With this ring... by CJ_K

1. Chapter 1 by CJ_K

2. Chapter 2 by CJ_K

3. Chapter 3 by CJ_K

4. Chapter 4 by Jamie

5. Chapter 5 by Jamie

Chapter 1 by CJ_K
Author's Notes:
Each chapter will be random scenes from Matt & Corey's wedding which help take us forward.
Cole, my co author Jamie's partner has written parts of this story with me.
Any mistake is ours as this story has not been beta read.
With this ring...
by Jamie, CJ & Cole



Moonlight made the pool sparkle. Two lovers stood entwined in a center, their lips fused together in a passionate kiss. Hands were gliding over wet skin, entwining in hair. Soft moans and pleas were answered with deeper kisses and wandering hands.


Lightning flashing across the sky along with a burst of thunder shot awareness through the older of the two and caused him to break their kiss and look up at the sky.


Corey whimpered in disappointment before quickly directing his attention from Matt’s lips to his chest. He began trailing his lips along his fiancÚ’s well defined chest while eagerly pressing closer to the older man.


“Core,” Matt sighed and reluctantly began easing Corey away from him.


“Matt please!” Corey pleaded and snuggled into Matt’s arms.


Matt groaned, “Its thundering babe. We have to get out of the water and indoors.” He ran his hands soothingly up and down Corey’s back.


His words penetrated the fog of bliss that had cocooned Corey in its grip. He looked up at the sky before sighing and allowing Matt to guide him out of the water.


Matt bit back a groan as Corey walked up the steps of the pool ahead of him. Water slid off his smooth almost hairless body, the sexy little shorts that AJ had got for him moulded his ass to perfection, the dark tattoo lay covered under a layer of water proof dressing taunted him that there was one more secret to this man’s body that he hadn’t had the pleasure of unveiling yet.


He fought against the urge to haul Corey into his arms. A constant chant of ‘Just four more days,’ ran through his head reminding him that he could hold back for that long after having held back for a year. He shook his head and ran a hand through his hair. He’d hold back for both of them.


He closed the distance between them when Corey’s foot slipped on the wet ground and quickly lifted him into his arms, delighting in Corey’s surprised laughter. Corey’s didn’t protest and simply rested his cheek on Matt’s shoulder.


“Can I sleep in your room with you?” Corey asked softly.
He smiled when he felt Matt’s heart beat faster.


“You know I want to say yes sweetheart,” Matt said and he carefully eased Corey back on his feet. He picked up Corey’s towel and lightly blotted his body before wrapping the towel around his waist.


“But we’ve waited this long, now we may as well do it right,” Corey finished for Matt with a pout.


Matt wrapped a towel around his own waist and held out a hand to Corey.


“You wanted to wait all along because it was what you believed in. You’re obviously allowed to change your mind.” Matt faced Corey as they entered the elevator. “Are you sure this is you changing your mind for yourself or because you feel its ok now that you know that Nick and Kevin are sleeping together?”


Corey followed Matt onto their floor and grabbed his hand before shaking his head. “I’m sure this isn’t because of Nick and Kevin. I don’t know why I’m suddenly feeling this way,” he said shyly.


Matt suddenly turned and moved them towards his room. He turned his head and smiled at Corey, “Will you spend the night with me my love?”


A beautiful smile blossomed across Corey’s face as he nodded quickly.



Say it's true, there's nothing like me and you
I'm not alone, tell me you feel it too



Nick snuggled into the warmth surrounding him as he surfaced into wakefulness. Blue eyes opened slowly to look around the room while wondering what had woken him up. He sighed in pleasure as familiar strong arms tightened around him. He turned his attention to the man holding him and smiled sleepily.


Nick stayed in Kevin’s embrace and waited a few minutes trying to figure out what had woken him up. He sighed as Kevin’s hands began wandering over his body.


“Staying the night?” Kevin asked tiredly.


Nick had originally planned to go back to his room but hearing how tired Kevin still sounded he shook his head slightly. Spending the night with Kevin so that his boyfriend slept well was no hardship for him.


“I’m too comfy to move”, he said before placing a kiss on Kevin’s arm.


“Thank you,” Kevin said and gently tugged Nick closer.


Nick fell back asleep warm and comfortable in his lover’s arms.



I would love to love you like you do me
I'd love to love you like you do me



Nick leaned against the hallway railing and waited for Kevin. He smiled at AJ when he joined him.


“Morning. Did we sleep well?” AJ asked with a wink.


Nick smiled slightly, “Morning. Yes we did,” he said with a soft laugh.


“Did Kevin get any sleep?” AJ asked, all trace of mirth gone from his voice.


Due to Kevin spending the night at Nick and AJ’s apartment in London, AJ was well aware of the fact that Kevin experienced trouble falling asleep when he was stressed or in a new place.


Nick sighed in relief, “Thankfully he slept. He woke up a few times but went back to sleep pretty quickly. Guess he was just overtired enough for his body and mind to cooperate with each other.


AJ nudged Nick’s shoulder lightly, “Or his body and mind knew that you were with him and relaxed.”


Nick looked at AJ in surprise but didn’t argue. A part of him liked the idea of being needed by Kevin.



There's a pillar in my way you see
I'd love to love you like you do me



“Is everyone finally here? Did they enjoy the lunch?” Corey asked.


He was sitting in front of a mirror and frowning into it as he watched Josh run a flat iron through his hair.


“Everyone’s here and they loved the food,” AJ said with a smile. “Getting the Balinese dishes started right away was a good idea. Everyone was hungry, less cautious and more open to trying new dishes.”


Corey sighed, “Oh good! I was so worried that people would dislike the food.”


He fidgeted silently for a minute before asking softly, “Where’s Nicky? Is he with Kevin?” He felt bad for feeling sulky over the fact that Nick wasn’t there with him. His friend was happy and that’s all that should matter to him. He looked over at AJ and smiled slightly, “Nevermind.”


AJ exchanged a look with Josh, “Core, Nick is…”


“Right here.”


Corey looked up into the mirror and saw his best friend smiling back at him.


“Sorry babe getting some stuff from Matthew took longer than I expected and then I ran into dad and Jerald so I had no other choice but to abandon Kevin to them so that I could escape.”


Corey smiled, “I’m glad you’re here.” He looked at Josh and AJ, “All of you. I don’t think I’d be able to do this without you guys.”


The four friends shared a smile and came together for a hug, each one praying for only good things to come the other’s way.


Josh ushered Corey back into the chair in front of the mirror so that he could finish getting him ready.


“Sooo,” AJ said dragging out the word, “where were you?” AJ asked Nick casually.


Nick smiled, “I went to get this.” He held up a black box. “Matt’s dad sent it for you Core,” Nick said with a smile.


Nick walked up to Corey and held out a black velvet box to him.


Corey hesitantly accepted the box. Biting his lip he opened the box and stared in surprise at the delicate diamond tennis bracelet that lay twinkling inside. He had expected something big and flashy but the bracelet was identical to one that his father in law wore. He knew Jake had picked it out keeping his comfort and taste in mind.


He smiled as he thought back to when Matt’s dad had shown him the heavy ruby and diamond set that his mother in law had given him. While Corey had been aghast at the thought of handsome, elegant Jake wearing something like that he knew there was no way he’d be able to wear something so ostentatious. It would look completely out of place on him.


Jake had caught the look on his face and laughed before assuring him that he didn’t plan to get him anything similar. While his saying so had calmed him down, he’d still been worried as Jake had not hinted as to what he’d planned to get him.


He had known that Matt would keep a check of these things on him and not make him wear anything he was uncomfortable with. But in his heart he knew he’d wear whatever they gave him at least once out of respect. But wearing it at one of his wedding dinners where everyone would be looking at him had left him nervous.


He grinned and held his arm out to Nick so that he could put the bracelet on him. He had worried for nothing. His father in law obviously knew exactly what he’d be comfortable wearing and could use in the future.



It's a beautiful night
we're looking for something dumb to do
Hey baby
I think I wanna marry you



Richard smiled as he came up behind his husband and fixed the clasp of the thin gold chain that he’d been struggling with.


“Thanks hun,” Jake said with a smile.


Richard gently rested his hands on Jake’s shoulders, “Ready to give our son away?”


Jake shook his head and reached up to squeeze Richard’s hands, “I’m ready to welcome our new son home.”


They shared a happy and content smile. Their son was marrying for love and that was one of the best things they could wish for him. The fact that Corey was such an amazing young man increased their happiness tenfold.


Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice



“This is so unfair,” Corey muttered as AJ took away his wine glass again.


Nick raised his eyebrows as he nibbled on a piping hot slice of pizza, “What is?”


“This!” Corey said while waving his hand around to indicate the Salsa Verde restaurant. “I still don’t get why we had to have separate welcome dinners.”


Nick slid a slice of pizza onto Corey’s plate, “This isn’t your welcome dinner, well not really. The formal one is tomorrow and Matthew will stay glued to your side for it.”


Corey groaned and rested his head on the table.


“You can go visit Matthew at his party for awhile tonight if you want to,” Nick said nonchalantly while sharing a smile with AJ.


Corey jerked his head up and stared at Nick.


“Or you can stay here and wait for Matt to come to you,” AJ said.


Corey stared at his friends wide-eyed, “Matt’s coming here?” he asked surprised.


“Uh huh, there he is!” AJ said.


Corey’s head whipped around so fast they were surprised he didn’t hurt himself. Not seeing his fiancÚ anywhere he turned back and pouted at how gleeful his friends looked.


“Meanies,” Corey said softly. “He’s not coming is he?”


“Yes he is. He’s right behind you,” Nick said casually.


Corey rolled his eyes and pouted, “Yeah like I’m falling for that again.”


“Hey baby,” a voice whispered in Corey’s ear before warm arms slid around Corey.


“Matt!” Corey turned his head and smiled at him.


Matt slid into the seat next to Corey, smiling as the young man leaned forward to kiss him.


When Kevin and Brian joined them at the table Corey finally understood why Nick had insisted they sit at a table for six. Throughout the past hour other guests joined them for a few minutes before moving onto another table. Now their table was finally complete. Nick winked at him and leaned back slightly into the arm that Kevin had slid over his chair.


“We’ll be back in a bit guys,” Matt said as he and Corey
walked away.


Kevin rested his hand on Nick’s shoulder and tugged him closer while leaning in to speak softly to him. “Where’s Jessica? Brian didn’t want to come knowing she’d be around.”


“She’s gone outside for a smoke with Annaliese. They have been glued together since they got here. Didn’t join us at all, just came by and said hello,” Nick said.


Kevin slowly rubbed his thumb back and forth along Nick’s neck. “We will leave once Matt does a round of hellos.”


Nick sighed and nodded, Kevin’s touch a mix between soothing and arousing.


Brian smiled at AJ, “How’s everything going so far?”


AJ took a sip of his wine and nodded, “Pretty smooth for the most part. Corey’s a bit cranky about all the socializing but with Nick around he hasn’t had to do much talking so far.”


“Good, that’s good. He shouldn’t have to be uncomfortable at his own wedding.” Brian hesitated before speaking, “Did you meet Jessica?” At AJ’s nod he continued, “I hope she didn’t take her irritation out on you.”


“Because I’m your date?” AJ smiled slightly. “I don’t think she knows yet. She won’t get far if she tries to say anything to me Brian. Firstly because Nick wouldn’t let her and second I wouldn’t. I don’t need anyone to defend me nor will I allow anyone to attack me.”


Brian slid his hand over AJ’s which was resting on the table and squeezed gently, “You’re doing me an incredible favour by being my date AJse let me know if anyone tries to upset you over it.”


AJ looked into Brian’s eyes and slowly turned his hand so that their palms pressed together. “I will.”


AJ smiled and reluctantly moved his hand away from Brian’s, his skin tingling from the contact.



Keep it going, let's not lose it
Feel the flow



Monique subtly tried to get in touch with her daughter while keeping an eye on her stepson and Kevin Richardson. She didn’t like how close together they were sitting, nor the way Kevin was touching Nick.


Unable to get through to Annaliese’s phone, she sent her a brief text message and hoped her daughter would come back quickly. The other guests had started noticing Nick and Kevin sitting together and talk had once again begun about how good the Carter-Richardson heirs looked together. Monique’s mood wasn’t helped by the fact that even she couldn’t dispute that they did indeed look very good together.


A few minutes later she observed Matt saying his goodbyes to Corey’s parents and decided to join Nick and Kevin. She decided to make Kevin stay until Annaliese arrived and then suggest that Annaliese accompany Kevin back to Matt’s party. Kevin wouldn’t be able to refuse and Nick would be left behind with his friend AJ.


Happy with her plan she stood up and moved towards her stepson and Kevin only to find that they’d joined Robert, Cara and Jerald.


“I’m taking Nick with me.”


Monique froze when she heard Kevin say that and hurried to join them.


“Kevin darling AJ will be left all alone here if you take Nickolas with you,” Monique said sweetly as she joined them.


“AJ’s coming with us Monique,” Matt said with a smile.


Before Monique could think of anything to stall them with Matt continued, “We’ll get going now. My parents are waiting for us.”


“Have a good time,” Cara said with a smile.


Monique knew she couldn’t ask them to wait for Annaliese and only hoped Annaliese could join them once she returned. She kept a blank expression on her face as she watched Kes arm around Nick while they walked off. She was confused as to why Cara, Jerald and Robert didn’t seem surprised at the way they were touching. Rolling her eyes she picked up another glass of wine and walked off to look for her daughter.



It is not how much we have,
but how much we enjoy,
that makes happiness - Charles Spurgeon



Corey stopped at the stairs leading into Watercourt Restaurant where the Sigmond’s close friends had gathered for dinner. The scene ahead of him looked and sounded very lively and happy.


As it usually happened with him, Corey froze up at the thought of having to join such a gathering where he knew he’d invite attention.


Nick immediately noticed the change in Corey’s body language and nudged Matt. Matt nodded his head and gently wrapped his arms around his beautiful man.


“Hey love,” he said softly and rested his chin briedly on Corey’s shoulder. “Everyone’s waiting for you if you’re ready to go in.”


Corey swallowed hard and slid his hand over Matt’s which was resting on his stomach. “They all know I’m coming?” he asked softly, his eyes glued to the laughing, talking people around Matt’s parents.


“My dad’s know I went to bring you, the rest think that it’s a rumour that you’ll come.” Matt nuzzled Corey’s neck gently. “We don’t have to go in if you don’t want to.”


Corey licked his lips, “But your parents… won’t they feel bad?”


Matt kissed Corey’s head, “They’ll understand. It’s entirely your decision sweetheart. No guilt involved.”


Corey turned his head and pressed his lips against Matt’s jaw. Hands firmly clasped together they walked up the steps and joined the party with their friends following a few steps behind.



I would run away
I would run away with you



Richard Sigmond’s smile widened when he saw Matt and Corey coming towards him. He excused himself from the friends he was with and went towards them.


“Corey you look wonderful!” Richard said as he held out his arms to Corey.


Corey smiled shyly and stepped closer to Richard. He was slowly getting used to the hugs Matt’s parents greeted him with every time they saw him. Truth to be told he loved how open and sweet his in laws were.


“Hi Rich,” Corey said sweetly and smiled when as expected Richard placed a kiss on his forehead.


Richard put his arm around his husband as he joined them. Jake smiled at him before turning his attention to their son in law.


“Corey, you look beautiful sweetheart,” he said as he leaned down to hug the young man gently.


Corey blushed as he always did when his gorgeous father in law complimented him. Jake was one of those
men who looked even more handsome as they aged.


“As do you Jake,” he said with a small smile.


“Thank you darling,” Jake said while moving aside so that the people gathering around them got a chance to meet Corey.


“You told everyone not to crowd him for long?” Jake asked as Richard hugged him from behind.


Richard kissed Jake’s cheek, “Yes. Don’t worry love we’ll get him to a table if people don’t give him his space in a few minutes.”


Jake smiled, “Thank you. I don’t want him to be uncomfortable.”


“He won’t be, not with you watching out for him,” Richard said before turning Jake’s head to capture his lips in a kiss.


A throat being cleared made them break their kiss to see Nick Carter grinning at them.


“Hey lovebirds.”


Richard released his hold on Jake allowing him to step forward and embrace Nick. “Hey adorable one.”


Nick had quickly endeared himself to the Sigmond’s when they’d begun meeting him socially. Getting to know him further as Corey’s friend only brought them closer.


“How are you? I’ve barely seen you since you’ve been home,” Jake said his eyes flicking to Kevin who was standing with AJ before meeting Nick’s again.


Nick pouted, “No fair! You’re the busy one! I’ve been to your house twice and both times you were at home.”


Richard chucked, “He’s got you there sweetheart.”


Jake grinned and held up his hands, “I can’t argue with that. I was covering a few extra shifts to be able to take more time off.”


“Without feeling guilty,” Richard murmured causing his husband to mock glare at him.


Nick frowned in confusion, “More time off?”


Jake nodded, “I want some time off when Corey and Matt come back from their honeymoon so that Corey’s not alone at home when these two are at work.”


Nick knew that being the head of oncology sometimes made it difficult for Jake to get away from his patients. For him to ask for time off so that he could be there for Corey touched him immensely.


He smiled and impulsively hugged Jake. “You’re just awesome you know that? Corey’s lucky to have you.”



This is the right time
Once in a lifetime



Matt brushed a light kiss across Corey’s lips. “I’ll grab some food and be right back ok?”


Corey smiled and nodded, “I’ll be here.”


He watched Matt walk off before looking around at the party that was slowly winding down with most of the guests going back to their rooms. He quickly pulled his phone out of his pocket and clicked a picture of Nick and Kevin dancing slowing to the music playing.


“Hey,” he said as Jake joined him.


“Hey,” Jake said with a tired smile as he sat down.


“Thank you for the bracelet,” Corey said quickly. “I like it very much.”


Jake’s smile widened, “I’m glad you like it Corey.”


“I love it all the more because it matches yours,” Corey said while moving his own arm so that it rested beside Jake’s. Their matching bracelets sparkled under the lights.


“I hope you like what I’ve picked out for the next three days too.”


Corey’s eyes widened, “You’re giving me something everyday?” he asked surprised.


Jake nodded, “It’s tradition in our family to do so.”


Corey shook his head in wonder. He’d never worn jewellery except for a watch and then his engagement ring. Now he’d own four pieces in four days.


Richard and Matt joined them a few minutes later. Richard stood behind Jake and massaged his shoulders drawing an appreciative sigh from Jake.


“What can I get you to eat sweetheart?” Richard asked.


Jake shook his head, “I’m not hungry Rich.”


Matt looked disapprovingly at his dad who shook his head.


“I’ve had a pizza and salad sent up to your room,” he said.


Richard smiled gratefully at his son before tugging Jake up. “Goodnight kids. Matt make sure you boys escort AJ, Nick and Corey to their rooms.”


“We will dad,” Matt said. “You just make sure papa eats.”


“I will,” Richard said. “Goodnight Corey.”


“Goodnight,” Corey said.


He watched them leave, concerned about how pale Jake suddenly looked.


Matt squeezed his arm. “He’s fine, just needs to eat and rest. His blood sugar tends to plummet quickly when he overdoes it.”


