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Chapter 77 – Tying Knots

Austin sucked in a breath of disbelief as she stared at herself in the three way mirror. The slim fitting shirred satin bodice clung to her body, accentuating her natural curves and enhancing her bust line. Shifting to the side, she bit down on her bottom lip as the full tulle skirt flowed with each gentle moment, reaching with one gloved hand to adjust the veil that fell past her waist. Eyeing her figure critically, she glanced at Cheyanne's reflection on the mirror. It was perfect. She could not believe her luck. Finally, after what seemed hours of searching and trying on countless gowns, she had found one that she loved. But there was one opinion that she needed before making her final decision. "What to you think, Chey?" she murmured, the wispy white veil trembling with each breath.

“Well…” Cheyanne trailed with a small smile, stepping up to gingerly tuck away one of Austin’s dark locks behind her ear. Her smile grew wider as she stepped back, wrapping her arms around the fabric sling containing her sleeping daughter. The women had taken their first day in Las Vegas to do some wedding shopping for Austin. At first, Austin had just wanted Cheyanne to come, but invited Vivian and Josephine in the last moment. After all, they would be bridesmaids, so it was necessary for them to come. Though, Cheyanne had taken the focal point in Austin’s decisions and Josephine had managed to keep Vivian’s outlandish personality to a dull purr, letting Austin and Cheyanne bond like they were supposed to over the event. “You’re living up to Kevvy’s nickname… You look like a princess, Austi.”

"This full skirt doesn't make my ass look too fat?"

“The full skirt makes you look elegant,” Cheyanne contradicted appropriately, though she hadn’t been much for formal attire, much less feminine attire. Though, she kept her comments about the stuffiness of femininity silent, knowing this was important to Austin.

"Do you realize this dress costs almost as much as the down payment on our house?" Austin questioned again, pushing the veil back over her shoulder as she turned to look at Cheyanne. "Pretty Boy will have a freaking cow if I spend this much of his money--"

“Actually he gave me his special credit card and made me promise to make sure you got everything your heart desired, no matter what the price,” Cheyanne interrupted gently, one hand leaving the underside of the sling where she was patting her daughter’s behind to produce the plastic card. “It’s the only wedding you’re ever going to have Austi… It’s supposed to be everything you want…”

"But…" Austin trailed softly, casting another look at herself in the mirror. "This is a lot of money to spend on a dress that I'll only wear--"

"On your wedding day, and then for the rest of your lives together you'll pull it out on your anniversary. Then one day you can hand it down to your daughter on her wedding day," Vivian put in softly, stepping forward to smooth the veil.

“Which means you better go get the alterations prepared and give them an address of where they’ll be sending this lovely dress to… Because you have more dresses to pick out,” Josephine suggested with a grin as she bounced Katie on her knees.

“I get to put on a pretty dress soon?” Katie sighed loudly.

"Bet you a dollar to a donut she hikes her skirt up to her knees at the wedding and attacks Bay with her basket," Vivian murmured to Cheyanne as Austin stepped back into the dressing room to change into her normal clothes.

"I heard that," Katie announced, poking out her bottom lip. "Blondie is a mean, cootie-covered brat…"

“Darlin’ may have cooties, but he ain’t mean,” Cheyanne chided softly as she moved back to sit beside Josephine on the plush chairs. She shifted to hold Olivia within the sling as she glanced sideways to the beautiful little girl. “Y’know, I think you should give him a chance. He loves to color and he loves snuggling with stuffed animals. I bet he’d even play Barbies with you if you asked…” Cheyanne grinned impishly toward the little girl as she reached out to tickle her. “You just need all your cootie shots first!”

"Allie gived me cootie shots! 'Cause Daddy Dew-Dwop said I need shots 'fore I could play with Allie… Blondie'll play Barbies with me?" Katie asked hopefully, giggling as she squirmed playfully to get away from Cheyanne's hand.

“If you ask him nicely instead of hurting him, yes,” Cheyanne agreed with a nod, grasping Katie’s fingers to kiss them affectionately.

