be ok baby," I said holding my hand out to look at the ring. "But how the hell did you afford this?" I asked suddenly thinking of it.

"Well, I got a huge discount on it, and when I said why I wanted it, I got an additional discount on it. Plus I'm making monthly payments for a while." He said.

"A while?" Jason asked.

"Yeah, like 35 years…" Austin laughed.

"Well it's beautiful." Jason said taking my hand and looking closer.

"Yeah, why'd you waste your money? You coulda just had his ear tagged like they do to those endangered animals in Africa." Mean Michael said before sipping his beer.

"Is that your breath Michael, or did someone put a bowel of vulture vomit near the air intake for the ac?" I said in response.

"Oh no you Di'in!" Michael protested as he turned to face me.

"God, will you gargle a skunk or something to cover up that breath?" I protested facing the goon.

"Listen here speed bump!" Michael said back as he advanced and we started facing off. No one was taking us serious and had actually formed into an audience for rating our zings. Everyone except Austin and Jason, Jason had stood up and reached his hand down to Austin. Austin looked up confused.


"I just figured that since our dates are spending all their time flirting with each other in front of us, that we could go to a spare room and play hide the salami or Jenga or something." Everyone cracked up but Austin reached out and took Jason's hand.

"Sounds good to me Jas, these two will be at this for hours yet." And the two had their arms around each other as they left the room.

Michael and I looked at each other and glared,
"Your boyfriend just ran off with my boyfriend." Michael complained to me.

"Excuse me, you mean my ex-boyfriend just ran off with my fiancé?" I said standing up.

I reached my hand down to give Michael a hand up "Do they realize how much we can hurt them?" Michael said putting his arm around me and following after the errant boyfriends.

I walked in and grabbed Austin and spun him around to face me, while Michael swooped in and lifted Jason right off the floor.

"Pardon me boys; did you realize that the two bottoms you just walked out on have some pretty mean fangs?" I asked scowling.

"Hell Alex, we got god damned Saberteeth!" Michael said trying not to laugh as he attempted to look at Jason with best mean glare.

"Does this mean you care more about us then you do that silly fighting thing you do that alienates us?" Jason asked, it was said in a funny way, but his point was clearly valid.

"Jason, Love… that arguing with Michael? That ain't fighting, what I do to the guy who tries to get between me and Austin? That won't be so much fighting either, but it will be bloody!" I said smiling as I steered Austin back towards Ryan and his Michael.

"You're so tough!" Austin said scooping me up like a bride and kissing me.

"Now you listen here Mr. Camble!" I said in my deep tough voice. "You don't walk out when you think I'm not paying to attention to you, you're a damned big boy, you pick me up… Like this!" I said indicating the hold he had on me. "And then you say 'hey, I'm your husband and I want attention!' and then you carry me off like a civilized caveman! Got it?"

Austin was all smiles but tried to act contrite when he said, "Yes sir!" Then before I could say anything else he gave me a long deep kiss.

"Yeah, what he said," Michael said to Jason.

"Ok now that Pebbles and Bam Bam, and Scooby do and… uhh…. Astro have made up, Deserts are on." Ryan said. He was getting a little too good at these quips; Michael and I would have to put him back in his place soon. But just then Austin grinned at me,
"Pebbles!" He chuckled kissing me as he carried me to the dining room.

Good Michael and Chlamedia had set the table with 10,000 pies and deserts, I identified 9 versions of Apple pies, three Pumpkin, a mince meat, a peach, a coconut custard, a plain custard, two sweet potato, a key lime, and Austin's Pears in Port with mascarpone cheese and an almond whipping cream in a puff pasty. And his Apple crepe Torte with a honey cream. There were also banana breads, pumpkin breads and a carrot cake.

As Jason said when he saw it, "Bali will get rich off of this meal!"

Michael was just setting pots of coffee and hot chocolate and that warm cider out to serve with the million deserts. Even with a tiny slice of several of the pies, there was hardly any room to get into Austin's creations, but I made room, he was turning into quite a baker. The apple crepes were great, but as he said, how do go wrong with apples and cinnamon? But the Pears in Port sauce with Marscapone cheese and puff pastry and almond flavored whipped cream? WOW!!!!!! Everyone was raving and it ran out before some people could try it…

I was sitting on the floor between Austin's legs as we ate desert when Daniel, Ryan's straight younger brother came over and sat on Austin's leg facing my direction.
"You made this?" He asked Austin indicating the pears.

"Yeah, last night." Austin nodded smiling.

"You cook like this?" He said again with wide eyed wonder as he savored another bite.

"Yeah, not like this every day though," Austin said indicating the deserts.

"Forget that other guy, marry me Austin, feed me like this and I'll learn to be gay for you." Daniel said savoring another bite. Austin started laughing then looked down at me,

"Well thanks Daniel, but I'm thinking you better move before my husband jabs a fork in your foot."