Corey nodded slowly and allowed Matt to distract him with food as their friends joined them at the table.



Cause I am falling in love
No never I'm never gonna stop
Falling in love with you



AN HOUR LATER…


Matt and Corey walked hand in hand towards Corey’s room.


“Everything wrapped up early tonight,” Corey murmured.


Matt was well used to his fiancÚ’s voice getting softer as he grew tired. “I don’t expect us to be able to leave before midnight tomorrow though,” he warned Corey gently.


Corey nodded, “I’m going to spend the day in my room tomorrow. Probably only come down for breakfast.”


“Me too, some peace and quiet begins sounds good,” Matt agreed.


“You, Mr. Social want peace and quiet? Now that’s a new one,” Corey said with a grin.


Matt rolled his eyes and tugged Corey closer. “Yeah yeah it does tend to happen once in awhile.”


They slowed down as they reached Corey’s room, both reluctant to let go. Corey smiled shyly as he looked down at their hands before tugging lightly on Matt’s hand. He looked up at him, smiled and nodded. Seconds later both entered Corey’s room together.



Close the door, lay down upon the floor
And by candlelight, make love to me through the night
Chapter 2 by CJ_K
Author's Notes:
All mistakes belong to us. This story is not being beta read.

My apologies for the huge delay. I've found it difficult letting go of this story. Feels like I'm letting a little part of J go.

-Cole



Corey nodded, “I’m going to spend the day in my room tomorrow. Probably only come down for breakfast.”


“Me too, some peace and quiet before the madness begins sounds good,” Matt agreed.


“You, Mr. Social want peace and quiet? Now that’s a new one,” Corey said with a grin.


Matt rolled his eyes and tugged Corey closer. “Yeah yeah it does tend to happen once in awhile.”


They slowed down as they reached Corey’s room, both reluctant to let go. Corey smiled shyly as he looked down at their hands before tugging lightly on Matt’s hand. He looked up at him, smiled and nodded. Seconds later both entered Corey’s room together.

-x-

AJ leaned back on his arms while lazily moving his legs back and forth in the pool. It was peaceful and quiet out here; he was very glad he had decided to come out here and sit by the pool while the others swam.


Turning his head he found Nick stretched out and seemingly asleep on one of the lounge chairs. He smiled slightly, ‘Poor kid’s tired out.’


He looked down when he felt a slight tug on his leg. He raised his eyebrow on finding Brian smiling up at him.


“Come in for a bit.”


AJ shook his head.


Brian tugged on his leg again. “Come, the water feels great.”


“No, I can feel the water just fine with my legs.”


“Come.”


“No,” AJ said with a laugh at the pouty expression on Brian’s face.


“Pleeaassee,” Brian said drawing out the word while tugging more firmly on AJ’s leg.


AJ tried to yank his leg back. “Brian NO!” he said when he saw the mischievous smile on his face.


Brian’s hand crept up his leg, “Tell me why not. One good reason.”


AJ tired to inch back but Brian refused to let him do so by grabbing his other leg too. “Um because I don’t want to?”


Brian shook his head, “Not good enough.”


AJ looked around for Kevin and found him smirking at them while floating nearby. “Kev help!”


Kevin smiled, “Hurry up Bri!”


AJ’s eyes widened on hearing that. Before he could protest further though Brian yanked on his legs and managed to pull him into the pool.


AJ surfaced to Brian’s hands holding his hips and Kevin’s laughter.


“Jerks!” He tried to glare at them but couldn’t help but join in their laughter.


“Admit it,” Brian said softly while slowly tugging AJ close. “It feels great.”


“Yeah,” AJ said softly, unable to look away from Brian’s eyes, “It does.”

-x-

The next morning…

Cara and Jerald Richardson were walking towards the elevator when they saw Richard Sigmond walking towards them.


“Good morning,” Cara said with a smile when they entered the elevator.


“Good morning. Why didn’t you join us last night?” Richard asked them.


The Richardson’s exchanged a look. “We had planned to but Annaliese and Jessica were glued together and would’ve come with us. We didn’t want to create a potentially awkward situation for anyone,” Cara said.


Richard sighed, “I guess that was for the best.”


“At least the kids went between both the parties,” Jerald said.


Richard smiled, “Yeah. The three of them charmed everyone.”


“Where’s Jake?” Jerald asked as they entered the restaurant where breakfast was being served.


“He’ll be down in a few. He wanted to get Corey’s present sorted.”


“Are you giving it to him at the party tonight?” Cara asked after they had ordered coffee.


Richard shrugged, “Jake wants to give it to Corey in his room.”


Cara nodded, “That would be better. Corey does not like being the centre of attention.”


“Kinda hard to avoid that at your own wedding though,” Jerald said.


Richard nodded in agreement before smiling as Jake and Robert joined them.


“Will we be hearing wedding bells for Kevin and Nick soon?” Jake asked once everyone had ordered breakfast.


Robert chucked, “Considering they didn’t even tell us they are in a relationship until they’d settled things between them I doubt it. I’m sure they’ll just inform us if they want to get married.”


No one missed the fact that Robert said if and not when.

-x-

“Morning,” Kevin murmured as he came up behind Nick who was sitting by the window.


He cupped Nick’s cheek and captured his lips in a lazy kiss.


Nick smiled, “Morning. I’ll get you some coffee?”


Kevin shook his head and sat down next to Nick, “What’re you doing?”


Nick showed Kevin the book he was holding, “Just going through today’s checklist.”


Kevin ran his finger down the page over Nick’s handwriting. “Anything I can help you with?”


Nick nodded, “Tonight. I’ll need help with the entertainment.”


Kevin nodded, “Whatever you need.”


Nick smiled and leaned into the arm Kevin wrapped around his shoulder.


“What will you do with the book once the wedding’s over?”


Nick shrugged, “I haven’t decided. I have a couple of ideas bouncing around my head but…” he trailed off and sighed. “Nothing feels like the one yet.”


Kevin nodded while playing with the ends of Nick’s hair.


“You feel like going down for breakfast or room service?” Kevin asked.


Nick snuggled a little closer to Kevin, “Room service. I can’t be bothered being social right now.”


When Kevin started to stand up Nick tightened his hold on him.


Kevin rubbed Nick’s back and held him close. “Breakfast?”


“Hmm,” Nick sighed. “In a bit please. I’m comfy.”


Kevin chuckled at how adorable Nick was and settled down to give Nick as much time as he needed to feel up to moving.

-x-

The phone rang just as AJ walked out of the bathroom. He tossed his towel on the bed and picked up the phone.


“Hello?”


“Good morning, hope I didn’t wake you?”


AJ smiled and lay back on the rumpled bed he’d got out of not too long ago. “Good morning. No perfect timing, I just got out of the shower.”


There was a moment of silence on the other end before Brian spoke up. “Would you like to join me for breakfast?”


“I’d love to, just give me a few minutes to get dressed,” AJ said.


There was a moment of silence again. "Sure I’ll come by in 10 minutes?” Brian asked softly, his mind filled with images of AJ’s toned body.


“Make it 5,” AJ said and hung up the phone.


AJ quickly went to the closet and pulled on a pair of beige shorts and a white beater. He hesitated for a second before slipping a simple short sleeved blue shirt on to cover up the tattoo on his arm.


Brian was eager to see AJ again even though they’d only parted seven hours ago. He enjoyed being around the other man and wanted to spend a lot more time with him.


His smile widened when the door opened and AJ stood before him. AJ smiled back, both of them quickly checking each other out. Their eyes met again, both of them very aware of the interest the other was showing.


“Did you call the others?” AJ asked while stepping out and pulling the door shut behind him.


Brian only took a small step back resulting in AJ standing close to him.


“No, it’s just us. Is that ok?” Brian asked.


“Perfectly ok.”


They continued looking into each other’s eyes before turning and walking towards the lobby.


“Did you sleep well?” Brian asked his hand brushing against AJ’s as they walked.


A soft smile spread across AJ’s face. “Yes. It was a bit disconcerting at first because it’s so quiet around here at night. I’m so not used to that. But I ended up sleeping very deeply.”


Brian smiled, “It’s the same for me at home. My room is in such an area that all I can hear around me is silence. I love it.”


“The room you shared with Jessica?” AJ asked tentatively.


Brian shook his head. “We had our own place. I always hated it. When we got divorced I gave the apartment to her and began living in my apartment at Sanctuary.”


AJ nodded, a thoughtful look on his face as they entered the restaurant for breakfast.


The hostess smiled at them. “Good morning. My name is Simaya. May I have your names please?”


“Good morning,” AJ said with a smile. “AJ McLean and Brian Littrell,” he said while indicating Brian.


Simaya smiled and started going through the list in front of her. She quickly located their names and ticked them off. Brian smiled as he looked at AJ. He loved AJ’s confidence.


Simaya waved them into the restaurant. “Please have a seat. Your server will be with you shortly.”


They thanked her and walked inside. Selecting a corner table they sat down across from each other. After both of them ordered their coffee and breakfast, their server set two small plates in front of them.


AJ’s plate had a big chocolate cookie with yellow frosting on it while Brian’s was a chocolate chip cookie with red frosting on it. Both plates had Corey and Matt’s combined initials on it in chocolate.


They looked at each other in surprise.


“I’m guessing you didn’t know about this either?” Brian asked.


“No, not at all. But it looks delicious!”


They picked up their cookies and took a small bite, closing their eyes in pleasure as the frosting flavor burst across their tongue.


“Mine is buttery lemony,” AJ said while licking his lips.


Brian stared at AJ’s lips and licked his own. “Mine is strawberry,” he said a little hoarsely.


Their server, Michael returned with their coffee and a bread basket for them. “Hope you gentleman are enjoying the cookies. The grooms selected their flavors and personally sat in on the tasting yesterday to ok it.”


“It’s delicious, thank you,” Brian said with a smile.


Michael cleared his throat, Brian’s smile making him blush. “I’ll be back with your breakfast sir.”


AJ bit back a smile when he realized that Brian wasn’t even aware of the effect he had on the other man. He’d be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy being the center of Brian’s attention.


“Do you…”


“Would you…”


Both began speaking together and trailed off with a laugh while offering their plate to the other. They broke off a piece of their cookie and held it out to the other.


Brian popped his piece into his mouth, moaning softly as the delicate flavor burst into his mouth while AJ licked at the frosting on his piece.


“It’s delicious little goodies like this that make me wish I could live on dessert alone,” Brian said with a happy sigh.


AJ laughed, “What’s stopping you from trying it?”


Brian blinked in surprise as he registered AJ’s words. “Well because…,”


“Because?” AJ asked as Brian trailed off. He leaned towards Brian with a smile, “You’re pretty fit, healthy too I’m assuming?” At Brian’s nod he continued, “So what’s stopping you? Go on and conduct a little experiment.”


Brian pondered AJ’s words for a minute as their breakfast was placed in front of them. AJ let him take his time and began pouring melted butter and warm maple syrup on his pancakes.


“Have you ever tried it?”


AJ smiled at the soft question and laughed. “Oh yeah! Nicky and I tried it and managed to last about a week before we were disgusted by the sight of anything sweet.”


Brian laughed at that while admiring them for living their life and having a good time while doing so.


“What?” AJ asked after a min of silence when he looked up from his food and found Brian staring at him.


“You. At first you come across as this serious individual but I can see that there’s a lot of light and laughter about you,” Brian said softly.


AJ looked down at his plate before lifting his head up to look at Brian. “Life is too short to not enjoy it,” he said equally as softly.


They looked into each others eyes for a min. Brian’s were searching for door’s to open so that he could find out more about this interesting man and AJ’s beseeching Brian not to ask him anything further on this topic. Thankfully Brian caught on and nodded his head reassuringly to show that he understood.


They continued with their breakfast, soft smiles and easy conversation were all that they exchanged for the next little while.


“Do you have any plans for the day?” Brian asked AJ as they finished their breakfast.


“No, not really. I just want to be around in the evening once Corey starts to get ready. He’s calm when he has company," AJ said with a slight smile.


“Would you like to spend the day with me?” Brian asked while looking into AJ’s eyes.


AJ’s smile slowly widened, “I’d love to.”


They decided that a walk along the beach had to be the first thing they did and set off together.


Jake who watched them leave couldn’t help but feel that their timing couldn’t have been more perfect as Monique walked in from the other entrance. He exchanged a quick look with Cara before smiling slightly as Monique joined them.

-x-

Fifteen minutes later AJ and Brian walked in silence down the beach. They drifted closer to the water's edge as they walked. Their hands kept gently brushing together until Brian grabbed AJ's hand and held it. He looked at AJ for his reaction and found a small smile on his face.


They walked hand in hand for an hour, both enjoying the uncomplicated company. Heading back to their rooms became a must after a playful water fight left them drenched.


They stopped at the foot of the stairs leading up to the hotel and wrung out their clothes as best as they could so that they wouldn’t drip water all over the hotel on their way to their rooms. Brian stripped off his t-shirt and squeezed out the excess water before slinging it over his shoulder. AJ quickly looked away before Brian could catch him staring. His mind was still focused on Brian’s muscular body as he took his shirt off. He fingered the hem of his beater while contemplating whether to take it off or not when he looked up and saw Brian watching him. He fought the urge to blush and look away while wondering what was wrong with him.


“Do you want me to bring you a towel?” Brian asked gently.


AJ slowly shook his head. Again he fought the urge to look away. Rolling his eyes at himself he tugged his beater off. Knowing Brian was watching made him aware of every drop of water that slid down his skin.


They spent a moment looking into each others eyes. Both knew that something was developing between them.


They looked away when a shadow fell over them. A pool boy had come down the stairs and stood in front of them. Brian took the towels he was holding out to them with a warm smile of thanks.


Brian draped one towel around AJ’s shoulders, reveling in the shy smile AJ gave him. He put his arm protectively around AJ as they walked through the hotel. He couldn’t remember ever feeling this way about his ex wife; the need to protect, claim, and adore a person. ‘This can’t just be chemistry,’ he thought with a slight shake of his head.

-x-

Corey sat on the table, his legs swinging back and forth as he watched Josh flat iron Nick’s short spikes while Nick kept trying to pull away.


“Is it really hot outside?” Corey who hadn’t stepped out of his room for more than a few minutes asked.


“It’s hot and humid for sure,” AJ said while handing Corey a bottle of water.


Corey accepted it with a slight frown on his face.


“Coolers have been set up all around the area. Don’t worry Corey, it will be perfect,” Josh said while rolling his eyes at AJ who winced and mouthed a ‘sorry’ at Josh.


“What did you guys do last night?” Corey asked while trying to distract himself.


“I went to the club that I was telling you about. It felt so good to just unwind,” Josh said with a smile.


Corey smiled at Josh and looked expectantly at AJ.


“Kev, Brian, Nick and me hung out by the pool for awhile,” AJ said.


“Don’t you mean the three of you hung out IN the pool?” Nick said with a teasing grin.


AJ groaned while Corey laughed. “What, what? What happened?”


AJ sighed, “I was sitting with my legs in the water minding my own business when Brian decided I wasn’t having enough fun and yanked me in.”


Corey stared open mouthed at AJ for a second before bursting into laughter. “Oh man, that must’ve been so much fun!”


AJ mock glared at Corey for a second before smiling. “Spending time with ‘my date’ has turned out to be more fun than I expected it to be,” he said softly.


“I told you he’d be good for you,” Nick said while looking at AJ in the mirror.


AJ nodded, “That you did. I like him,” he said with a slight shrug and smile.


“And he likes you,” Corey said with a grin.


“He asked me if we could spend time together before I go back to England.” Seeing the expectant looks on their faces, he nodded, “I said yes.”


“Good!” Corey said happily.


Nick stood up and turned around to let Josh inspect him. JC nodded to indicate that he was done with Nick.


A knock on the door drew their attention immediately. AJ being the one closest to the door went and opened it. He smiled and stepped aside when he saw Matt’s parents standing outside.


Jake and Richard entered the room with smiles on their faces.


“All of you look wonderful! You’ve done a wonderful job Josh,” Jake said.


Josh accepted the compliment with a smile of thanks. “Anything for them.”


“Would you like us to leave?” Nick asked.


Richard immediately shook his head. “Not at all. We’ll be out of here in a minute. Corey this is for you.”


He held out a blue velvet box to Corey who accepted it with a shy smile. Opening it up he laughed. Round silver cufflinks with a smile on them made up of diamonds winked up at him.


“Hope your life ahead is always full of laughter,” Richard said gently.


Corey shyly stepped forward and gave Jake and Richard a hug. “Thank you, I love them,” he said softly.


“We’re going to go on ahead. Matt will be along to get you shortly,” Jake said before turning to look at Josh. “I hope we’re going to see you there tonight.”


Josh grinned, “I’m just waiting for Kyle’s call. He needs some last minute stuff from here.”


The Sigmond’s nodded and left. After Josh efficiently got the cufflinks fixed onto Corey’s shirt the four friends stood together and admired the way they looked.


“You’ve really lucked out with getting Jake and Richard as your in laws,” AJ told Corey with a smile. “And they in turn have lucked out getting you Core.”


Corey grinned, “I know! They are just SO nice and sooo in love. It’s so cute!”


The four friends laughed and admired Corey’s present for the next few minutes until it was time to leave.

-x-

“Hey mom,” Kevin said while bending to brush a kiss against Cara’s cheek. “You look beautiful,” he said with a smile.


“Thank you darling,” Cara said while cupping Kevin’s face and kissing his forehead.


“Kevin,” Jerald said while coming up behind his wife and putting his arm around her waist. He took in his son’s cargo pants and white shirt. “You aren’t dressed yet.”


Cara refrained from getting between them. Instead stroked her thumb along Kevin’s forehead to erase the lipstick mark she’d left behind.


Kevin smiled at her before straightening up and looking at Jerald. “I was waiting to collect something for Nick,” he indicated the box in his hand.


Cara smiled at Kevin, “We’ll see you in a little while.”


Kevin nodded. “Looking good Dad,” he said as he turned and walked away. He grinned at the baffled look on his father’s face.


Cara nudged her husband, “From the look on your face one wouldn’t think that you son just complimented you darling.”


Jerald slowly smiled. “He did, didn’t he,” he said softly as he watched Kevin turn around a corner.

-x-

Nick stood outside Kevin’s door, raised his arm to knock before hesitating. Gathering his courage he used the key card Kevin had given him and unlocked the door. Holding his breath he slowly pushed the door open. Peering in he smiled shyly when he saw Kevin walk out of the bathroom.


“Hey,” he said softly as he entered and shut the door behind him.


Kevin smiled as he shrugged into his shirt. “Hey.” Green eyes quickly took in what Nick was wearing. “You look gorgeous.”


Nick smiled shyly, “Thank you.” He cleared his throat, “Umm Josh sent this for you.”


Kevin took the box and moved to stand in front of the mirror. “Thanks. Are the others ready?”


“Alex, Corey and Josh are ready. I don’t know about Matthew and Brian,” Nick said while watching Kevin expertly knot his tie.


“I spoke to them a few minutes ago, both are ready to go,” Kevin said.