"He picks on me 'cause I don't got a Daddy…"

"You have a Daddy, sweetie," Josephine reminded her gently, causing Katie's eyes to light up with excitement.

“We marry Dew-Dwop tonight!” Katie squealed.

"KATIE!" Josephine cried, clapping a hand over her daughter's mouth as Austin bolted from the dressing room, clutching the elaborate gown in front of her.

"Y'all are getting married?!"

“No wonder Drew-Drop was so excited about having no concert tonight…” Cheyanne trailed with a soft smile, leaning to offer Josephine a congratulatory hug. “I think I need to charge some kind of fee for helping him find the woman of his dreams.”

"He's going to have Katie as a step-daughter… Isn't that payment enough?" Vivian remarked wickedly as Austin backed into the dressing room once more.

"Vivie!" Josephine cried, shaking her head. "I'm so sorry that your boyfriend's child brings out the worst in my daughter--"

"Let's not forget the punch she hit Kevin with," Vivian interjected. "So… Details! When? Where? And why haven't you told us anything?"

“We were just talking about it last night…” Josephine confessed with a soft smile as Katie peeked inside the fabric sling to speak with the slowly waking Olivia. “We decided that we didn’t want anything big and I suggested Las Vegas… And, it just kind of happened. So, tonight, we’re going out for a nice dinner and we’re stopping by one of the nicer chapels to exchange vows. Nothing fancy. No crowds… Well, except Cheyanne and Howie… I was hoping I could steal you to get nice dresses at some point today?”

“Huh? Me?” Cheyanne blanked.

Austin came out once again, this time dressed in her jean shorts and white camisole. "Why sound so surprised. After all, you're the one who dragged them--I mean, got them together in the first place. It's only right that you should be there," she explained with a smile.

"We have to get Jo slamming for a Vegas wedding!" Vivian declared.

"I don't want Mommy to slam…" Katie trailed in confusion.

“Me either…” Cheyanne added warily.

Josephine glanced over at Vivian. "I swear, if you try to deck me out in some trashy looking mini skirt--"

"Me? Would I do such a thing?"


“Just be thankful if she doesn’t put you in black or leather… Though, I guess you can’t wear white considering Drew-Drop was concentrating on a bra strap during your first date,” Cheyanne trailed, her sapphire eyes widening with remembrance. “Do you know that’s the first time he’s ever flicked me off?!”

"Well, if it's any consolation, he got to take off my bra--"


Clapping her hands over her daughter's ears, Josephine gave Cheyanne a knowing look. "That night… And he's flipped me off several times since that first day…"

"How about we go to the next shop on the list and y'all can try on the dresses I picked out, then we can all go help Jo find something extremely Vegas-y to wear tonight?" Austin suggested, handing Kevin's credit card over to the salesgirl.

“Do I finally get to try on my pretty dress, Mommy?” Katie sighed as she was heaved upward into her mother’s arms.

"Yes, baby… At the next shop, I promise," Josephine assured her.

"Are you going to get all dressed up for your Blondie?" Vivian cooed, leaning over to check on Cheyanne, who was peering over the edge of her sling.

"We have to find Ollie a little dress, too… Chey, what do you think about a frilly, lacy pink number?" Austin questioned with a smirk.

“Whatever you want, Austi…” Cheyanne answered softly, swallowing the lump of disgust in her throat as her daughter’s tiny hand reached out from the sling to find her. Smiling, Cheyanne snuck her hand into the sling, allowing Olivia to hold and chew happily on her finger as she gurgled. Glancing toward the other women, she gestured toward the door, knowing the next store was just a few steps down the street. If Austin wanted Olivia in pink, Cheyanne could manage.

"If I put my goddaughter in pink on my wedding day, shoot me, okay?" Austin requested of Vivian, linking her arm with Cheyanne's as they trooped outside. "You know damn well that I'm going to put all my girls in green…"

"Just my luck," Vivian grumbled. "I look like puke in green--"

“That’s the point. The bride has to be the prettiest. And, you, luckily, get to be the ugliest, Vivie,” Josephine cooed.