"Crotch!" I corrected him.

Daniel jumped up laughing, "Jesus, Ryan was right about watching the little guys." Daniel said leaping away.

"ME!" I corrected him, "Ignore the other little guys." I used my toughest growly voice.

"Will you muzzle your Chihuahua?" Michael called out from somewhere.

"Hey Ryan, did you set those mint flavored dog biscuits out I got for Michael's decomposing breath problem?" I called back loudly.

"Do I hafta separate you two before I finish my desert?" Austin growled above me.

"No sir" I said lying against his leg. Apparently Jason had interceded with Michael as well because he never replied either.

A few minutes later James, whom I'd seen very little of since arriving, came in and motioned for me to follow him. I excused myself from Austin and followed James outside.

"Alex, I gotta ask your advice here, hey?" James asked confused.

"Shoot." I replied.

"Ok, so things with Chris are going good I think, he's an awesome guy and… I think he's ready to come out even…"

"But???" I offered,

"Not really a 'But' it's just that Roger stopped by tonight and invited me over the rest of the weekend, but Christian has to go home tonight…" James left it like that.

"And you want my advice?" I asked.

"Yeesssssss….." James whined boyishly.

"Well, it seems to me, that you have to make a choice here, you know that no matter what you tell him, if you leave him now, Christian's going to be hurt and think you're blowing him off for a better prospect right?" James closed his eyes and nodded.

"But that if you think he's worth investing some time in, you might get a much better return then a long weekend at the bars. Besides, maybe you can take him out to the bars tomorrow night." James looked up with a grin.

"It all depends on who you want to be and what you hope to get." I said smiling at James knowing he'd already made up his mind.

"You're pretty good at this." James said hugging me.

"Yeah, just don't hit me with any, 'these two great guys both like me what do I do now' questions, ok?" I said rolling my eyes.

"Seems to me you're the rare guy it all worked out for." James winked at me before running off to find Christian.

Austin was inside talking with Michael and Jason, I walked up and put my arms around Austin and Jason both and looked at Michael with a smile. "I'm so glad we worked this all out." I said it and squeezed both Jason and Austin closely.

"I was just saying that to Jason actually," Austin said. I looked up to Jason and he nodded agreement.

"He thanked me for taking such good care of you while he couldn't, and for forgiving you, since you were so upset by what happened." Oddly, Michael didn't try and make a cutting remark.

"So you two are ok?" I asked slowly, unsure if I had a right to expect it.

"We're ok with each other, and I'm happy for you, I really am… but it might take a little a while before I can see you with anybody else without… you know…" He shrugged his shoulders.

"Ok, that's more than fair Jason…" I released Austin and gave Jason a huge hug. A moment later a large body pressed against mine and also hugged Jason over me, and then I was shocked when another body, behind Jason grabbed around all of us and squeezed us together tightly.

"Can't breath!" I gasped out melodramatically. We all laughed but it was several moments later when the hugs began to withdraw.

"I'll get used to it Alex, I have to… I just can't tell you how soon." Jason whispered above me as he hugged me back.

"Come on Michael." Austin said from behind me, and Michael answered him,
"Yeah, let's go make babies while these two get all gay and mushy on each other."

I felt Jason's arm reach out and grab Michael as I was released from the hug, I quickly caught Austin and grabbed his ear in what My Mother and grandmother called "the Nuns Pinch" Which is a particularly painful way of grabbing the top of an ear and pinching it in a VERY painful way that is hard to break free of.

"Come on Trouble!" I said to Austin as I lead him off by his ear through the house to get some Coffee. People laughed as I hadn't released his ear yet and we must have looked hysterical me (David) leading Him (Goliath) through the house by an ear.

The rest of the evening was wonderful and dreamy, a few more deserts since we would all be fasting till Christmas, or possibly Easter, a few shots of this or that made into our drinks, and we mostly spent the rest of the evening lounging about talking. Some of the younger crowd set out to go to the Parliament house or Southern nights, but most of us were fine where we were. I sat on Austin's lap in a lounge chair snuggled tightly to my future husband. Christian and James had come inside and were off in a corner talking and laughing, Christian had a very loud and heartfelt laugh. Ryan and good Michael were relaxing on the love seat sipping Coffees with Irish cream, Jason had made some spiced cider with a kick for he and my Michael…We left a little past 12 as Austin had stayed up all night baking, and was falling asleep after one spiked coffee. So I drove James and Christian to their vehicles, and took my sleeping husband home.

I got Austin into Bed and sat up looking at my ring and drinking glass after glass of water. Dreaming about what kind of wedding I wanted. Then I crawled in bed and snuggled into Austin's body, which wrapped me without ever waking up.

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