He gave himself a quick look in the mirror before turning around and moving towards Nick.


Nick took an instinctive step back before holding his ground and waiting. Kevin gently held Nick’s chin and pressed a soft and sweet kiss against his lips.


“Don’t want to wrinkle you,” Kevin said softly as they parted.


Nick smiled and rested his head against Kevin’s shoulder for a brief moment before straightening up.

-x-

“So how do we do this?” Matt asked while wrapping an arm around Corey and drawing him close.


“We get back into the car and go hide in our hotel room,” Corey mumbled while resting his head against Matt’s chest and drawing laughter from the others.


Their friends laughed at Corey’s sweet pout. Matt smiled and lifted Corey’s head up to brush their lips together.


Kyle strode up to the group and frowned while looking at his watch. “Alright good looking people, why are you waiting here?”


“Waiting for you to get us married and send us on our honeymoon,” Matt said with a grin and a wink.


Corey predictably blushed while smiling. Matt entwined their fingers and squeezed Corey's reassuringly.


Kyle smiled, "A little patience please. Just over a day to go now."


He spoke into his hands free device before looking at the group. "People have started accumulating in the lobby to be brought here. The cars are ready in the lobby. You guys get down there, but go slowly. Let the photographer work his magic. He'll do your solo and group shots right away while you're all neat and perfectly in place."


Corey cringed at the thought of being made to pose and looked at AJ.


AJ shook his head slightly.


Kyle caught the exchange and smiled gently at Corey. "AJ will guide the photographer for your shots and take over if you don't feel comfortable."


Matt mouthed a 'thank you' to AJ while Corey brightened up. AJ smiled and winked at them.


"Ok here's how it goes, I need Brian and Nick to go first, Matt and Corey will follow and AJ Kevin will follow them." Kyle shooed them towards the stairs while moving towards the kitchen to get the appetizers moving out.

-x-

Corey gazed down the steps leading to the terrace area where their dinner was to be held. He held Matt's hand in a firm grip as they walked down the stairs. Matt rubbed his thumb back and forth across Corey's hand as the photographer kept clicking pictures as they walked down. Corey was entranced by the view. He had not visited Bali or seen pictures of their wedding locations. He would have run the risk of stumbling down the stairs if Matt hadn't tightened his hand around Corey's. The terrace overlooked the hotel's beautiful swimming pool and golf course. The pool area below was lit with candles and surrounded by bougainvillea blossoms.


"Look baby, that's where I'm going to make you mine and become yours in a little over 24 hours," Matt said softly.


Corey smiled in delight and hugged Matt. "Everything looks SO gorgeous!" he said enthusiastically.


Matt wrapped his arms around Corey, "How about thanking Nickolas too?" On seeing Corey's confused expression he elaborated, "He came here twice, once with me and once with Kyle to take a look at the arrangements and tweak them to suit you."


Corey turned around looking for his best friend and found him standing by the bar.

-x-

Nick smacked his lips together after tasting the pink champagne cocktail that would be served. He blinked in confusion when he turned and received a hug from Corey.


"Thank you," Corey softly said in his ear, "for making sure everything is so perfect."


Nick smiled and tightened his arms around Corey. "Anything for you, you know that," Nick replied back equally as softly.

-x-

Brian and AJ watched Corey's actions with relief. He'd gone from being disinterested in the party to finally smiling and looking happy.


"He finally looks like a happy groom now instead of looking like he's been told he can't ever have chocolate again."


AJ and Brian looked at each other and laughed. Anyone who knew Corey knew how fond he is of his sweets and junk food.


Brian froze as he faced the speaker. AJ thankfully didn't forget his manners.


"Good evening Mrs. Littrell. You look gorgeous," he said with a smile.


Sabrina Littrell smiled, her dark eyes not missing the way her son stepped protectively closer to AJ.


"Thank you Alex. You two certainly gave people a thrill today."


At their perplexed expression she elaborated. "You know.. with your little semi strip show on the beach."


She smirked at the way both blushed and laughed. She found it very interesting indeed that her usually confident son was blushing. Alexander was definitely someone she needed to keep her eye on.


"Brian!"


Brian reluctantly excused himself when Kyle beckoned him over to get more formal shots with Matt, Corey and Nick.


"So Alex, what do you do if I may ask?" Sabrina asked politely.


AJ suppressed a grin at the way she worded her command into a question. "I'm a photographer, I specialize in portraits but I do a fair bit of fashion photography too."


"But fashion photography is not your passion," she deducted easily from the tone of his voice.


"Not always no."


"Why do you do it then?" Sabrina asked curiously.


AJ smiled slightly, "It helps to pay the bills very well so I can't complain."


"I'm going to need to steal AJ Aunt Rina," Kevin said as he joined them. "Kyle wants to finish the formal shots before Matt and Core get busy with guests."


AJ smiled, excused himself and walked away with Kevin.


"Ok?" Kevin asked gently.


AJ nodded, "Nothing I can't handle."


Sabrina stared after them, a curious expression on her face.

-x-

AJ smiled at Brian when he joined them causing him to relax. Kyle quickly got the group into various poses for pictures as guests began arriving. In 15 minutes the formal pictures that would go into their wedding album had been taken and they were free to circulate and meet people.

-x-

Nick and AJ had decided that one of them would stay close by Corey all through the evening. It was easier for Brian and AJ to stay by Matt and Corey as Brian had no desire to socialize and take the chance of bumping into his ex wife.


30 minutes into the evening Kyle instructed the bartenders to begin serving glasses of pink champagne cocktails among the guests. Catching Brian and Nick's eye he nodded his head. The two best men made their way over to the stairs and went up a few so that they could look out over the crowd. People quickly caught on and turned towards them.


"From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being. That is why we are here together, to watch two souls join together," Nick said with a smile.


"On behalf of the Jacob and Sigmond family thank you everyone for taking the time to join us for Corey and Matt's wedding," Brian said. "Your time and company is the most valuable gift for them."


"Let's raise our glass and start this night out right!" Brian said while raising his glass up.


Nick raised his glass up too.


"To Corey and Matt,” they said together.


The crowd applauded and toasted the couple as fireworks began lighting up the entire area beautifully.

-x-

Later that night...

"So... do we have to be the last to leave tonight?" Corey asked softly.


Josh immediately shook his head. "We have to stop the music by 11:45pm. The kitchen will start winding up by midnight. You can leave by 12:15. Maybe even a little earlier."


Corey sighed in relief, "Ok good, thanks. That's not too bad."


A few minutes later Matt joined them and held out a plate to Corey.


"You want another drink babe?" he asked when Corey handed his empty glass to a passing waiter.


Corey shook his head, "No thank you, I'm good for now." He looked at Josh and Nick, "Eating with us?"


AJ and Brian had joined them with their plates as well.


Nick shrugged, "Ok, we'll go get something and join you."


"Where's Kevin?" Brian asked.


"Around here somewhere," Nick said as he began looking around.


"There he is by the bar," Matt said.


Nick scanned the group near the bar and froze on seeing his boyfriend. Blue eyes turned frosty when he took in the young man touching Kevin.


"They are just talking," AJ well versed with Nick's mood said.


"Why does talking involve touching and why is he allowing it?" Nick asked while taking in the other man.


The man who was definitely a beta seemed to be around Nick's age, soft brown high lighted hair, a slim build, shorter than Kevin. Dressed in tight formal trousers and a fitted shirt, he currently had his hand on Kevin's arm.


Kevin's head was lowered and he was leaning in to the other man probably in order to hear him better which made them look cosy together.


Kevin, as if feeling eyes on him looked up and caught Nick's eyes. His smile widened and he soon said his goodbyes and moved away from the other man.


Josh dragged Nick off to get some food while their friends moved off towards an empty table for them to occupy.


Josh grinned at the small pout on Nick's face as they waited to take some food.


Kyle seemingly magically appeared behind them and pulled Nick's arm. "Hey guys, Josh you go ahead. Nick you can't eat from here because of your allergies. A plate is being prepared for you in the kitchen."


"So I shouldn’t eat anything at all from out here?" Nick asked seriously.


Kyle shook his head, "Thank you for paying attention earlier! I told you not to touch anything from the main course."


Nick grinned sheepishly, "Oops."


Josh smacked Nick's arm, "Pay more attention from now on. Can you give us a head's up about what he shouldn't eat from now on too please?" He asked Kyle.


Kyle nodded and squeezed Nick's shoulder. "Will do. Nick I'll have your plate brought to you."


"Thank you! Are you eating with us?" Nick asked.


Kyle shook his head, "I've got some stuff to take care of inside. You guys go ahead. See you later."


Josh and Nick were walking towards where the tables had been set up when they saw Kevin coming toward them.


"Hey," he said with a smile. "Nick the chef brought out a special dinner out for you."


Nick nodded, "Thanks. Have you eaten?"


"Not yet. I'm going to get some food and join you in a few," Kevin said.


"I'll come with you," Nick said quickly.


"No, you go start eating while your food is hot. It'll only take me a few minutes."


Nick nodded reluctantly and watched Kevin walk away.


15 minutes later Nick pushed his plate away and went up on his toes to look for Kevin. He bit back a growl of annoyance when he found him conversing with the handsome bartender.


He picked up Corey's half full glass of champagne and drained it, his eyes fixed firmly on his boyfriend.


Corey who had no idea how to relate to Nick being in a relationship looked at AJ for guidance. AJ just smiled reassuringly and calmly moved his drink out of Nick's reach.


"Is Kevin doing this deliberately?" Corey whispered to AJ.


"Doing what? Talking to other people?" AJ smiled gently, "I don't think so. This has happened before. Just ignore it. They will sort it out soon enough."

-x-

After waiting another 10 minutes Nick's appetite deserted him. He excused himself and walked away, his dinner not even half eaten.


Matt halted Corey's attempt to follow Nick. He gently squeezed his fiancÚ’s arm.


"Give him a few minutes to himself hun, if he doesn't come back we'll go to him," Matt said.


When AJ nodded in agreement Corey sighed and leaned against Matt’s side.


Matt pressed his lips against the side of Corey's head as he watched Nick run up the stairs and into the hotel lobby.

-x-

Nick stood at the sink, his hands under the cool water. He hoped the water cooled and calmed him so that he did not ruin his own as well as his friends' moods any further. If Kevin wanted to play happy social bee with the world then that was his choice.


'How can you expect him to excuse himself? If you allowed him to have some claim over you he could then have a valid reason to excuse himself and come to you rather than allow people to flirt with him.'


Nick clenched his hands into fists for a moment as a voice that sounded suspiciously like AJ's bounced around his head.


'Why does he require a claim over me for that? He just... he just...'


Nick pouted and relaxed his hands when he realized that even in his head he wouldn't be able to argue over this.

-x-

A distracted Robert Carter stepped up to the sink and began washing his hands. He looked up at the mirror in front of him and smiled in surprise on seeing his son. His smile turned into a frown a moment later when he noticed the pout on his son's face. He dried his hands and turned to face his son.


"Nicky? Son are you ok?"


Nick didn't seem to have heard him at first before suddenly jerking out of his thoughts.


"Hey Dad," he said with a weak smile.


"What's wrong kid?" Robert asked worriedly.


"Dad, do you think it would hurt your partner if you didn't acknowledge them as such in public?" Nick asked after a moment's hesitation.


A strange expression crossed Robert's face before he quickly smiled gently at his son. "It depends on why you aren't acknowledging them in the first place and if your partner is in agreement with your reasons."


Robert turned off the flow of water, grabbed a hand towel and gently dried his child's hands. Nick sighed and hugged his father.


"Do you want to tell me what's stopping you from acknowledging your relationship in public?" Robert asked while stroking Nick's back.


Nick shrugged, "I'm scared things will change," Nick said softly as they pulled away.


Robert lifted Nick's head up so that his son was looking at him. "Is the thought of being pressurized by me what's stopping you?" he asked gently.


Nick immediately shook his head, "I know you dad. I know you wouldn't do that to me," he said confidently.


"I can only speak for myself Nicky and I promise that I will not bring up the topic of marriage first. It's your life and you have to be ready to take on such a commitment. This is a decision you need to take Nicky, I don't want to say anything and influence you in anyway," Robert said softly.


Nick nodded and rested his head on his father's shoulder for a moment in thanks.

-x-

"How's AJ doing?" Corey asked while looking around for him.


"Good so far, he and Brian are sticking pretty close to each other," Josh said. He subtly indicated AJ and Brian who were standing by the bar with Kevin out to Corey.


Corey smiled in happiness and grabbed a fresh glass of pink champagne from a passing waiter much to Josh's amusement.


"Has Nick come back yet?" Corey asked while taking a bit sip of his drink.


Josh wrapped his arm around Corey's back and hugged him. "I'm sure he's not gone far Core. He'll be back."


Corey nodded and yawned.


"Just a little longer sleepyhead," Josh said with a laugh.

-x-

Robert slid his phone into his pocket as he rejoined the party. He smiled at the determined young man striding toward him, his phone pressed against his ear.


Kevin pulled his phone away from his ear and smiled at his godfather. "Do you know where Nickolas is right now?"


Robert hesitated for a moment before tilting his head towards the lobby. "He's in the washroom by the lobby."


Kevin thanked Robert and began to move forward before hesitating. "All ok?"


Robert nodded with a smile, "Just have something on my mind."


Kevin slowly nodded and walked away. Robert watched him move quickly up the stairs before moving ahead to rejoin Jerald and Cara.

-x-

Jerald handed Robert a glass of water as he joined them.


"Where's my boy?" Jerald asked. "Kelly's son wants to meet him."


Robert rolled his eyes at his friend. He knew Jerald was referring to Nick. "Mine has gone to get yours."


Cara smiled at the men before turning back to her conversation with her sister in law.

-x-

Nick was walking back to rejoin the party when he noticed Kevin standing by the stairs with his phone pressed against his ear. He slowed down and took in the frown on his boyfriend's face, the tense manner he was holding his body in and wondered what was going on. A soft smile blossomed across his face at the realization that he referred to Kevin as his boyfriend while thinking of the other man.


Kevin was leaning against a pillar, his phone pressed against his ear when he saw Nick walking across the lobby. He turned to face him while trying to deal with the person he was conversing on the phone with.


"Pete I'm going to put you on hold for a minute. Please pull up the file and double check the contract against the draft," Kevin said before pressing a button on his phone and turning his complete attention to Nick.


"Hey," Kevin said as he met Nick.


"Hey," Nick said softly. He felt a little guilty for thinking uncharitably about Kevin earlier. Thankfully he had only thought them and not said them out loud.


"Jerald's looking for you, will you please go find him? I'll finish up," he said while indicating his mobile, "and join you."


Nick rolled his eyes and gave Kevin a look. "Call him Dad," he said for what felt like the 100th time to him and shook his head with a laugh when he received a smile from Kevin.


"I guess you have to finish your conversation," Nick said indicating Kevin's phone.


Kevin nodded. "I'll join you in a few minutes. This shouldn't take long."


"Area by the bar.”


Nick nodded. "Ok."


Nick brushed his hand against Kevin's as he moved past him to go down the stairs, grateful that he hadn't voiced his earlier irritation to him.


He rolled his eyes at himself. He'd been agonising over their relationship while sulking over Kevin and his boyfriend hadn't even noticed he was upset with him. Nick pondered that for a moment. 'I guess I'm not upset with him anymore. It's my fault not his that he hasn't acknowledged me.'


With a shake of his head Nick went and joined his father and godfather.

-x-

Nick stood with a polite smile on his face and listened to the man his godfather had introduced him to. Ordinarily he would have been fascinated as the Botanist in front of him explained about what drew him to spend his life studying and working with his subject. But today was no ordinary night.


Tonight was the night when Nick finally admitted to himself that he felt extremely jealous and insecure when Kevin bestowed his attention to anyone as completely as Nick had only ever seen Kevin do to Nick himself.


He worked hard to control the urge to pout. Why was it so easy for AJ and Brian to stand so close together and laugh together when they'd only know each other for a couple of days. He and Kevin had know each other for almost a year and been lovers for months yet he wouldn't have been able to have Kevin standing so close to him without stiffening up.


When his new friend went off to get himself a drink Nick quickly scanned the crowd for Kevin. Expecting to find him standing with their friends he was surprised to see his boyfriend standing with a man and woman. They looked to be about Kevin's age and it was very obvious that they were flirting with him. What got his blood boiling was that instead of discouraging their very obvious flirtations, Kevin was encouraging it by laughing and talking to them.


When the man and woman each put a hand on Kevin's arms Nick had had enough. He began making his way toward them, fire burning in his eyes.


Blue gray eyes observed Nick's reactions and quickly but discreetly signalled someone.

-x-

Corey sneezed again and sighed as Matt stroked his back.


"Matt your car is out front," Kyle informed him.


Matt thanked him and began guiding Corey toward the stairs.


Nick swallowed hard and halted when Matt and Corey crossed him.


"Nicky, we're heading back if you want to come with us," Corey said before sneezing twice.


Nick's anger deflated over concern for his best friend.


"What's wrong Core?" Nick asked worriedly while taking in Corey's rapidly blinking watery eyes.


"Allergies," Corey said with a slight laugh. "A couple of people are smoking and I forgot to take my antihistamine. I just took it so it should kick in soon."


"Aww," Nick cooed softly. "Yeah I'll come with you," Nick said quickly. He knew his friend would prefer he be with him. He took one last look at Kevin before turning and walking away with his friends.

-x-

"You want to go back to the hotel, go to a club or somewhere else?" Kyle asked Josh, AJ and Brian.


"Hotel for me. I need to catch up on my sleep," Josh said quickly.


AJ and Brian glanced at each other for a moment before AJ said, "Hotel for me too."


"Me three," Brian said with a smile.


Josh refrained from smacking Brian for not asking AJ out and looked around. "What about Kevin and Nick?"


"Nick left with Matt and Corey," Kyle said, indicating the earpiece he wore.


They looked around and found Kevin standing in a small group with Robert.


"Alright," Josh said, "we'll head out Kyle. Kevin will leave once he's ready to. I'll sleep right here if I don't get my bed soon."


Kyle watched them start moving up the stairs with a smile before turning his attention to the 10 or so people left at the party.


A few people were finishing up their dessert. He saw that the bartender had laid out bottles of water for people to pick up while he closed down the bar. He grabbed one for himself as he walked around to make sure no one had left a purse, wallet or bag behind while also on the look out for shining pieces of jewellery on the ground.


'There will always be one,' he thought with a sigh as the young man who had been clearing a table away brought him a sapphire stone that looked to have been part of a earring. He carefully put the stone into a small zip lock bag and pocketed it, then put a reminder on his phone about it. He'd have to ask around tomorrow and spread the word.

-x-

Brian couldn't bring himself to look away from AJ. There was something about the man that called out to him, appealed to him on every level. It made him want to shield him from other's eyes and keep him to himself.


Josh opened his eyes a little and peeked at the two men sitting opposite him. He had caught Brian staring at AJ all night. Whenever he had looked over at them Brian had almost always been either looking at or talking to AJ.


He looked at AJ who was looking out the window at the passing scenery. He figured they were both quiet out of concern for how tired he felt because they definitely hadn't run out of things to discuss all day.