"There will be no ugly bridesmaids at my wedding," Austin declared. "All of you are going to be drop-dead gorgeous… But only slightly less than me…"

“You’ve always been the prettiest, Austi,” Cheyanne commented as she was whirled into yet another bridal boutique. The sight of all the lace, frills, and tulle made her utterly grateful that Howie had yet to mention plans for their wedding. The further she could postpone the event – the better.

"You're just saying that 'cause I'm the bride right now… Men have been falling all over themselves for your attention since I met you." Waving a salesgirl over, Austin headed for the bridesmaids dresses.

“I’ve always thought you were the prettiest…” Cheyanne trailed with a soft sigh as Josephine and Vivian moved to follow Austin, leaving her behind.

Katie slid from her mother's embrace, stepping back to Cheyanne and reaching for her hand. "C'mon… You don't wanta get losted," she intoned seriously. "Blondie'd miss you!"


“DADDY!” Baylee shrieked with disbelief as he attempted to jump and block his father’s dunk into the small Fisherprice basketball hoop they had brought along on tour. But, barely the height of his father’s leg, he couldn’t salvage his loss as the small basketball swished into the net. And, Brian immediately began to celebrate, jumping up and down with whoops of delight as Baylee latched tightly to his leg. The little boy released sharp growls of disbelief as he kept onto his father’s leg, getting dizzy. Sound check had finished early and the group had several hours before the concert began. So, setting out a small campsite in the back lot of the venue, the family enjoyed the relaxing and slightly breezy atmosphere. Kevin was forcing AJ to toss around a football as Austin continued to plan the wedding on her expensive laptop and Vivian filmed Baylee’s humiliating defeat. And, the little family unit of Howie, Cheyanne, and Olivia lounged comfortably underneath a large umbrella on a large hammock. Olivia was already snoozing peacefully nestled on her mother’s chest as Howie held Cheyanne close as she attempted to cheer Baylee on. “Daddy! No fair!”

"I am the master!" Brian shouted triumphantly, pumping his arms in the air before scooping his son up. "I AM THE GREATEST!" he declared, twirling Baylee around several times before setting him down on the pavement.

"Acting like a moron is optional," Austin informed him with a good-natured laugh, glancing up from her laptop. "Men are always so happy when they win… Wait 'till somebody beats you, though…"

“Beat me? B’Rok? King of the pint-sized court? Ultimate reigning Lord of the big boys’ court? I think not!” Brian snorted, reaching to stabilize Baylee as he stumbled slightly from dizziness. “Huh, Scooper?”

"The only reason you're the reigning Lord of the big boys' court is 'cause all you have around here to play with is pussies," Austin informed him, shaking her head before turning back to her laptop.

"Daddy? You play with kitties?" Baylee questioned, grinning.

"Sure he does," Vivian murmured, turning off her video camera. "I'm going on a ‘b’ double ‘e’ double ‘r-u-n’," she announced, hopping to her feet. "Want one, Bear?"

"I defy anyone to attempt to take my title!" Brian shouted before giving Vivian a nod. "Just one, though…"

“Like he really needs a beer before the show when his head’s already puffed up so big,” Cheyanne ruefully laughed as she snuggled close to her fiancÚ, rubbing his chest affectionately.

"What's that supposed to mean? Huh? Huh? HUH?!" Brian questioned, full of energy now as his girlfriend headed inside. "You trying to say I'm egotistical or something?"

"Among other things…" Howie trailed, kissing Cheyanne's cheek softly. Though she pulled away slightly, turning to give Brian a look.

“Did you steal Vivie’s bottle of Ritalin or what?” Cheyanne questioned seriously as Baylee hurried over to the hammock, pulling on Cheyanne’s hands. Sighing, Cheyanne shifted Olivia onto her father’s chest as Baylee yanked her out of the hammock. “What is so important, Darlin’?”

"You play Daddy!" Baylee insisted, tugging her towards the basketball hoop as Austin smothered a giggle behind her hand.