AJ sighed and turned away from the window. There wasn't much he could see in the dark that interested him. He smiled slightly when his eyes caught Brian's. The man sure liked looking at him and if he was honest with himself which he always tried to be, he liked looking at Brian too.


A few minutes later AJ and Josh walked through the lobby of the hotel with Brian reluctantly following them. He wasn't ready for the night to end. More specifically he didn't want to say goodnight to AJ just yet.


Before he could say anything though Josh spoke up. "I'm sure Brian won't mind accompanying you."


Brian shook his head to clear his thoughts and smiled sheepishly. He'd been so preoccupied by his thoughts that he'd almost walked right into Josh and AJ.


"Umm sorry, I was in my own world," he said with a smile. "Who am I accompanying and where to?"


Josh smiled at AJ before turning to Brian. "AJ wants to walk around the hotel and take a few pictures. You don't mind going with him right?"


Brian's smile widened, "Of course I don't mind!"


Josh bit back a smile at Brian's enthusiasm. "Great! Now that that's settled, I shall say goodnight. I'm falling asleep on my feet! Have fun, goodnight."


"Thanks Josh, goodnight," Brian said with a big smile.


AJ felt Josh squeeze his shoulder as he went past him and into his room. AJ wondered how in the world his quiet comment of going to take pictures by the pool led him to gaining Brian as an escort. The quiet click of JC's door shutting brought AJ's focus back on the man bouncing lightly on the soles of his feet in front of him.


AJ swallowed nervously. "You don't need to come with me, I'll be fine on my own. I don't know what came over JC to suggest this," he said in a rush.


Brian shook his head. "I'd love to go with you."


The silence between them was bordering on awkward before AJ broke it.


"Thank you. It shouldn't take more than an hour." At Brian's nod he continued, "I just need a few minutes to change and grab my camera."


"I'll change too and meet you at your room," Brian said.


Brian shut his door behind him and grinned at the way Josh had helped him out. Not wanting to keep AJ waiting he quickly stripped off his formal wear and changed into casual clothes. Grabbing a bottle of water, his key card and phone he left his room.


AJ opened his door and was surprised to find Brian already waiting outside. They stared at each other for a moment before AJ looked down.


"Where do you want to start?" Brian asked quickly.


"I'd like to walk around the pool and perimeter of that side of the hotel." Noticing the slight grin on Brian's face AJ narrowed his eyes. "And don't even think of a repeat of last night."


Brian held up his hands and smiled innocently. "A repeat attack so soon just doesn't hold the same amount of pleasure. You're safe for the rest of our time here," he promised.


AJ rolled his eyes and couldn't help but return Brian's smile. "You may just charm me yet Littrell," he said with a wink to show he was teasing.


Brian's smile changed from playful to serious. "That would be nice."

-x-

"Kyle?"


He turned around and smiled, "Hi Jake."


"Do we just go upstairs and get a car?"


Kyle nodded, "You can use any of the cars with Matt and Corey's logo on it. It'll take you back to the hotel or anywhere else you'd like to go. There are at least two cars waiting upstairs right now."


"Thank you," Jake said with a smile. "Have Corey, Nick and AJ left?"


"Yes, Corey, Nick and Matt left together. AJ left with Josh and Brian."


"And how will you get back?" Jake asked as he looked around and saw only the hotel cleanup staff behind.


Kyle grinned, "Jake I'll be just fine, don't you worry. I just need to sign off and then I can leave too."


Jake laughed and held up his hands, "Sorry, sorry! I know you all can take care of yourselves but as a parent I worry."


"And as always, I appreciate that you care," Kyle said with a smile. He nodded at Richard as he joined them. "Hey."


"Hello super planner," Richard Sigmond said while embracing his husband from behind. He placed a gentle kiss on Jake's neck, who immediately sighed and leaned back against him.


Jake and Richard waited when a staff from the hotel joined them and held a file out to Kyle. After a quick scan Kyle signed off on it and handed it back to the man.


"Well, looks like I'm done."


Richard nodded. "We can go back together." He let go of Jake as the three of them began walking towards the stairs.


"Robert we're heading back to the hotel. You coming?" Richard asked his friend who was standing by the stairs.


Robert nodded, "Yes. I was just waiting for Kevin."


They turned and found Kevin walking towards them, a bottle of water and his cell phone in his hands.

--

10 minutes later Kevin and Kyle said goodbye to the others and walked towards their rooms.


"Everything was fantastic tonight Kyle, looking forward to tomorrow," Kevin said as they parted outside Kyle's room.


"Thanks Kevin," Kyle said with a happy smile.


He watched Kevin walk off further down the hall to his room and sighed. 'Good thing I ordered room service for all of them to snack on. I don't think any of them ate much if at all for one reason or the other,' Kyle thought with a sigh as he went into his room.


-x-


Nick sat in the dark room drumming his fingers on the arms of the chair as he checked the glowing red numbers that told him the time. It was 2:09 am and yet there was no sign of Kevin.


He himself had been back for almost an hour, had made sure Corey felt better and had left him snuggled in Matt's arms.


He'd been sitting in the dark for 30 minutes now, just waiting for his boyfriend to show up. He turned alert eyes to the door when he heard movement outside.


--


Kevin unlocked his room door and stepped inside without bothering to turn on the lights. He turned to shut and lock the door when he had a feeling he wasn't alone.


Flicking on the light switch he turned to see Nick sitting across the room from him still dressed in his shirt and pants from the party.


"Hey." He tossed his suit jacket on top of the desk.


"Hey? Is that all you can say?" Nick hissed softly.


Kevin toed off his shoes while tugging his tie off.


"What else would you like me to say?" Kevin asked with a tired smile while starting to remove his cufflinks.


Nick ran his hands through his hair. "Oh I don't know, maybe tell me where you've been all this while? All damn night?"


Kevin frowned and began unbuttoning his shirt. "I was with your dad."


Watching Kevin unbutton his shirt to reveal hints of his toned, chiseled chest was the last straw for Nick. He stalked forward and grabbed Kevin's shoulders before roughly capturing his lips in a kiss.


Kevin gasped and grabbed Nick around his waist. Fearing Kevin might try to push him away Nick grabbed the back of Kevin's head and deepened the kiss.


Stopping Nick was the last thing on Kevin's mind. Nick had never displayed such possessive passion over him before. He loved it and wanted a lot more of it.


A little while later they broke their kiss and looked at each other. Nick licked his lips when he took in Kevin's appearance. Kiss swollen lips, hair mussed, shirt hanging off his arms.


'I did that.' A thrill spread through Nick.


"Are we fighting or is this make up sex?" Kevin shrugged off his shirt and let it fall to the floor, his eyes never leaving Nick's.


Nick bit his lip, then pouted slightly. "Make up sex wouldn't make sense since you didn't even realize we were fighting."


He began to unbutton his shirt. "So, maybe this should just be me, wanting to ravish my boyfriend."


Kevin smiled and nodded. "Works for me."


Nick let the possessiveness that he'd felt building in him all evening push him to close the distance between them. He shrugged his shirt off, wrapped his arms around Kevin's neck and pulled him into a kiss.


Chapter 3 by CJ_K
With this Ring
Chapter Three

AJ sighed and pressed his lips against the warm skin he was laying on.

Warm skin... brown eyes popped open, a tattooed arm was hurriedly used to push himself up. He blinked rapidly down at the man he had been laying on only to find blue eyes looking back at him out of a smiling face.

"Good morning," Brian said softly.

"Morning?" AJ said in sleepy confusion while trying to figure out what was going on.

Brian grabbed AJ's free hand and tugged AJ back down on top of him. AJ sighed and rested his head on Brian's shoulder as the events of the previous night caught up to him.

"Did we?" AJ asked softly while trailing his fingers down Brian's bare chest.

Brian caught AJ's hand as it wandered too low and dragged it back up, "Yes we did." He lifted AJ's hand to kiss the back of it. "You don't remember?"

AJ lifted his head up to look at Brian and smiled, "It's all coming back to me now. Thank you for a wonderful night," he said softly. Shifting his head he pressed his lips against Brian's neck and nipped lightly.

Brian wrapped his arms around AJ and sighed as they snuggled back into each other.

"No regrets right?" Brian asked.

"None whatsoever," AJ said sleepily

Brian smiled and tightened his arms around AJ.




Corey's eyes fluttered open. Light brown hair pushed out from under the duvet. He groaned as he settled his head on the soft pillow and reached out to grab his phone from under the other pillow.

8:39 AM stared back at him.

Whimpering Corey tossed the phone onto the pillow and yanked the blanket up over his head while snuggling back into the soft sheets.




In one of the rooms next door a couple slept entwined together. Their naked bodies were covered by a blanket to shelter them from the cold room.

Clothes were strewn about the room, an indication of the passion that had claimed them hours ago.




Matt stood with his hands against the shower wall, his head hanging between his arms. Warm water pounded against his back.

He squeezed his eyes shut, desperate to shut off the words that had been repeating like a CD on auto play since last night.

He got out of the shower, wrapped a towel around his waist and walked into his room. Sitting down on the edge of the bed he squeezed the excess water out of his hair, eyes trained to the floor.

'What do I do? Should I tell him? Or honor the promise I have been asked to keep? Wouldn't it be better if he knows? Should I agree and keep quiet so that they can break it to him soon like they said they had planned to?'

With a sigh he lay back on the bed, his feet on the ground, his mind continuing to toss questions around his head.

A little while later

Matt couldn't help but smile as he sat down across from his parents. He had to clear his throat to get them to notice him, so lost were they in each other's eyes and whispered conversation.

"Morning," he said with a grin.

Jake grinned and looked down before raising his eyes and smiling at his son. "Good morning."

“Morning son,” Richard said while wrapping his arm around Matt and squeezing gently. "What brings you down? We figured you'd be hiding out with your Corey," Richard said as he began buttering a piece of toast.

Matt shrugged, "I was awake, didn't want to take the chance of waking him and I didn't want to eat alone so I came to find you guys."

Jake smiled in thanks as his husband set a triangle of toast with butter and jam down on his plate. "That's good then. Let Corey rest, he was wonderful last night. He'll need his strength and patience for tonight."

Matt nodded, his eyes darting to a few tables down from them where Robert Carter sat with Cara and Jerald Richardson. Shifting his eyes back to his parents he picked up the coffee cup that his dad had filled up for him and took a long sip.

"You look tired Matthew, is everything ok?" Richard asked the concern in his voice audible.

Matt smiled weakly, "I didn't sleep too well. I'll sleep for a few hours when I get back to my room and just skip lunch. I'll be ok."

Jake nodded slowly, "I'll send something to you room, or keep something in our room in case you feel hungry."

"Are you sure nothing's on your mind?" Richard asked slowly.

Matt crossed his fingers under the table. This was the downside to them being so close as a family, his parents could read him pretty easily and always knew when something was on his mind.

"I'm fine Dad, don't worry. Thinking about Corey, hoping he's not getting overwhelmed. I'm just anxious to finally start my life with him, our life together."

He hoped he'd managed to convince his parents and bit back a sigh of relief when he saw their faces relax into smiles.




Corey played with his new bracelet before AJ gently helped him with the clasp.

"You really think I should wear it for breakfast? It's not too much?"

AJ smiled and nodded. "I know it feels like too much to you Core but wear it at least while you're here. Back home wear it when you feel like it."

The doubtful look still hadn't left Corey's face. He nervously kept turning the bracelet around his wrist causing it to sparkle under the lights.

"How often have you seen Jake wear this?"

"He pretty much wears it all the time except when he's at work." Corey ceased the nervous twisting and looked at AJ. "You cannot compare me to Jake! He's so sophisticated and cool. I'm just," he shrugged, "me."

AJ squeezed Corey's arm. "You are his son in law. He's given you a bracelet that matches his so that you can wear it as often as he wears his if you want to."

Corey tilted his head. "Huh... I had not thought about it this way before."

He faced the mirror and looked at himself. He took in his navy blue shorts and white shirt, the sparkle of the beautiful bracelet on his wrist and smiled slightly.

He took a deep breath and let it out before smiling. "Ok, let's go."

AJ nodded. "You're almost ready."

He smiled when he saw Corey's confused expression. "Your ring is on the table. Put it on and we can leave."

AJ began laughing at Corey's heartfelt groan. He wondered how Corey would react to the two gifts he was yet to receive from his in laws. 'This should be fun,' he thought as they left Corey's room.




Nick opened his eyes as soft lips pressed against his shoulder. He looked over his shoulder and smiled at his boyfriend.

“Morning.”

“Morning.”

Nick shivered at Kevin’s deeper than usual sleepy voice.

Kevin tugged on his arm until he turned around. Nick settled down so that they were sharing the same pillow and facing each other.

After a moment spent looking into each other’s eyes Kevin glanced down at the phone Nick had set on the bed between them when it buzzed several times.

“What time is it?”

Nick gently ran his fingers through Kevin’s hair. “Almost 10. Corey and AJ were asking if we want to join them for breakfast.”

Kevin slid his hand up Nick’s hip, “Do you want to?”

“I can take it or leave it. I didn’t expect you to wake up so easily.” Nick began stroking Kevin’s hair.

Kevin sighed, “It’s late enough.” His eyes slid closed at the tender way Nick was caressing his hair.

Nick grinned and bit his lower lip, “We didn’t sleep until after 5am. You wanna go back to sleep? I can stay here with you.”

“I think I will try and sleep for a bit more. I appreciate you wanting to stay with me. But you go join your boys for breakfast.” He opened his eyes and tugged Nick closer for a hug.

Nick pressed his lips against Kevin’s jaw. “Ok. Do you want me to bring something back for you? A muffin or toast or something?”

Kevin rubbed his cheek against Nick’s, “Yeah that sounds good.”

Nick kissed Kevin’s shoulder before drawing back and sitting up. “Sleep.”

Kevin watched as Nick got out of bed and did his best to avoid Kevin’s eyes as he moved around the room to pick up his clothes that had been strewn about last night. He turned once he was dressed in his pants and shirt and smiled at Kevin, his face flushed.

Kevin winked at him causing Nick to laugh. “Sleep!”

Kevin obediently closed his eyes and smiled when he felt Nick tug the blanket up to cover his shoulders. When he heard the door gently click shut he turned over and tried to go back to sleep.




AJ slid his phone back into his pocket as they entered the restaurant. “That was Nicky. He’s going to shower and join us.”

Corey smiled, “Good! What’s your plan for the rest of the day?”

He smiled at the hostess who recognized him as one of the grooms and waved them in. They chose a table in the corner away from the bright sunlight pouring in through the glass doors.

A server came over and smiled at them. “Good morning Mr. Jacobs, Mr. McLean. The buffet closes in half an hour but feel free to ask for anything you’d like from it. We’ll bring it out from the kitchen for you.”

Corey smiled, “Thank you very much Ben!”

AJ smiled and nodded, “Thank you.”

They placed their order for fresh fruit juice and a platter of mixed fruit while they waited for Nick.

AJ sat back in his chair. “The perks of being the groom. They really are being very accommodating.”

Corey nodded. “Totally! I didn’t get up out of my seat even once yesterday. They brought everything to the table for me. I didn’t even have to go place the order for my omelette or anything.”

“You do deserve to be indulged Core,” AJ said with a smile.

He patted his camera bag. “You mind if I get a few candid shots while you eat?”

Corey shrugged, “Saying no to you is not worth the effort anymore.”

AJ laughed as he remembered Corey protesting for days when he visited Nick in London for the first time and AJ wanted to take his picture. Over the past three years he had gotten used to AJ taking his picture at random moments.

They smiled as their server Ben filled their glasses with juice before setting a pitcher of it down on their table. When he left Corey stared at the plate of mixed fruit arranged beautifully around the plate, a rack of toast, and a plate of mixed mini muffins.

“Don’t even start with me!” AJ warned. “This isn’t a lot of food.”

Corey closed his mouth and made a zipping motion.

AJ rolled his eyes and speared a piece of mango to pop into his mouth. His eyes closed in bliss when the cold, sweet, juicy flavour burst across his tongue.

Corey grinned and followed AJ’s example by biting into a piece of mango. “Mmm this is good.”




Nick rubbed the towel over his hair, then flung it on the bed and ruffled his hair with his fingers while sliding his feet into his flip flops. He rushed out the door after grabbing his wallet and phone.

He hurriedly made his way down the stairs and to the restaurant where breakfast was served. He entered the restaurant and quickly spotted his friends. He made his way over to them and sat down across from Corey.

“Good morning!”

AJ and Corey grinned at Nick’s smiling face and flushed cheeks. “Good morning indeed,” Corey said.

“Should I even bother asking where you were?” AJ asked.

Nick laughed and blushed, “I’m hungry.”

After a few minutes of light hearted teasing they settled down enough to eat.

“All ok?” Corey asked hesitantly.

Nick looked down at his plate for a moment before looking up with a shy smile and nod. Corey smiled widely and reached out to squeeze Nick’s arm while AJ winked at him.

Nick cleared his throat. “So what’s the plan?”

AJ raised his eyebrows in amusement at Nick’s very obvious change of subject but decided to cut him some slack. “I have a short session with Matt’s parents in a little while.”

“Ohhh!” Corey bounced lightly in his seat. “Are you going to take the shots outside?”

AJ smiled at Corey, “Yes, on the beach.”

Nick laughed at Corey who was almost vibrating with excitement. “You wanna go watch?”

AJ quickly shook his head before Corey could answer. “The sun is out, you’ll tan.”

Corey pouted and gave AJ the saddest look he could come up with. “Please please please AJe! I will love you forever and ever!”

AJ rolled his eyes with a laugh, “That you will anyway!”

“Aww c’mon Alex, please!” Nick joined in.

AJ shook his head at their antics and shrugged. “Ok, but on one condition. You and Matt join Jake and Richard. I’ve been meaning to capture the four of you together.”

Corey turned his pout on Nick. “He’s mean,” he whispered.

Nick grinned and reached out to ruffle Corey’s hair. “It won’t be so bad. The choice is yours though.”

AJ shook his head. “I don’t understand how you can model and waltz up and down the ramp but sulk over having to take a few little pictures with your family.”

Corey stabbed a mini muffin with his fork and shoved it into his mouth. “Hate picture time,” he muttered.

AJ looked at his watch before drinking the last sip left of his coffee. “Excellent! So I’ll see you two outside in 30 minutes. What you’re wearing is fine. Once I’m done with your shots you can watch for a bit. If you and Matt turn out to be a distraction for Jake and Richard I’ll have to send you guys in.”

AJ grabbed a chocolate muffin and walked off to get his equipment from his room.

Corey sighed and looked at Nick who was staring at his plate with a soft smile on his face. Corey slowly picked up his phone and unlocked it. Activating the camera he carefully set up his shot and took Nick’s picture.

It said a lot to Corey about Nick’s mental state for him to have not heard the click of the picture being taken. He looked at it for a moment before emailing it to Robert and AJ. He smiled and emailed a copy to Kevin too.




Nick let himself into Kevin’s room and gently shut the door when he saw the room in darkness. The only light coming in was from where it peeked through the curtains.

Setting down the tray he’d brought with him Nick slipped off his flip flops and carefully slid onto the bed beside Kevin. He didn’t expect Kevin’s hand to slide around his waist and tug him close.

“Thought you were asleep,” Nick said softly and began to run his fingers through Kevin’s hair.

Kevin sighed and shifted so that he could look at Nick. “Calls and emails began popping in.”

Nick sighed and slid his hand down to squeeze the back of Kevin’s neck. “I’m sorry; I should’ve checked that your phones were on silent before I left.”

Nick was well aware that Kevin always turned his phones silent and kept them upside down so that even a message received light wouldn’t blink. It was a ritual that Nick himself had gotten used to whenever they spent the night together. This was the first time that they had slipped up on it.

Kevin slid his hand under Nick’s t-shirt and rubbed his side. “Don’t stress about it. I slept well enough and long enough.”

He sighed and hauled himself up. Resting his elbow on his knee he rubbed his eyes.

Nick swallowed hard and licked his lips. The subtle light coming in to the room was enough for him to see that the sheets had slid low on Kevin’s hips to reveal his firm, muscular body. He bit his lip and resisted the urge to slide his lips and tongue over Kevin’s sleep warmed body.

He cleared his throat, “Umm I got you something to eat. Coffee… and coffee. Do you want some coffee?”

He winced at how nervous he sounded and hoped that Kevin was too sleepy to notice.

Kevin turned his head and looked at Nick. “Thanks. I’ll go take a quick shower and wake myself up a bit first.”

Kevin squeezed Nick’s thigh before turning, sliding off the bed and tossing the sheets back. He stretched his body up towards the ceiling before making his way to the bathroom.

Nick stared at Kevin’s naked body and bit his lip hard to swallow back a whimper. He didn’t think he’d ever get over the reaction he always had to seeing Kevin naked. He sighed in relief when Kevin shut the bathroom door.

He rubbed his face with his hands and rolled his eyes at himself. ‘You’re a real moron Carter.’

When Nick heard the shower turn off a short while later he moved away from the balcony doors to pour Kevin a cup of coffee.

Kevin stepped out of the bathroom and moved behind Nick before sliding his arms around his waist. His lips sought out Nick’s neck and began a slow exploration of the tender, creamy skin in front of him.

“Kevin,” Nick moaned softly. He quickly put down the cup he was holding least his shaking hand cause hot coffee to spill over him. He didn’t know if he should pull away from Kevin’s light hold or lean back into his embrace.

Kevin slid his hands under Nick’s t-shirt and began caressing his firm stomach. He nuzzled Nick’s jaw, moved his hands up to gently stroke over Nick’s nipples.

Nick gasped and sagged back into Kevin. He slid his hands over Kevin’s arms and turned his head for a kiss.

Kevin didn’t disappoint and held Nick firmly against his body while lazily sliding his lips against Nick’s.

Nick moaned when he felt Kevin’s hand sliding into his pocket only to whimper in disappointment when he pulled out Nick’s phone which had been vibrating and broke their kiss. Kevin held the phone in front of Nick’s face so that he could see AJ’s face on the screen.

Nick licked his lips and tried to control his breathing as Kevin slid his thumb across the screen, activated the call and held the phone to his ear.

“Nicky I’m heading downstairs. Come by the pool entrance to the beach when you’re ready.”

“Um yeah ok J, I’ll uh be here in a bit,” Nick said quickly.

AJ’s laughter came through the phone loud enough for Kevin to hear him too. “Ok, I’ll totally understand if you want to skip out!”

AJ disconnected the call and Kevin pulled the phone away from Nick’s ear. He rested his chin on Nick’s shoulder, slid the phone back into his pocket and rested his hand on Nick’s thigh. Nick shivered at the feel of Kevin’s hand on his leg.

“You have to go?”

Nick turned around in Kevin’s arms and slid his hands up his chest to wind around his neck.

“AJ’s doing a quick shoot of Matt, Core, Jake and Richard and then of just Jake and Richard. I’m going to watch.”

“Ok.”

“You wanna come with me?” Nick asked hesitantly.




Matt pressed his face against the side of Corey’s neck to muffle his laughter at the look on his dad’s face.

Corey frowned and pinched Matt’s waist. “You are such a meanie!”

Matt nipped at Corey’s neck in retaliation and kissed his ear. “Why?”

“Because it’s not funny and you’re laughing! It’s adorable is what it is.”

Matt tightened his arms around Corey’s hips, “I don’t get a lot of opportunities to watch my dad turn into a big bundle of adorableness. I am finding it cute and it’s making me laugh.”

Corey turned halfway to look at his fiancÚ and confirm that he was indeed finding the situation cute.

He nodded his head, “Alright then, as long as we are on the same page here.”

They shared a grin and went back to watching AJ fixing Jake’s look.




AJ was surprised that Nick had not only shown up but brought Kevin along with him. He tried to keep a subtle eye on them while also doing his job but it wasn’t as easy as it would normally be thanks to Jake Sigmond feeling awkward and shy and Matthew constantly laughing.

He sighed in relief as he reviewed all the pictures he’d taken so far of the four of them and decided he had enough to work with. Looking up he smiled at the way Kevin and Nick were sitting together and quickly changed the settings on his camera to capture the moment without them being aware of it.

“Matt, Corey you guys can go. I only need Richard and Jake now.”

“Can we stay and watch?” Corey asked.

AJ shook his head, “No kid. You need to go and get out of the sun. Josh will kick my ass if you start burning.”

Corey bounced lightly and hugged Richard and Jake. “Have fun! Take lots of really nice pictures!”

They laughed at Corey’s enthusiasm and nodded.

“We’ll come by your room around 7:30 this evening,” Jake said.

“7:30?” Corey asked in confusion before looking at Nick who nodded. He shrugged, “Ok 7:30.”

AJ, Richard and Jake said their goodbyes to the two couples as they walked a little further down the beach to a new spot.

Walking back into the hotel Corey grinned and nudged Nick who was walking next to him causing him to bump into Kevin who was walking beside him. Nick narrowed his eyes at Corey and shoved him gently against Matt in return. Corey laughed and grabbed Nick’s hand and began swinging their arms back and forth as they walked.

Matt glanced at his watch. “It’s almost 1:30.”

Nick exchanged a look with Kevin. “I wouldn’t mind getting a bite to eat and then enjoying my bed for a few hours.”

“What time do we have to start getting ready in the evening?” Corey asked while leaning his head against Nick’s shoulder.

“6ish. You will go last.”

“Cool, I’ll sleep until then. I’m hungry too, where should we eat?”

Matt smiled and held Corey’s other hand. “The menu tonight is Thai and Balinese food. We can get some Italian now if you want a change.”

They decided to eat in Matt’s room and continued walking through the hotel to the elevator.




A few hours later Corey woke up to gentle hands stroking his hair and a voice softly calling his name. His eyes fluttered open to find Nick sitting beside him. He smiled and stretched lazily.

“Time to wake up. It’s five after six,” Nick said softly.

Corey allowed Nick to tug him up and sighed before getting out of bed. He yawned and shivered.

“So… I’ll go take a shower?”

Nick smiled and nodded. “AJ’s already with JC.”

Corey nodded and hugged Nick before wandering into the bathroom. Nick switched on more lights in the room and then used the connecting door to go into JC’s room.




Corey watched as JC ran gentle hands through his hair to style it. “Hey is this that gel you used during the show?”

JC smiled and nodded, “Yup. It has gold glitter in it so it’s perfect to give your hair that extra hit of shine.”

Nick and AJ smiled at Corey’s fascinated look. Due to Nick accompanying AJ to parties in London with the fashion crowd he worked with, he was used to seeing people look glamorous. He’d even experimented with makeup himself before deciding it wasn’t for him. Corey on the other hand had lived a very sheltered life so far. It made them feel good that their friend was allowing them to glam him up.

AJ changed positions and clicked another picture of Corey and JC. He showed it to Nick who nodded.

“Just one more of Corey completely ready and looking at himself in the mirror maybe?” AJ asked.

Nick nodded, “Yeah that works.” He suddenly smiled. “Now AJ now now!” he whispered urgently.

AJ grinned at what Nick was seeing, quickly set up the shot and rapidly took a few pictures.

Corey looked up from where he’d been looking down at his engagement ring and blushed when he realized AJ had been taking his picture. He laughed when AJ continued taking pictures.




Cara Richardson laughed in delight as she took in all the women in the lobby in their colourful sarongs.

“What’s going on?”

Sabrina Littrell smiled at her sister in law. “Sarongs have been provided for everyone! They have people around who will wrap it for you however you want to wear it.”

“No wonder the dress code for tonight is so casual! I can just wear a sarong over what I have on now.”

Sabrina smiled, “That’s the idea.”

Sabrina scanned the area before leaning closer to Cara. “Where’s your hoping to be daughter in law?”

Cara shook her head at Sabrina, “Last I saw her she was glued to your ex daughter in law.”

Sabrina sighed. “She hasn’t even bothered to say hello to us. When I look back on how I constantly took her side and defended her to Brian,” she trailed off.

Cara wrapped her arm around Sabrina’s waist and squeezed gently. “You can’t change the past honey. You can only do your best to ensure his present and future is a happy one.”

Sabrina leaned against Cara and allowed her sister in law to comfort her. “I just don’t want to see him hurt again Ca.”

“You need to let go Rina. Let him make his own way this time. He did things to please you and Harold. Let him do things his way now.”

Sabrina knew her sister was right. She had to let go and hope her son would find the happiness he deserved after all the pain he’d gone through.




Kyle smiled when he saw Kevin and Brian enter the party.

“Hey guys.”

“Hey Kyle. Everything looks amazing. Another hit,” Kevin said with a smile.

Kyle grinned as Brian echoed his cousin. “Thanks! Nick and Matt envisioned it, I hope I’ve done it appropriate justice.”

“Oh I think you definitely have. It’s a perfect blend of formal and fun,” Brian assured him.

“Kevin darling!”

Brian’s smile froze on his face when he saw Annaliese and his ex wife come up to them.

“Hello ladies,” Kevin said with a polite smile.

He knew he should compliment them but he had nothing nice to say to the woman who had caused his cousin to question his self worth. And he couldn’t play the role society expected of him and only compliment one woman and ignore the other.

“Where have you been darling, I’ve barely seen you,” Annaliese said while wrapping her arm around Kevin’s waist.

“I’ve been around,” Kevin said with a slight smile.

Brian looked away from his ex wife after taking a brief look at her. Dressed in a skimpy, sparkly bikini with a short wrap tied around her waist, her belly ring a flashy, real diamond one, he realized with relief that she didn’t appeal to him at all. His heart and mind were well and truly closed to her.

Kyle decided to help Brian out.

“Brian can you go wait with Matt and then walk in with them? You’ll need to escort AJ and Nick.”

Brian nodded gratefully at Kyle before turning and walking away without a word.

Kyle excused himself and walked off to meet his assistant, hoping Kevin would forgive him for abandoning him.




Nick got out of the car and smiled when he saw Matt waiting for them, Brian walking up behind him.

Corey got out of the car and stopped to stare at Matt. Dressed in beige linen trousers, a white shirt that was barely buttoned up showing off his broad chest, Corey couldn’t take his eyes away from him. He didn’t realize that the feeling was mutual.

Matt couldn’t look away from how angelic his Corey looked. Cream linen trousers with a white short sleeve shirt just made him glow all the more. He moved forward and held his hands out to Corey.

Corey slid his hands into Matt’s and moved closer to him.

“You look so damn beautiful,” Matt said softly.

Corey looked down with a shy smile on his face as he felt his face heat up. Matt wouldn’t allow it and gently held his chin to tilt his head up.

“Gorgeous.”

Corey grinned, allowing his teeth to sink into his lower lip. “So are you, gorgeous I mean.” He sighed shakily and shivered.

Matt grinned and slid his hand up to cup Corey’s cheek. “My beautiful beautiful Core.”

“Stop it,” Corey said with a laugh.

Matt laughed and pressed his lips against Corey’s forehead before taking a step back from him. His eyes slid down when he saw something shine against Corey’s neck.

“Is that,” he trailed off.

Corey smiled and pulled up the pendant around his neck so that Matt could see it. “The dads gave it to me,” he said proudly.

Matt laughed in delight when he saw the crown pendant that Corey was holding. His parents and household staff had jokingly begun referring to Corey as their ‘Little Sparkling Sunshiny Prince’. He now understood that the gifts his parents had been giving Corey were based on that nickname. He hadn’t known what they were going to give Corey. Robert had very seriously told him that it was between them and their son in law. He could see it if Corey wanted to show it to him.

He leaned down and brushed his lips against Corey’s. “I love my parents and I love you.”

AJ looked away from Matt and Corey being adorable for a moment and frowned when he saw Brian. He moved away from the car and right up into Brian’s personal space.

“Are you ok? What’s wrong?” he asked quickly.

Brian looked at AJ in surprise. “Why do you think something’s wrong?”

AJ raised an eyebrow. “If I didn’t before I do now.”

At Brian’s confused look he elaborated. “You answered my question with a question.”

Brian smiled slightly and shook his head. “I’ll be fine.”

AJ frowned and stepped back, surprised that he’d been so forward with Brian. Maybe he and what they had done was the problem.

Brian sighed and grabbed AJ’s hand. “It’s not you.” He squeezed AJ’s hand when he saw the doubtful look on AJ’s face, “Really really not you.”

He took a deep breath, “Jessica’s inside. She and Annaliese came over when I was with Kevin and Kyle.”

AJ squeezed Brian’s hand back. “Anything I can do to help?”

Brian swallowed hard, “Stay with me tonight.” He hurried on, “I know we have things we need to talk about, sort through. But just while we’re here, please just stay by me. I don’t want to give her any opportunity to create a scene and ruin this night for Corey and Matt.”

AJ gave Brian a quick hug. “I’m glued to you tonight,” he promised.

Brian smiled, not questioning for the moment why he was able to trust AJ so easily. Maybe it was because he was Nick and Corey’s friend. Or maybe it was because something in him had instantly felt drawn to AJ from the first moment he’d seen him. Sometimes it was better to just go with it rather than pick it apart by overanalyzing things.

He held out his other hand to Nick. “We ready to do this?”

Corey and Matt joined them, Matt indicating that Brian, AJ and Nick should walk ahead of him and Corey.

Corey walked down the pathway that had been lined with flickering candles and flowers. The sweet scent of Jasminum sambac wrapped their arms around them, the cool sand slipping over their toes.

A cheer went up from the crowd as they walked in. The party had officially begun.

Soon after a traditional Balinese dance performance was performed while guests enjoyed the delicious food and drinks that had been set up around the area.

Corey stood close to the raised platform stage fascinated by the dance and the heavy beat of drums echoing around them. He gripped Matt’s arm which was wrapped around his waist and turned his head quickly to grin at him.

“This is fabulous! Thank you thank you thank you!”

Matt kissed the back of Corey’s head and refrained from hauling him closer. “Glad you’re enjoying it love.”

He took a quick look at the crowd gathered around the stage and was relieved to see that everyone seemed to be enjoying the performance. Every part of the wedding had been set up with Corey’s enjoyment in mind. The fact that everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves was a bonus in his book.

After the performance concluded the DJ took over. Matt laughed and allowed himself and Corey to be pulled onto the dance floor by Nick, AJ and Brian.

After dancing to a few songs with Corey he noticed his parents sitting nearby. He indicated to him that he’d be back.

Sabrina Littrell smiled when she saw Matt come towards them. “Hello handsome.”

“Hey gorgeous, why aren’t you on the dance floor with us?” he asked while squeezing his dad’s shoulder in thanks when he handed him a bottle of water.

Harold Littrell laughed, “That’s for you youngsters to enjoy.”

Sabrina mocked growled and poked her husband’s arm with her finger. “Excuse you! Are you calling me old?”

Harold held up his hands as Matt started laughing. “No dear, not you. I was referring to myself.”

Sabrina sniffed, “That’s better.”

Matt moved around the table and held his hand out to her. “Let’s go then.”

She slipped her hand into his and stood up. Looking at his bare feet she quickly slipped her own sandals off. As they moved past Jake she grabbed his hand and tugged.

“You’re coming with me,” she commanded knowing he wouldn’t turn her down.

Jake laughed and allowed himself to be pulled along after a quick look at his husband.

Matt led them over to where Nick, Corey, AJ and Brian were dancing. Nick, Corey and Brian cheered when they saw who Matt has brought along with him.

Sabrina smiled at her son and AJ who are dancing close together before turning her attention to Matt for a dance.




“Is that Jake?”

Richard smiled as Cara and Jerald Richardson join them. “Yes it is.”

“I forgot how good a dancer he is!” Cara said delightedly as she watched Jake dance with Nick and Corey. “Why aren’t you out there with him?”

“Because I am not comfortable with salsa in public.”

Jerald, Cara and Harold look at Richard in confusion. “Salsa?” they ask in unison.

Richard took a sip of his drink and smirked. “Wait and see. I know Matt’s up to something.”

Sure enough within minutes the beats of ‘Sway’ by the Pussycat Dolls swirled around them. Richard quickly stood up and moved closer to the dance floor. He wasn’t going to miss a second of this.

Jake narrowed his eyes at his son before shaking his head frantically. Matt pouted and mouthed ‘please’.

Sabrina walked up behind Jake and rubbed his back. “Let’s show them how it’s done J.”

Jake whipped his head around so quickly she was scared he’d hurt himself. “You cannot be serious,” he hissed.

“Oh I am! Now come on, don’t keep a lady waiting,” she said with a wink.

Twirling a little away she held out her arm to him. Rolling his eyes Jake sighed and held out his arm to grab her hand.

Matt grinned and turned to the DJ. At this signal the song began once again.




The people on the dance floor quickly formed a circle around the dancing pair and loudly cheered them on.

Jake laughed and pulled Sabrina close to him before pushing her out so that she could twirl out.

Corey was screaming and cheering in excitement on seeing this new side of his father in law.

Brian laughed and distractedly wrapped his arm around AJ as he cheered his mom and Jake on.

Nick grinned and cheered, his body swaying to the music. He turned to look for AJ and found his friend looking back at him. AJ grinned and slid his hand into Nick’s outstretched one. Within seconds they had joined Jake and Sabrina on the dance floor much to Corey’s delight. They moved as one with the beat and matched their steps to Sabrina and Jake.

Corey pressed himself back into Matt’s body while clapping in happiness. He took a look around; everyone was watching and cheering for the foursome.

The song ended and switched to current fast tempo hit causing people to join in and begin dancing. Jake handed a dancing Sabrina over to Brian and was going to step off the dance floor when a hand encircled his and a body pressed against his back.

“I want a dance too.”

Jake turned and looked into his husband’s smiling face with a smile of his own.

Richard led Jake over to where Cara and Robert had joined AJ, Brian, Corey, Matt, Sabrina and Harold. Within minutes Nick showed up with Jerald in tow. Jerald let out a deep suffering sigh as his protests of not wanting to dance were ignored by his godson. His wife openly laughing at him didn’t help matters.