“Play your Daddy in basketball?” Cheyanne questioned incredulously as Kevin and AJ came trotting back from tossing around the football. Grasping two sodas from the cooler, Kevin slumped onto it and AJ leaned over Austin’s shoulder to check her plans. Glancing toward Austin’s giggles, Cheyanne then looked back to see Brian running out of his tour bus with a regulation basketball for the larger hoop. “Darlin’, what makes you think I can play your Daddy in basketball?”

"You can do everything!" Baylee informed her with a grin, slipping away to steal some of Kevin's soda.

“Apparently I’m supposed to give you a run for your money…” Cheyanne trailed as she watched Brian dribble the basketball between his legs.

"Yeah… Just hope I don't make you cry too bad when I win," Brian teased,

Biting her lip, Austin glanced up at AJ. "She's going to whip his ass…" she trailed softly, shutting down her laptop so she could watch the game.

"Baylee, wait! I said I'd give you--ARGH!" Kevin yelped, jumping back from Baylee as ice cold soda coursed down the front of his shirt. "I said wait!"

“And he’s the one that wants to have kids,” AJ snorted loudly as Kevin shoved the soda toward Baylee and stalked off to get changed. Though, glancing back toward Brian and Cheyanne, he immediately shook his head. “Brian has been playing basketball forever. There is no way that the little sex-pot is going to beat him unless she plays naked… Which I wouldn’t mind…”

“Just wait and see," Austin disagreed with a secretive smile. "If she doesn't beat him, I'll sleep with Vivian."

"I heard that!" Kevin shouted just before disappearing inside.

“Do I get to join in? ‘Cause I better go buy a box of super magnum condoms--” AJ’s voice cut off at the suggestion as he watched Brian toss the ball toward Cheyanne as if to catch her off guard. But she was prepared. Catching the ball easily, she tossed it around her back to catch it on her index finger for a quick spin. Once she had Brian’s attention, she snuck the ball beside him, dribbling fast toward the hoop for an easy lay up. “What the fuck is that?!”

"That's my Chey-Chey whipping Lord of the Big Boys ass," Austin supplied with a pleased smirk, clapping loudly. "And why would you get to join in?"

"Where the Hell did you learn that?!" Brian questioned in shock.

“My Angel played b-ball in ‘ollege!” Baylee squealed with delight as he crawled onto the hammock with Howie, sipping on his soda.

“Actually, I started on my middle school team, advanced into varsity on my high school team, and got a bit of scholarship money to play in college,” Cheyanne defined for Brian, catching the ball with ease and passing it between her legs for Brian. “Only, I most liked to play for fun… Austi always had this thing about going to the courts to hustle some of the guys… Made good money and got some fair dates out of the deals…”

"What are you, her pimp or something?" AJ asked Austin, sitting next to her with a weary sigh. "Damnit. I was looking forward to hiding in the closet to watch you and Vivian--"

"Who and Vivian?" Vivian asked from behind them.

"Damnit Chey!" Brian bellowed as the ball bounced back off the rim. "You're not allowed to flash your cleavage at me while we're playing!"

“I didn’t flash anything! All I did was bend down to get ready for the free throw! Ain’t my fault you’re looking there instead of at the hoop,” Cheyanne scolded as she snatched the ball, taking it back to their designated boundary line like the rules requested. Watching him stumble slightly, she grinned with amusement as she danced around him with ease, jumping up to sink an easy three point shot. “Score!”

"Why so happy, Bear?" Vivian cooed from the sidelines.

"I'm getting whipped by a little piece of--"

"Who's winning?" Nick questioned suddenly, appearing out of nowhere to sit next to AJ.

“THE INFAMOUS B-ROK IS GETTING HIS ASS HANDED TO HIM BY A GIRL!” AJ yelled loudly to make sure Brian heard as Cheyanne easily stole the ball from him, tossing another easy lay-up. Grinning triumphantly, she checked the ball toward Brian, playing the offense again, blocking him again and again from making a shot.

"GODDAMNIT, AJ! SHUT THE FUCK UP!" Brian screeched.

Nick chuckled, watching Cheyanne zip around the older man. "Are they playing for money or anything?"