Half an hour later Nick made his way over to the bar. Thankfully it was not very crowded because a lot of the guests were either at the buffet or already eating.

Nick drank down the shot the bartender set in front of him, wincing as the alcohol burned down his throat. Nodding to indicate he’d like another, he held out his hand for it. When the bartender held out the third shot Nick didn’t hesitate to reach for it.

He frowned when someone grabbed the glass meant for him.

“Hey!”

Nick swallowed hard at the green eyed stare he was met with.

Kevin raised his eyebrow challengingly before slamming back the shot.

Nick watched fascinated, as Kevin licked his lips and set the glass down on the bar.

Kevin stepped closer to Nick and gently grabbed hold of his hand.

“I’ve seen you dance with AJ before,” he said referring to AJ and Nick’s salsa, “but it can’t compare to tonight.” He took another step and stood close, the way acquaintances definitely did not. “You looked so sensual, so hot. It was all I could do to restrain myself and not grab you right there.”

Nick blinked slowly, the alcohol he’d rapidly consumed hitting him hard. “Umm, why didn’t you?”

Nick’s eyes widened because that was definitely not what he’d meant to say.

Kevin came closer until he was almost pressed up against Nick.

“Really Nick? You’d let me,” he lowered his head and spoke into Nick’s ear, “hold you and kiss you and claim you in front of all these people?”

Nick’s breath hitched, his hand moving to press against Kevin’s chest. He swallowed hard and made a decision.

“Yes.”

Kevin pulled back and looked into Nick’s eyes. Whatever he read in Nick’s face was enough to have him close what little distance was left between them. He slid his fingers into Nick’s hair and tilted his head up. He didn’t give Nick a chance to second guess himself before pressing their lips together.

Nick’s heart was beating hard and he could feel Kevin’s beating the same way from where his hand was pressed against his chest.




Monique turned away from her husband after checking in with him, ready to head back to where her daughter was keeping Kevin Richardson occupied. She stood rooted to her spot though, a gasp of disbelief escaping her.

Robert turned when he heard her gasp. She wanted to stop him from seeing what she was seeing. She didn’t want him getting any ideas in his head.

When she glanced at him though she knew it was too late. Robert had a smile on his face. He was happy about his son being with Jerald’s son. She took a look around at the other people who had noticed the young heirs kissing and wasn’t surprised to see approval on all their faces.

‘This can’t be happening,’ she thought to herself. She closed her hands into fists, her long nails pressing into her skin.




Jessica turned around when her cigarette was plucked out of her hand.

Annaliese smiled at her and took long drag from the cigarette, holding it in before raising her head up to blow it out.

“Where’ve you been all night?”

Annaliese licked her red lips, “With Kevin.”

Jessica looked at her in surprise, “Really? So you’ve finally got him?”

Annaliese took another deep drag of the cigarette and released it. “Yes. He hasn’t strayed from my side all night.”

Jessica grabbed her cigarette back. “So where is he now?”

Annaliese shrugged, “Around. I needed a smoke break.”

Jessica laughed, “And you don’t want him to know that you smoke?”

“He won’t care, his parents may.”

“It’s better to be upfront from the beginning Annaliese. If I’d done that, I wouldn’t be in this mess now,” Jessica said bitterly.

Annaliese applied a fresh coat of lipstick on her lips and fluffed her hair. “I’m not you Jessica. I will make this work. I just need to get his ring on my finger.”

Jessica flicked her cigarette away and shrugged. “It’s up to you.”

As they turned and entered the area where the party was being held, Jessica who had been walking a little ahead stopped suddenly. Annaliese frowned in confusion and looked around for what could have caused her to stop when she gasped in surprise.

White hot rage spread through her body. This was not happening, not to her, was all she could think about.

She swallowed the urge to screech when she saw Nick smile sweetly and press his face into Kevin’s shoulder. That’s my man, she felt like screaming out.

She imagined herself striding up to them as if she were on a ramp, all eyes moving from them to her. She would grab Nick’s shoulder and yank him away. In her mind he was shorter than her. She’d pull him close and hiss at him as to what she’d do to him if she caught him so much as looking at her man ever again, and then she’d shove him away from her. Kevin would stare at her in awe, finding it sexy how possessive she is and immediately drop down to his knee and propose to her.

Jessica nudging her caused her to snap out of her thoughts. “Looks like he was just waiting to leave your side so that he could seek out the one he wants Annaliese.”

Annaliese knew she had been caught out and could do nothing but glare at her.




Nick knew they had to have drawn a fair bit of attention. He could hear the excited murmurs around them. He resisted the urge to bury his face back into Kevin’s strong shoulders and hide. He could do this. Feeling Kevin’s hand glide down his back was very reassuring. He licked his lips and took a deep breath. They could do this.

Chapter 4 by Jamie
WITH THIS RING

Chapter Four

WEDDING DAY

Corey yawned and stretched as he woke up. Turning onto his stomach he snuggled his face into the pillow and sighed. He took a few minutes to enjoy feeling warm and snuggled in bed before sticking his head out of the blanket. When he reached for his phone 10:13 AM stared back at him. Unlocking the screen he found 5 unread messages.

He smiled sleepily and opened Matt’s message.

Good morning my gorgeous Prince. The day’s finally here. I’ll officially belong to you today!

Corey couldn’t help but laugh at how his calm fiancÚ could be so cute just to make him smile. He quickly sent a message back before setting his phone aside after a cursory glance at the other messages.

Turning onto his back he stretched out and yawned. He smiled when Nick entered his room.

“Good morning!”

Corey held his arms up and waited until Nick tugged him upright. “Good morning,” he said with a grin.

Nick took a seat and they sat staring at each other for a moment before coming together in a hug.

“You ready?” Nick asked once they’d pulled back.

Corey looked down at the ring on his finger before lifting his head and smiling.


-x-

Matt gave in and laughed.

Jake looked up in surprise from where he’d been scrolling through messages on his phone and looked at his son.

Matt tilted his head to indicate Richard.

“Dad’s staring at me again.”

Jake rolled his eyes and smacked his husband’s shoulder. “He’s fine, he’s ready, and he’s excited. Stop it!”

Richard rubbed his shoulder and shrugged. “Just checking!” He ignored Jake’s glare and continued, “You were a wreck before we got married.”

Matt quickly turned his laughter into a cough when his father turned his glare on him.

“Give him a break Dad; he was nervous about getting married to you. I’m perfectly content over marrying Corey.”

Jake smiled as his son and husband began teasing each other each other.


-x-

Robert wandered into the Spa and smiled. Corey, Nick, JC, AJ, Cara and Jerald were all getting massages. Cara was reading a magazine while her legs were being massaged and Nick was going through Corey’s wedding book. AJ, Corey, JC and Jerald seemed to be asleep.

Nick looked up from his book, smiled at his dad and waved.

Robert waved back and crouched down next to his son.

“What time are you boys proceeding for lunch?” he asked softly.

“Soon as we’re done here. Fifteen minutes I guess. Is everything ready?”

Robert nodded. “I’m going to go visit Matt now.”

Nick frowned. “Now?”

“I’d rather give it to him now than later in case he’s busy with pictures and such.”

“Oh, oh yeah! Now is better,” Nick agreed with a smile. “Thanks Dad.”

Robert smiled and ruffled Nick’s hair.


-x-

Matt smiled when he saw Robert enter the room with his father.

“Hey Robert,” Matt said while standing up and moving towards him.

“Hi Matt. I won’t take up too much of your time. I just wanted to give this to you,” Robert said and held out a simple white box to Matt.

Matt smiled in confusion and accepted the box. He opened it and looked at Robert in surprise.

“Wow, what’s this for?”

Robert smiled and squeezed Matt’s arm. “It’s for my Corey’s soon to be husband. You can’t say no,” he said when he saw the hesitant expression on Matt’s face.

Matt understood the significance of Robert giving him a present. He was showing him that Corey was a part of the Carter family.

“Thank you,” he said sincerely.


-x-

Kevin looked up from his book when he heard his room door open. He smiled when Nick came into view.

“I didn’t think I’d see you until later.”

Nick shrugged, “Corey’s taking a nap.”

Kevin put his book down and held his hand out to Nick. Nick smiled and crawled up the foot of the bed to settle down next to Kevin.

“Do you mind if I hang out here for a little while?” Nick asked softly.

Kevin settled his arm around Nick. “Not at all. Do you want to take a nap too?”

Nick turned until his cheek was pressed against Kevin’s shoulder. He yawned and shivered. “Hmm no, I’ll just hang for a bit.”

Kevin smiled and picked his book up.

Within minutes Nick was asleep.


-x-

AJ laughed as Brian trailed his lips up his neck. He tightened his arms around him and bared his neck further. “Don’t you have any best man duties to attend to?”

Brian nipped gently at AJ’s neck, “Trying to get rid of me?”

AJ sighed as Brian pressed their lips together.

“Not at all,” he murmured between kisses.


-x-

Jerald looked at the picture of Kevin and Nick that AJ had sent him. He sighed and looked at his wife.

“So you don’t want me to talk about marriage at all.”

Cara looked up from where she was blow drying her hair and met her husband’s eyes in the mirror. “Yes, I want you to let them make their own decisions without any pressure from any of us.”

“But,” Jerald began.

“No buts honey!” Cara interrupted firmly. “You will listen to him regarding this. I do not want to alienate our son or our godson. So you will let them figure this out on their own.”

On seeing her husband look doubtful she sighed and stood up to go sit beside him. “Jer, they’ve been together for some time now. They obviously like each other. Times are different now. They don’t have to go and get married just because they are dating.” She pressed her finger against his lips when he began to talk. “Uh uh, let me finish. I’m not saying they won’t want to get married. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But it should be their choice to make. Nicky’s so young! Granted I was only a little older than him when we got married but times are different now.”

She stroked his hair. “He’s only just finished university. He wants to study further. Let him decide how he wants to do this. If for nothing else, do this for Nicky.”

Jerald sighed and nodded. “Ok fine.”

Cara narrowed her eyes, “Promise me. Promise me you and Robert will not interfere.”

Jerald huffed and slid his hand into hers. “I promise.”

She smiled sweetly and leaned forward to brush their lips together. “Good boy. Now enjoy your pictures and let me get ready.”


-x-

AJ knocked on Matt’s bedroom door. “Dude you decent?”

“Yeah, come on in.”

AJ opened the door, smiling when he saw Matt fixing his tie. He quickly adjusted his camera setting and took a picture.

Matt looked up in surprise.

“I took pictures of Corey getting ready too,” AJ said.

“Corey’s ready?”

AJ nodded, “Yup. I got some good ones when your parents popped over there to see him.”

Matt smiled and stretched. “I expect you to put that camera down and enjoy yourself.”

“I do enjoy myself with this too,” he said while waving his camera. “I’m not taking it for the ceremony.”

“Good.”

“You ready to do this?” AJ asked with a grin. He could clearly see that Matt wasn’t displaying even a hint of nerves.

Matt grinned, “100 percent ready and eager to marry the man I love AJ.”

AJ took another picture and looked over his shoulder when he felt someone behind him.

“Hey,” Brian said softly, a warm smile on his face. He waited until AJ smiled back before focusing his attention on his best friend. “Need anything Sigmond?”

“You have the ring?”

AJ unobtrusively backed away until he could get both the men in his shot and began clicking.

“Rings. I’m holding onto yours too for Nick. I’ll give it to him when we get there,” Brian said.

Matt nodded and shook his arms to try and get rid of the excess energy building up in him. “Where’s Kevin?”

“Right here,” Kevin said as he entered the room. He held up a bottle of champagne and shook it gently. “Come outside. We’re ready to open this.”


-x-

Kyle allowed AJ exactly five minutes to take pictures of Matt and Corey before he forced him to hand over the camera and go stand with everyone.

Brian laughed at the pout on AJ’s face before sliding an arm around him and tugging him close.

The official wedding photographer cleared his throat while pointedly looking at Nick and Kevin.

Nick frowned at him in confusion.

Kyle rolled his eyes. “He wants you to go stand with your date. You’re kinda standing by yourself right now,” he elaborated.

“Oh,” Nick said and blushed when he realized AJ and Brian were standing together with Corey and Matt.

He quickly moved closer to Kevin and stood a little in front of him while Kevin slid his arm around Nick’s waist.

“Does everyone know we’re together?” Nick whispered softly to Kevin as their group moved towards the elevators.

“I’m sure word spread enough last night and through the day today. The photographer though was just doing his job. When Brian moved away from you and to AJ who is his date tonight, it was obvious that we had to stand together since I am your date Mr. Best Man,” Kevin explained.

“Oh! Ok,” Nick smiled. “I was worried there for a minute.”

Kevin gently grabbed Nick’s hand. “People are going to know now Nick. We’ll not be able to keep this quiet. Someone or the other is going to gossip and spread that gossip outside.”

Nick fought the urge to panic and squeezed Kevin’s hand. “No no, I know, I know. I knew this would happen. This was always going to be the consequence of wanting to kiss you in public. I’m ok, I’m ready. Really I am,” he assured Kevin.

Kevin smiled slightly and rubbed his thumb over Nick’s hand. “I didn’t doubt you were ready for even a second Nick. You don’t do things unless you are ready, we’re alike that way.”

Nick sighed and took a few deep breaths before entering the elevator with Kevin. It was time to enter the real world again. A world where he would now be known as Nickolas Carter, heir to the Carter fortune, Jerald and Cara Richardson’s godson and Kevin Richardson’s boyfriend.


-x-

When Corey smacked his lips together for the fifth time, Matt looked at his lips.

Corey caught his look and grinned, “Chocolate flavoured lip balm.”

Matt grinned and lowered his head to kiss him only to find Nick’s hand shielding Corey’s lips.

“Uh uh! Not yet.”

Matt narrowed his eyes at Nick while his friends laughed at him. Corey nudged him gently and smiled. Matt smiled and pressed his lips against Corey’s forehead.


-x-

Corey held on tight to Matt’s hand, his heart pounding in his chest as they entered the hotel lobby. He looked around to distract himself from his nerves and smiled when Nick quickly pointed out Matt and Corey’s initials arranged in flowers find the type of flower on the ground.

They stopped in front of it so that the photographer could get more pictures of him and Matt.

He looked around in confusion when they arrived back at the outdoor area where their welcome dinner had been held. He looked at Matt who shook his head.

“Not here. Down there.”

“Oh my god!” Corey gasped when he looked down and saw the pool area. He turned around and looked at Matt and Nick, “Seriously? Seriously!”

Matt and Nick shared a smile before Corey wrapped his arms around Matt in a hug.

Kevin looked down to see what was exciting Corey so much and laughed in surprise when he saw the platform on the swimming pool. “They are getting married on the pool?” he asked Nick.

Nick grinned and nodded.

Matt looked into Corey’s smiling face. “Ready to marry me baby?”

Corey nodded, his nerves having been blown away by his laughter and happiness. “I’m ready.”


-x-

The gathered guests stood as Music from Twilight began playing. Corey and Matt walked hand in hand down the stairs as Nick and Brian followed close behind. AJ stood ready with his camera and had already begun snapping pictures. Maybe he doesn’t take pictures and just sits with Kevin.

Corey stopped as he came across his parents and allowed them to draw him into a hug. He smiled at them and continued on with Matt.

Jake and Richard were waiting for them at the entrance to the platform set up on the water. Corey gave them a bright smile and reached out to squeeze Jake’s hand.

Matt squeezed Corey’s hand as they took a step forward and onto the platform. Corey hesitated for a moment before confidently walking forward with Matt. It was time to begin his new life.


-x-

Corey smiled nervously at Matt when it came time to say their vows. He swallowed hard and turned a little to look at Nick who nodded encouragingly.

He licked his lips and looked into Matt’s eyes. “To the world Matt, you may be one person, but to me, you are the world.” He paused and looked down for a moment before lifting his head up to meet Matt’s eyes again. “I wrote your name in the sky, but the wind blew it away. I wrote your name in the sand, but the water washed it away. I wrote your name in my heart and there forever it will stay.”

Nick grinned at the awww’s they could hear come from the guests watching as Corey got through it without allowing his nerves to get the better of him.

Matt smiled, “When I sleep, I dream of the same thing. That’s you. When I see you, it’s like a dream come true. With you in my life, my world is perfect.”

Corey smiled, his eyes sparkling with unshed tears as they exchanged rings.


-x-

Exactly eighty minutes later Corey sat in his room staring down at his hand. A beautiful diamond band rested against his engagement ring.

He was a married man.

He was finding it a little hard to believe that he was married. It was done. Over with. Months of nerves building up, people pressuring him to make decisions on the cake, the clothes, the location, the ceremony, the rings, the food, the give away gifts. It was done. It had all boiled down to him getting married, which he now was.

He was officially Corey Sigmond in the eyes of his friends and society.

He felt strange. Was he supposed to feel this different? He had the most insane urge to dance around the room in glee. He could control his feet from doing so but he couldn’t control his mouth from widening in a big smile.

He laughed and buried his face in his hands, his shoulders shaking with giggles of happiness, nerves, relief and freedom.

“Now that’s a sound I enjoy hearing very much.”

Corey looked up and tried to control his giggles when he saw his husband standing in the doorway. He was partially successful.

Matt smiled and sat down next to Corey. They spent a long moment just enjoying the simple pleasure of looking into each other’s eyes. They slowly leaned toward each other and allowed their lips to brush together several times in soft kisses before Matt pressed his lips firmly against Corey’s in a deep kiss.

Corey moaned and held onto Matt’s arms before sliding his arms around his neck, allowing his fingers to bury themselves in Matt’s thick hair. Matt sighed, slid his hands down Corey’s side and began inching his shirt out of his pants.

“Whoa, hey hey hey, now’s not the time for this boys,” Richard said with a laugh as he entered the room.

Corey could feel his ears and cheeks flushing in embarrassment as he hurriedly tried to pull away from Matt. Matt on the other hand groaned and refused to let go.

“Thanks a lot Dad,” he said with a growl.

Richard grinned as Corey took one look at him and buried his face in Matt’s shoulder. “You’re welcome my son. Now hurry up and finish getting dressed. Your dad and I are going down.”

As soon as Corey heard Richard leave the room he groaned and pulled back to cover his face. “Oh my god! Oh my god!”

Matt chuckled and pushed Corey’s shirt collar aside to kiss along his neck.

“Matt!” Corey hissed and pulled back a little.

“What?” Matt asked innocently. “He’s gone. Don’t you want me to kiss you?”

Corey pouted slightly and shook his head. Matt smiled and trailed his fingers down Corey’s cheek.

“You want me to, I want to, so what’s the problem?” Matt asked before he captured Corey’s lips in a kiss.

“The problem is that your guests are expecting you two downstairs for dinner. That won’t happen anytime soon if you two don’t get dressed.”

Matt broke the kiss and turned his head to look at the man standing in the doorway. “You’re a real kill joy Carter.”

Nick grinned and waved the key card in his hand. “Your dad asked me to make sure you stop romancing their son and get your ass downstairs.”

Corey had been looking at Nick with a shy smile on his face which turned into a big happy one on hearing himself being referred to as Jake and Richard’s son.

“Come on Core, you come get ready in your room since your husband obviously can’t keep his hands off you long enough to allow you to do so and to get ready himself.”

Nick smiled as Corey stood up and then shyly leaned down to kiss Matt. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

Matt smiled and squeezed Corey’s hand. “I’ll come to your room as soon as I’m ready.”

Corey grabbed onto the sleeve of Nick’s shirt the moment he reached him to ground himself and started speaking softly as they left the room.

Matt smiled when he heard a little of what Corey said. Now, life was perfect.

“I’m married Nicky, can you believe it? Richard called me son!”


-x-

Nick carefully fed Corey small bites of an apple while JC dried his hair. The humidity was pretty high and led to all of them requiring a shower before the reception.

Corey’s head whipped around to stare at the door as soon as he heard a knock.

“Hey! Stop that!” JC scolded while holding his head and turning it back in place.

Corey pouted as AJ moved towards the door while towelling his hair dry.

“Hey guys, come on in.”

Corey stared at the mirror and smiled when he saw Matt, Brian and Kevin’s reflection in the mirror. He grinned when he saw the way Brian was checking AJ out. JC tugged a little on his hair and shook his head so that he wouldn’t comment on it. Corey shrugged and opened his mouth for the next piece of apple Nick held out.

Matt reached his hand out towards Corey and made a grabby motion with his hand. Corey grinned and shook his head. Matt turned his lips into a very fake pout before smiling and winking at his husband. Corey smiled and opened his mouth for another piece of apple only to blush when he caught Matt staring at his lips as he licked them.

Unbeknownst to them, AJ was standing in the corner and capturing all of it on camera and Kevin on video.


-x-

Monique squeezed Robert’s elbow. “Darling where’s Nickolas? I’d like a picture with him.”

“He’s with Corey Monique. You can catch him after the reception I’m sure.”

“Oh,” she said with a slight frown and allowed him to get back to his conversation with a friend.

She moved towards the list on the table by the guest book to see which table Nickolas and Annaliese were on for the sit down dinner. She quickly found that Annaliese was to be seated next to her but couldn’t find Nick’s on the list. She spent the next fifteen minutes trying and failing to figure out where Nickolas would be seated.


-x-

“So everyone’s having cocktails right now?” Corey asked while JC expertly tied his bow tie.

“Yes, cocktails began at six. The bar will be closed in a few minutes and then opened again post dinner for anyone who desires a drink,” JC calmly explained again.

All of them understood that Corey was nervous about being the centre of everyone’s attention again and the dinner being a sit down meant he couldn’t even hide behind anyone like he did at the other parties.

He sighed when Matt wrapped his arms around him from behind and gently held on.

JC took a step back and surveyed Corey from head to toe before waving his hand at Matt. Matt quickly took his place at Corey’s side so that JC could do a final check on them.

He nodded, “We’re good to go!”

“Not yet,” Nick said with a smile. He held out a box of Godiva chocolates to Corey who grinned and lifted the lid. “Its tradition,” he explained to Kevin and Brian as he passed the box around. “Corey, AJ and me, we toast to our happiest moments with chocolate. So here’s to Corey and Matthew, best wishes for a long, happy, and healthy, love filled lifetime ahead.”

Corey bumped his piece of chocolate against Nick and AJ’s before laughing and doing the same with the others. He looked at Matt as he popped the piece of chocolate into his mouth, knowing better than to chance JC’s wrath by biting into it.


-x-

Jake nudged Richard. “I don’t think Corey will handle walking down and seeing all these people staring at him.”

Richard took a quick look around before nodding at his husband. “I agree. What do you suggest?”

“Let’s open the doors. Everyone can take their seats and Corey, Matthew, Nick and Brian can walk in together and take their seats.”

Richard shrugged, “Sounds perfect. It’s what Matt and Nick had wanted to begin with.”

Jake refrained from rolling his eyes, “I know but the downside of Corey’s parents involving themselves and having some say in the planning process meant they went ahead and insisted on this.” He sighed and shook his head, “He’s our son now Rich, I’m not going to deliberately allow him to walk into a situation that makes him uncomfortable.”

Richard brushed his lips against Jake’s. “I’ll take care of his parents if they say anything. You ask Kyle to open the doors and get people in.”

Jake smiled as he watched Richard stride away before turning and making his way to where he knew Kyle was hovering.


-x-

Monique subtly looked around for her daughter as everyone began moving into the banquet room to take their seats. She smiled as Robert slid his arm around her.

“Where’s Annaliese?”

She forced her smile to stay in place, “She must be around here somewhere with Jessica darling.”

She sat down in the chair Robert held out for her. She swallowed hard when she saw Cara sitting opposite her wearing the Richardson diamond heart set. She still held out hope on her daughter wearing those diamonds some day in the future. It was said that Kevin’s great, great grandfather had collected diamonds to be passed down to his family. There was the diamond heart that Cara was wearing for the brides of the family and the men who married into the family were given a simple, yet gorgeous diamond necklace with each diamond being at least a five carat. She did not want to see that necklace around Nickolas’ neck!

Forcing her face back into a smile she took a quick look around and stopped in surprise when she saw Jessica sitting at a table nearby with her parents.

She looked up when a slight buzz went through the crowd and saw it was because Kevin had just walked in. As one of the most eligible bachelors around, he was always surrounded at any social event that he attended.

Kevin and Nick kissing still set off a low burn within her. She had to find out what was going on and broach the topic of Annaliese and Kevin’s marriage to Robert as soon as they were back home.

A lot of eyes were on Kevin who had just taken a seat next to AJ at the only unoccupied table in the entire room. Before Monique could look for Nick, the doors to the room opened and people began applauding.


-x-

Corey’s fingers tightened on Matt’s arm as they walked into the room where their reception was being held. A freak out is most definitely in my future, he thought, as they were the centre of all eyes. People began standing up as they applauded causing Corey’s throat to begin closing up.

Matt turned his head and brushed his lips against Corey’s ear. “I love you. You’re doing great.”

Corey sighed deeply and licked his lips, calming down from deep panic to normal adrenaline at being faced with so many strangers. He resisted the urge to turn and look back at Nick who was walking behind them with Brian and smiled and nodded at people as Matt led them to the table where AJ, JC and Kevin were waiting for them.

He smiled as he sat down in the chair Matt held out for him and sighed as his friends sat down around him. He felt secure and protected with his friends surrounding them and Matt next to him.

“What’s this?” Corey asked softly when he saw the plate set down in front of him.

The server smiled at Corey, “The antipasto sir, Proscuitto E Melone or if you prefer a meatless antipasti we have Melanzane Parmigiano.”

Corey smiled at him, “No, this is fine, thank you.”

He took a quick peek at his parents table and was relieved to see that they seemed to be enjoying the food. Feeling Nick’s gaze on him, he turned and shook his head with a grin as he picked up his fork.

A few minutes later Nick nudged Corey and directed his attention to the next table.

“Thank you dear friends for taking the time and making the effort to be here with us,” Jake said from where he was standing by his table. “We appreciate your support and love as we welcome Corey into our family.”

As soon as Jake sat down, servers began moving through the room to serve the first course of the meal.

Corey caught Jake’s eye and smiled. Jake smiled back and blew him a kiss causing Corey to laugh. Matt winked at his dad and kissed Corey’s cheek.

“Everyone has different choices for all the courses?” Corey asked Matt softly.

“Everyone was provided with the menu this morning. They just had to decide what they would like to eat. Only we are being given the option to pick whatever we’d like,” Matt explained while placing his hand on Corey’s thigh and soothingly sliding it up and down.

Corey swallowed nervously and licked his lips while looking into Matt’s eyes. They slowly leaned into each other and kissed.

“Ok so far?”

Corey nodded, “It’s good that you and Nicky didn’t tell me anything about the wedding. I prefer everything being a surprise.”

Matt smiled and squeezed Corey’s thigh as their server cleared their plates away.

“What can I serve you as the primo sir?”

“Luke,” Matt said to their server, “please tell Corey all his options. He doesn’t know what’s being served.”

“Certainly sir!” Their server Luke turned his attention to Corey. “We have a Tutto Mare, Penne Al Forno, Tagliatelle Al Salmone and the meatless options are Conchiglie Rigate, Ravioli and Penne Ai Quattro Formaggi.”

Matt grinned when he saw Corey’s eyes widen with every option presented to him. He squeezed Corey’s thigh. Corey smiled slightly and saw what had been placed before Matt before looking at Luke.

“Um I’d like the Conchiglie Rigate. Thank you.”

When the servers moved away Corey closed his eyes and took a slow deep breath. He opened his eyes and accepted the glass of champagne that Matt held out to him. They clinked their glasses together they took a sip.

The music was turned down as Richard walked up to the microphone. He smiled out at the people looking back at him, looked at his husband as he began speaking.

“Love is just a word until someone gives it meaning. A good marriage is that in which each appoints the other guardian of his solitude.” He paused and looked down before looking back up.

“I’d like to share a story. There was once a sweet man who got married. When it came time to leave his parents house he asked his parents, if you love me so much then why are you sending me away? His parents smiled and told him they couldn’t answer his question at that moment and wished him well in his new life.” He paused to clear his throat. “Years passed and one day when their son was visiting them, his father told him that they missed him and asked him not to go back, to stay with them. The son was surprised and said if I stay here with you then what will happen to my family? They’ll miss me; they won’t be comfortable without me.”

Richard looked at Corey who was sitting forward in his seat, his hand gripping Matt’s as he waited to hear the rest of the story. “The father said today you have the answer to the question you asked me when you got married. I had to let you go so that you could form a bond with your family. We will always be your family but now you understand what it is to be a husband, a son in law, a father. Now you know the complete meaning of family from every aspect of life.”

Richard smiled at Jake before looking at Corey. “That young man is Jake.”

Corey’s mouth dropped mouth, he turned to look at Jake who smiling at Richard.

“Every doubt, worry, confusion both of you may go through is entirely normal. We’ve been through it ourselves. Communicate with each other and you will be able to overcome anything life throws at you. Welcome to the family Corey. I wish both of you the best life has to offer. Be happy and smile always.”

Corey stood up as Richard passed his table to hug him. Richard rubbed Corey’s back and whispered in his ear before guiding him back in his seat and going to his own.

Corey cleared his throat and took a sip of his water, blinking rapidly to control his emotions.

Matt pressed his lips against Corey’s ear. “Love you.”

Corey blushed and looked at Matt, his eyes shining with unshed tears.

When the sorbet was served as a palate cleanser Corey noticed that the seat next to Monique was empty. He frowned in confusion and leaned into Nick. “Who’s supposed to be sitting next to Monique?”

Nick took a quick look at Monique. “Annaliese. I wonder where she is. Monique does not look happy.”

“Maybe she’s with Jessica? They could have decided to skip the reception,” Corey suggested.

Nick shook his head, “Nope. Jessica is sitting two tables behind and to the left with her parents.”

Something dawned on Nick who had to bite back a smile. “If she came late, she probably wasn’t allowed in.”

Corey frowned in confusion and looked at Nick.

Nick smiled gently, “Anyone who arrived late was going to be stopped and asked to wait outside until you were safely in your seat.”

Corey’s eyes widened. “So if she was stopped outside, well how long for?”

Nick shrugged, “10 minutes? It depends on when she wanted to enter.”

Corey lowered his head so that no one could see how hard he was trying not to laugh.


-x-

As the next course was being served Nick and Brian stood up and made their way to the centre of the room.

“It’s no secret that Corey and Nick and Matt and I have known each other since we were children. We’ve grown up and gone through a lot together,” Brian said.

“And we’re still growing together.” Nick smiled at Brian, “Through the years we’ve been each other’s support system, strength, friend, brother, mentor and life.”

“It’s very easy for me to see the change that has come over Matt from the day he first met Corey. He was captivated and began falling in love,” Brian smiled at Matt and Corey. “To see them together now, two hearts joined as one, fills me with joy I can’t even begin to describe.”

“Today Brian and I have given up our claim as the number one person in Matt and Corey’s life. And it feels good,” Nick let out a little laugh. “I never thought I’d be so happy being the number two man Core, but I am.”

“Matt and Corey, happy marriages begin when we marry the one we love and they blossom when we love the one we married,” Brian said gently while looking at them.

“To Corey and Matthew Sigmond, here’s wishing you a lifetime of love, happiness, good health and laughter,” Nick said as they raised their glass to the happy couple.

Corey pressed himself into Nick’s arms and whispered thank you in his ear. Nick smiled and pressed his lips against Corey’s hair.

Kevin slid his hand onto Nick’s thigh as he sat down and squeezed gently. “That was perfect.”

Nick slid his hand onto Kevin’s, “Yeah? Not too boring or sappy or anything?”

“It was elegant, short, simple and sweet. Perfect.”

Nick smiled and squeezed Kevin’s hand in thanks.


-x-

Twenty minutes later Matt stood up and faced his guests with a smile. “First let me just say a big thank you to all of you for the time and effort you’ve spent to come all this way for us. Our wedding wouldn’t have been the same without each and every one of you here.” He paused before continuing. “I knew what I wanted out of life from a very young age. As most of you know, my father raised me and worked, while my dad continued working and flourished in his career. They made sure that between them, one of us was always available to me. I knew from the time I could understand that, that this is what I want. A partnership which is equal.”

He smiled at his parents. “I couldn’t have asked for better role models. So while I knew what I wanted, it got a little tricky to actually find the one I was convinced would be the one I could bare my soul to. When I met Corey all the ideas I’d had in my head about what my life should be took shape around me. The past couple of years had made me feel quite jaded with life. I felt there were only a few people I could just be me around. With Corey I can finally be only who I am, exactly who I am because that’s all he wants from me.”

Matt looked down before smiling as he walked towards Corey. “I’d like forever with you and it begins today,” he said as he took Corey’s hand and tugged him up.

Corey smiled and pressed his lips against Matt’s. “Forever,” he whispered.

They walked hand in hand towards where their wedding cake had been set up as people applauded.

Corey looked at Matt in surprise when he saw the four tier white wedding cake. He hadn’t noticed it when he’d walked in earlier.

Matt smiled and indicated the knife on the table. “My parents used the same knife at their wedding,” he said softly.

Corey looked at Matt in surprise before smiling delightedly. He gently picked up the knife and looked at Matt who slid his hand over Corey’s. They cut the first layer and pulled out a piece. Matt carefully held it up to Corey’s lips and laughed as Corey licked a little bit of the frosting before breaking off a small piece and feeding Matt.


-x-

As Corey and Matt began walking around meeting their guests and stopping for pictures with them, servers quickly took the cake away and began cutting it into pieces to serve with dessert.

Nick smiled and nudged Kevin when he saw AJ and Brian sitting with their heads bent close together. Kevin gently nudged him back.

“Brian looks happy. I’m glad.”

Nick sat back contently and sipped his champagne as he was finally able to relax. Everything had gone off perfectly; his best friend was happy and married.


-x-

Corey sighed as Matt’s arms tightened around him as they swayed to the music.

“Been a really good day,” Corey mumbled contently from where his head was resting on Matt’s shoulder.

Matt brushed his lips against Corey’s hair, inhaling his scent. “I love you.”

Corey lifted his head to stare at Matt, a soft smile on his face. He went up on his toes, slid his hand behind Matt’s neck and tugged him into a kiss. “I love you,” he said with a shy smile when he pulled back.

They didn’t know how long they stood there staring into each other’s eyes until Richard put his hand on their back. Corey looked at his father in law and blushed. Richard smiled and drew Corey into a gentle one armed hug before doing the same to Matt.

“People seem to be content to enjoy their drinks by the bar. You guys can go on to your room if you want to.”

Matt and Richard could both feel Corey’s body stiffen up as he swallowed hard. He quickly lowered his eyes so that they couldn’t read him as he tried to get a handle on his nerves.

“Matthew, Richard, please go say bye to Annette and Carlos. They are leaving early tomorrow morning,” Jake said as he joined them.

Jake tilted his head indicating that they should go. He put his arm around Corey and smiled at his son and husband. ‘Go,’ he mouthed at them. They followed his instruction, used to him bossing them around. Matt squeezed Corey’s hand as he left.

Jake waited until they had walked away before speaking softly to his son in law. “How’re you holding up sweetheart? You’ve been amazing so far. I’m incredibly proud of you.”

Corey’s head jerked up, his eyes finding and holding Jake’s light green ones. He swallowed hard. “I…” Jake rubbed his back, his arm around him in such a way that he was shielding Corey from anyone’s eyes with his own body. “I feel very overwhelmed,” he whispered.

Jake squeezed Corey gently. “I’d be surprised if you weren’t. I was a wreck on my wedding day. You’ve been perfectly poised, composed and genuinely yourself Corey which is what I’ve always appreciated and adored about you.”

Corey allowed himself to accept the comfort Jake was offering and rested his head against the taller man’s chest.

“This is something I wish someone other than Richard had said to me on my wedding night. So please forgive me if I’m overstepping Corey.”

Corey looked up at Jake, his eyes wide.

“It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, it’s ok to feel nervous and scared, it’s ok to just want to sleep.” He gently continued rubbing Corey’s back. “Don’t think anything is expected of you.”

Corey blushed and looked down before meeting Jake’s eyes again. “My… my mom said it’s my golden night.”

Jake laughed and rolled his eyes. “It sure is if you’re ready for that. Every night will be golden because you’re with the person you love. Don’t give in to this nonsense of this night being something special and that you’ll be missing out if you want to take your time.” He sighed and shrugged. “You’re tired, you’ve been nervous and excited for hours, it all adds up. Trust me when I tell you that Matthew doesn’t expect anything from you. He just needs you to be yourself. If all you want to do is cuddle up to him and sleep, he’ll love it.”

Corey turned and allowed himself to hug Jake, glad when the older man hugged him back. “Thank you Jake,” he whispered.

“You’re welcome kid. Stop worrying so much.”

Corey sighed and allowed himself a moment to just feel a concerned parent hugging him.

“Hey guys,” Nick said softly as he joined them. He smiled when Corey lifted his head and smiled slightly in return.

Corey rubbed his eye as took a small step back from Jake. “Where you been?”

“I sent him to get your room ready,” Jake said.

Corey blinked in confusion before deciding not to question Jake. Matt’s parents were forever trying to take care of him and indulge him.

“Ready to get outta here babe?”

He smiled when Matt joined them and nodded.


-x-

Corey looked at Nick in confusion when he noticed Kevin, AJ, Brian, JC, Kyle, Richard and Robert standing around together in the hallway.

Nick smiled and moved to stand with Kevin and Jake joined Richard. He yelped in surprise when he suddenly found himself being lifted up into Matt’s arms.

Matt laughed at Corey’s surprise and kissed him. “Have to carry you over the threshold sweetheart, its tradition.”

Corey groaned and pressed his face into Matt’s shoulder for a moment before joining in the laughter around him as Matt walked into the room with him. They shared a smile as Matt carefully lowered Corey down, grinning when Corey punched his shoulder.

“You could’ve warned me!”

“What would be the fun in that? It’s not like you didn’t know I would be doing this,” Matt said with a laugh.

“I thought you would do it at home, not here!”

“I will be doing it again at home,” Matt promised.