"Well, if she loses, Baby Girl said she was going to sleep with Viv… But a-fucking-parently, that ain't happenin'," AJ grumbled with a quick scowl at Austin. "And I don't know what I'll have to do if Rok loses…"

“First you’re going to wait on me hand and foot for a week. Then you’re getting my name tattooed on your ass while playing with the bolt through Brian’s di--”

“Do you guys not realize that we have two kids?” Howie scolded.

"Are you going to make me shave your bikini line? And if I get your name on my ass, are you going to kiss it?" AJ questioned, ignoring Howie completely. "And I've already played with the bolt through Brian's--"

"AJ!" Brian screamed, turning to glare at his friend. "If you don't shut up--"

"That's how he screamed when I was playing with it," AJ whispered to Austin.

“You should have seen what he did when Chey played with it,” Austin laughed.

“You guys are such assholes,” Nick breathed.

“And who are you to say shit? What are you doing around us anyway? Don’t you have some more alcohol to chug?” Austin sharply questioned with a glare.

"If it's any of your business, which I doubt, I came to talk to Chey," Nick explained with a wave of his hand, watching Cheyanne score yet again.

“Well, she’s kind of busy, asshole--”

"Who the Hell asked you?" Nick interrupted angrily, getting to his feet. Waiting until Brian had the ball, he trotted over to Cheyanne, catching her in his arms before pinning her to the ground. He had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to talk to her, though finding her alone had been near impossible. Giving her a smile, he caught her hands and held them away from his face when she went to slap him. "Easy, Chey. We have to talk."

"Good God," Brian breathed, dropping the basketball. "Nick, what the Hell--"

“We need to talk--”

“Get off me, Nick!” Cheyanne growled.

"Not 'till we talk," Nick informed her. "Howie told me to talk to you--"

"Not like this!"

"Howie?" Nick sighed, glancing over at the older man for support.

"You son-of-a-bitch--" Austin yelped when AJ caught her by the waist, keeping her from leaping at Nick.

“She probably needs a drink of water… Why don’t you at least talk to her in privacy? In your bus?” Howie suggested as he reached to snatch hold of Baylee’s shorts so the little boy wouldn’t run to kick Nick in the shins. He had been waiting for Nick to come to his senses about Cheyanne. And, he gave Nick complete trust once more. But this was his last chance. Cheyanne’s friendship was his last chance.

"Are you fucking crazy?!" Austin shot towards Howie as Nick got to his feet, hauling Cheyanne up with him. "Skinny, if you don't let go of me right now--"

"Come on, Chey," Nick encouraged, grasping her hand gently.

“Tea…” Cheyanne trailed with bewilderment, looking back as Nick tugged her toward the row of busses. She was at a loss for words, not understanding how Nick had full control of the situation. She didn’t want to talk to him. She couldn’t stand to see the pain in his eyes anymore, knowing she was the cause. She just wanted to leave him be.

"It's alright," Howie assured her as Brian snatched Baylee up. "I trust him."

"A-fucking-parently, Howie's lost all his rational thought," Austin growled as Nick and Cheyanne disappeared between buses. "You can let go now," she informed AJ, who still kept a tight grip on her waist. "And now that you're my slave for a week, you can run get my suntan lotion off the bus for me."

“Excuse me?” AJ scoffed as he released Austin, actually pushing her away. “You were fucking serious?!”

"Uh, yeah? If Chey had lost, you would have been raring for me to sleep with Vivian! Besides, if you're a good little personal slave, I'll let you rub it on my back," she purred sweetly.

“Austin Leigh!” Kevin growled. “Didn’t you just get off punishment?!”

"This is something completely different! We had a wager!" Austin stated, turning to look at her fiancÚ. "Are you going to let him renege on his deal?"

"And just what kind of deal is it?"

"He's my personal slave for a week."

"I don't want his grubby dickbeaters on you! Damnit, I kiss that skin!"

"Fine… Skinny, you can't rub it in my back," Austin relented with a pout. "I suppose I have to get Baylee to do it?" she asked Kevin.

“Seems fine by me,” Kevin answered, stealing Austin’s seat, knowing full well that she wanted him to do it. But why give her the pleasure? It’d be the first time he won an argument in weeks.