Corey shook his head with a smile as everyone around them wished them well and congratulated them once again.

A few minutes later he shut the door after exchanging a long hug with Nick. Biting his lip he locked the door and turned slowly to find Matt watching him.

Matt held his hand out and smiled when Corey walked up to him and took his hand.

Matt ran his hand lightly through Corey’s hair, “Tired?”

Just then Corey covered his mouth as he yawned and nodded. Matt could read the exhaustion in Corey’s eyes, his body. Placing a kiss on Corey’s forehead Matt proceeded to take off Corey’s tie and jacket.

Corey shivered his eyes wide as Matt began undressing him. Matt opened a few buttons on Corey’s shirt before rubbing his thumb along Corey’s cheek.

“Go take a shower, you’ll feel better. Then you can sleep or if you’re hungry there’s some food here.”

Corey hesitantly nodded. “I’m not very hungry; I don’t think I’ll eat. I’ll um shower.”

He quickly took off for the bathroom and shut the door behind him, resisting the urge to lock it. He tugged his shirt off and dropped it on the chair in the wardrobe area before stripping off the rest of his clothes. He hesitated after taking off his watch and looked at his rings before deciding to leave them on.

‘What the hell is wrong with me,’ Corey thought. ‘Three days ago I was practically throwing myself into his arms and today I’m behaving like a right idiot!’

He turned on the shower with a growl before jumping back in shock at the cold water that hit him. He quickly turned on the hot water and scrubbed himself clean before shampooing out the product JC had put on his hair.

10 minutes later Corey had dried himself before he realized he didn’t have any clothes there with him. He closed his eyes and counted to ten before taking a deep breath and walking out of the bathroom.

Matt looked up when he heard Corey gasp. He set his phone down and quickly walked up to his husband.

“What’s wrong?” he asked worriedly.

“Cold,” Corey muttered, shivering as the cold air in the room rushed over his freshly showered body and hair.

Matt hugged Corey and rubbed his back to warm him. “Sorry, I forgot to put your bag inside. Your clothes are right here.”

Corey tightened his arms around Matt when he made to move away from him. “Hmm gimme a minute.”

Matt rubbed his cheek against Corey’s wet hair. “You can have as many minutes as you desire.”

A few minutes later Matt shut the bathroom door behind him as Corey opened the overnight bag JC had packed for him. He frowned when he pulled out a pair of black silk sleep pants.

Just great, he thought as he tossed the towel onto the couch and tugged the sleep pants on. He finger combed his hair while tugging the blankets on the bed out and sliding onto the cool sheet. He lay his head down with the intention of resting his eyes while listening to the sound of the shower.


-x-

Matt smiled as he carefully tugged the blankets up to cover Corey. He gently brushed his fingers along Corey’s hair to push the damp strands off of his forehead.

After checking to make sure that his phone was on silent Matt slid into bed and winced as he woke Corey up.

“Hmm Matt,” Corey sighed and turned towards him.

“Shhh love,” Matt said softly while rubbing Corey’s arm. “Go back to sleep, I’m sorry I woke you.”

Corey’s eyes fluttered open. “Sleep for long?” he asked as he rubbed his eye.

Matt smiled and slid his hand up to run his fingers through Corey’s hair. “No too long, around forty minutes.”

“Forty!” Corey’s eyes opened wide. “Why didn’t you wake me?” he asked shyly.

Matt moved closer to Corey and began to stroke Corey’s back. “You seemed very peaceful and tired. I didn’t want to disturb your rest.”

“Oh.” Corey looked into Matt’s eyes, his mind feeling as if it was wrapped in cotton wool.

“Let’s sleep love,” Matt urged softly as he tugged Corey into his arms.

“You sure?” Corey asked in sleepy confusion while snuggling close to Matt and rubbing his cheek on his shoulder.

“Sure,” Matt said as he pressed his lips against Corey’s hair.

“I love you Matt,” Corey whispered, his eyes drooping shut.

Matt smiled, happiness radiating out of him. “I love you my Core.”

Chapter End Notes:
Thank you everyone for your kind words and continued support.

To answer those of you who have been curious, yes a lot of the randomness in this story regarding the wedding is what J and I experienced at our ceremony. Which is also why it's taken me so long to allow CJ to post the chapters. I found it extremely difficult to let go of my hold on that part of my life. I'm sorry for the delay.
-Cole
Chapter 5 by Jamie

Every story has an end; every end has a new beginning. This is merely the end of a chapter in the lives of our friends.

Weak sunlight shone over the bed as Corey pushed his arms above his head and stretched his body out. He froze while turning over to go back to sleep as awareness shot through him.

There was an arm across his waist.

He lifted the sheet up and peered at the arm on him. He blushed when he noticed the gold ring on the hand and turned his head to look at his husband.

Blue eyes peered back at him as Matt sleepily tugged him close and nuzzled the back of his neck.

“Morning,” Corey whispered.

Matt kissed Corey’s shoulder. “Morning.”

They shifted until they found a position comfortable for both of them. Matt ended up with his chin on Corey’s shoulder as the smaller man tucked himself into his arms.

“Do you want to get up or should we get a little more sleep?” Matt asked while trailing his hand up and down Corey’s stomach.

Corey shivered at the sensation of Matt’s hand as he settled the sheets around their shoulders and nodded. “More sleep. Need sleep.”

Matt smiled and pressed his lips against Corey’s hair. “Sleep.”




“So I was thinking,” Brian began tentatively, “that I’d ask you to spend the summer with me, in LA, since you said you don’t have any plans. But I don’t want you to think I’m trying to,” he shrugged uncomfortable. “I don’t know what I’m trying to say.”

AJ refrained from laughing at the hopeless expression on Brian’s face. He managed to limit himself to a smile.

“You want me to spend the summer in LA where I will be accessible to you but you don’t want to complicate things by asking me to spend the summer with you?”

“No!” Brian said firmly. He sighed and rubbed his face. “I want you to spend the summer in LA where I can spend more time with you. I don’t want it to seem like I want you around just for sex.” He looked down and shook his head. Lifting his head he looked into AJ’s eyes. “I want to get to know you, spend time with you, but I don’t want you to feel pressured into anything.” He shrugged. “This is a new situation for me. I’ve never been attracted to a guy before, I don’t know what I’m doing here.”

AJ stared at Brian in surprise. He’d known the man was sweet. Corey found him adorably sweet. AJ had figured the man had to be sweet and nice to his friend’s fiancÚ. But to just lay himself out this way… he shook his head and smiled.

“I’d love to spend the summer with you Brian.” He slid his hand onto Brian’s knee and squeezed. “This is a new situation for me too. I’ve not had the time to date much. It’s nice to know that you don’t expect anything from me which is why it’s easy for me to tell you that I enjoy being with you.”

They smiled at each other as Brian tugged on AJ’s hand until he stood up from the chair he’d been sitting on and allowed Brian to tug him into his lap.

“Thank you Alex.” Brian cupped AJ’s cheek and drew him into a kiss. The first of many that morning.




Nick groaned as the cold bathroom tile began warming against his back while Kevin kissed and nipped along his neck.

“Kevin,” Nick sighed and tilted his head back to give Kevin more access.

He slid his fingers through Kevin’s hair. “We’re supposed to meet your parents for breakfast,” he moaned as Kevin began kissing his shoulder.

“Whose brilliant idea was that?” Kevin asked while trailing his lips back up to Nick’s neck.

“Jerald’s.”

He whined when Kevin pulled away and raised his head to look at him. Kevin pressed his hands flat on either side of Nick’s head and leaned into him.

“Couldn’t you have gotten us out of it?”

Nick pouted and trailed his hand over Kevin’s firm chest. His very firm chest with water droplets on it which were calling to Nick to lick them up.

“But he asked so nicely,” Nick distractedly said, his eyes fixed on the drop of water that slid into Kevin’s navel.

Kevin leaned closer and spoke softly in Nick’s ear. “I’ll thank you even nicer if you can get us out of it.” He blew gently on Nick’s ear before biting down on the lobe.

Nick moaned and pressed himself into Kevin’s arms. “Cheaters both of you!”

“How so,” Kevin asked while holding Nick tight in his arms and rubbing his hands against Nick’s cold back to warm him up.

“He coaxed me into it with candy; you’re trying to coax me out of it with sex!”

Kevin couldn’t help but laugh at Nick’s sulking tone.

“You really want us to go?” He asked carefully. He turned off the shower and handed Nick a towel.

Nick wiped his face and nodded. “I’ll make sure we get out fast. We’re meeting Matt and Core for lunch so we have the perfect excuse to leave too.”

Kevin sighed and rubbed the towel over his hair.

“This way I didn’t have to say no and I’ll get you out of there with a minimum of fuss.”

Kevin realized Nick was in a difficult position and he wasn’t making things any easier. He nodded and gave in before leaning forward to capture Nick’s lips in a soft kiss.

Nick smiled and wrapped his arms around Kevin, happy that Kevin wasn’t upset.




Nick smiled as he and Cara kept the conversation flowing while Kevin only spoke when spoken to. He kept a firm hold on Kevin’s thigh with his left hand and squeezed down often to remind Kevin that he wasn’t ignoring him.

Kevin was unsure as to what to do over breakfast other than let Nick and his parents lead the conversation. It had been a long time since he’d spent any major time with his father and didn’t know what to say or do or in this case not say or do in order to have a peaceful time.

Nick cut his stack of pancakes in half and smiled at the look Kevin gave him as he slid half the stack onto Kevin’s plate.

“Eat up!”

Kevin rolled his eyes but obeyed and picked up his knife and fork.

“What are your plans for the rest of the day boys?” Cara asked.

Nick glanced at Kevin who shrugged. He rolled his eyes at his boyfriend before smiling at his godmother.

“We’re meeting Corey and Matt for lunch. We thought we’d go play tourists later if we have time.”

“And there’s dinner later,” Cara said. “Jake and Richard invited us for dinner.”

“Oh that’s right, I forgot to tell you,” Kevin said to Nick. “Jake told me about it last night. They invited everyone who is staying today for dinner. It’s at the Italian restaurant where they hosted dinner the first night.”

“Cool,” Nick smiled and squeezed Kevin’s thigh.




“That wasn’t so bad now was it?” Nick asked as they walked back to their room a little while later.

“With you around and mom around playing buffer it was tolerable.”

Nick nudged Kevin with his shoulder and smiled when Kevin slid his arm around Nick’s shoulder.

“How did we end up with plans to have lunch with Corey and Matt today?” Kevin asked a little later as he went through his emails.

Nick who had been using Kevin’s stomach as his pillow turned to look at him. “Umm Matt told me about it so I’m guessing it was his idea. Why?”

Kevin trailed a finger down Nick’s cheek. “I thought maybe they’d like to take the day to themselves.”

Nick shifted and moved up the bed, gently draping himself over Kevin. “Maybe he just wants Core to have us around.”

Kevin wrapped his arms around Nick and set his phone aside.

“Do you think you could take a few days off at the end of the month?” Nick asked hesitantly. “AJ and I plan to head to Vegas for a little trip.”

“Vegas… that sounds like a good time.”

Nick looked into Kevin’s sparkling eyes and knew he was teasing him. He sighed and poked Kevin’s chin.

“Kevin would you be interested in joining AJ and me in Las Vegas at the end of the month for a few days.”

Kevin smiled, “I’d like that very much Nick. Thank you for inviting me.”

Nick rolled his eyes and grinned. Kevin slid his hand into Nick’s hair and drew him down into a kiss.




Corey stared at his reflection in shock. He whirled around and pointed accusingly at his husband. “You gave me a hickey!”

Matt finished strapping his watch on with a laugh. “Yes, you felt me do it.”

Corey pouted and pointed at the dark mark on his neck. “Look! It’s all dark and big and everyone will see it!”

Matt wrapped his arms around Corey and placed a gentle kiss on the mark he’d left on his husband’s fair skin. “I’m sorry baby; the hot shower you took must have brought out the color.”

“Everyone will see,” Corey whispered while holding onto Matt’s t-shirt.

Matt began running his hands up and down Corey’s back. “I’m sorry darling; I didn’t know it would upset you so.”

Corey lifted his head up and sighed. “I,” he hesitated before continuing, “I saw Nick with one a few weeks ago. When he wore a shirt it got covered up.”

“I know, I saw it too.”

Corey rubbed at his neck, his fingers pressing against the hickey, a slight blush on his face.

Matt tilted Corey’s chin up. “Would you prefer if I picked a better spot next time or not do it at all?”

Corey’s blush deepened but he didn’t break eye contact with his husband. “The former.”

They smiled at each other as Matt lowered his head to claim Corey’s lips in a kiss.




AJ laughed as Brian carefully grabbed his camera and began taking his picture.

“What’re you doing?” AJ asked as he tried to grab the camera back.

“No way Alex! You’ve taken enough pictures of me, now it’s my turn.”

AJ grinned and threw up his arms. “Ok ok!”

He spent the next fifteen minutes following Brian’s instructions and posing the way he wanted him to.

AJ eventually grabbed the camera back and changed a few settings before twisting it around and taking pictures of both of them together.

Brian wrapped his arms around AJ and pressed their cheeks together for a picture. AJ took the shot before turning to look at Brian who took advantage of AJ’s closeness and kissed him.




Matt smiled when he stepped out of his room and found Nick waiting outside.

“Hey Nickolas.”

Nick turned around and smiled. “Matthew!”

Matt wrapped his arm around Nick and squeezed gently.

Corey smiled when he saw them. Matt let go of Nick as Corey and Nick hugged.

“Hey Core,” Nick said softly while rubbing Corey’s back.

“Hi,” Corey whispered while grabbing a fistful of Nick’s shirt covered back.

They slowly pulled back. Nick’s eyes flew over Corey, cataloguing all the changes he already found in him. The noticeable difference was the beard burn on Corey’s cheeks and the dark love bite on his neck.

Corey blushed when he realized that Nick had noticed the hickey on him and raised his hand to cover it. Nick grabbed his hand and shook his head.

“Don’t.” He smiled and winked. “Looks good.”

Corey smiled shyly and lowered his arm.

Matt slid his arms around Nick and Corey. “Are we eating in my parent’s suite?”

Nick shook his head. “Nope, we’re eating in my room. I figured your parents could use their space to relax too.”

“Thanks Nicky,” Matt said gratefully.

Nick winked at him with a grin. “AJ and Brian are waiting in my room; Josh and Kevin were both on calls when I left so they’re probably there too. Kyle left for the airport this morning. Your parents saw him off.”

“I wish he could’ve stayed back with us today,” Corey said.

“He had to go fly straight to his next contract baby. We’ll meet him for dinner once we’re all back home,” Matt said before pressing a kiss against Corey’s hair.

Nick unlocked the door and pushed it open. Immediately a cheer rose up from their friends who had been patiently waiting for them.

Corey laughed in surprise as AJ, Josh, Brian and Kevin began spraying cans of silly string at them.

“Congratulations!”

Matt laughed and hugged Corey to himself as his husband hid his face in his chest.




An hour later the seven friends were sitting comfortably around Nick’s room enjoying lunch together.

AJ laughed as Nick looked longingly at the dish containing green Thai chicken curry. He patted his arm consolingly and passed him the plate of paprika fries. Nick pouted before smiling at his friend.

Nick was very aware of the smiles and covert looks sent his way by their friends. He was sitting crossed legged on his bed while Kevin sat on the ground at the foot of the bed with his legs stretched out in front of him. He wished someone would realize how close AJ and Brian were sitting and shift their attention to them.

When AJ caught his eye it was like his friend knew what he was thinking and slowly shook his head. Nick bit back a sigh and nodded slightly. He pressed his toe against Kevin’s shoulder and yelped when his boyfriend tugged on his foot.

Corey looked away from his conversation with Josh and laughed when he saw Kevin trying to yank Nick off the bed.

“Get him Kevin!” he cheered.

Nick laughed and called Corey a traitor as he set his plate down and slid off the bed.

“Anyone ever tell you you’re a brat?” Nick asked as Kevin grabbed Nick’s plate and held it out to him.

Kevin pretended to think. “Why yes, you have, several times.”

Nick rolled his eyes and pressed his thigh against Kevin’s. “Brat.”

“Only for you,” Kevin said softly before pressing his lips against Nick’s jaw.

Nick smiled and ducked his head down to finish his meal all the while hoping that his cheeks weren’t as flushed as he thought they might be.




Brian couldn’t stop staring at the man lounging on the couch in his room, laptop balanced on his knees while he worked. The tattoos on his arm just added to his appeal.

Brown eyes looked up and caught blue ones.

AJ grinned, “I can feel you looking at me. Is there something you need?”

Brian almost blushed at being caught. “Now that you mention it, there is something I need.”

AJ raised an eyebrow and waited.

Brian slid off the bed and stood in front of AJ. He gently trailed his finger along AJ’s cheek. “You. I need you.”

“Insatiable aren’t we?” AJ turned his head and nipped Brian’s finger.

Brian smiled and slid his finger into AJ’s mouth, “Are you complaining?”




Corey frowned as he looked at the clothes he’d neatly hung up while wondering what to wear for dinner. He gave up after a few minutes and grabbed his phone.

“Hello Mr. Sigmond.”

Corey grinned and rolled his eyes. “Hi Josh. I dunno what to wear for dinner.”

“If you want to be a little more formal you should wear the lemon linen shirt with the cream linen pants. If you want to be casual then the lemon t-shirt with shorts or with the drawstring pants.”

He frowned and poked at the shirt in front of him. “What are you wearing?”

“Blue linen shorts with a white t-shirt.”

Corey sighed. “Ok, thank you.”

Josh laughed, “Relax baby, this is your party. You can wear whatever you want to. You make anything look good.”

Corey smiled shyly and thanked his friend softly. He tossed his phone down onto the couch just as arms slid around his waist. His breath hitched in surprise before settling when Matt’s familiar scent pressed into him.

“Hi.” Cool lips pressed against his neck.

“Hi,” Corey said softly.

“You were gone when I woke up.”

Corey smiled at the slight pout he could hear in Matt’s voice. “I wanted to get changed. I was going to come wake you once I was ready.”

He resisted the urge to fidget, acutely aware of Matt’s hands on his bare stomach. He raised his arm and slowly slid his hand over Matt’s hair, enjoying the intimate moment with his husband.




“How many cameras do you own?” Brian asked AJ in wonder while watching him pack his digital camera case with two memory cards.

“Four, six if you count the ones on my phones,” AJ shrugged as he replied.

Brian stared incredulously at AJ who laughed when he caught the look.

“Portrait photography isn’t my hobby Brian; it’s my profession at the moment. I need those cameras.” He paused and shrugged as he took a seat on the bed. “I started out with my digital camera, then I bought my first DSLR when Nick forced me into charging our friends for the pictures I took. He and Corey bought me my second DSLR as a birthday present and Kevin got me that one.” He smiled at Brian, “So you see I have only bought two for myself.”

“You’re amazing,” Brian said while staring at AJ in fascination.

AJ laughed and shook his head. Brian continued staring at AJ while the other man stood up to continue packing away his belongings.




“Core the dads are headed downstairs,” Matt called out from the bedroom.

Corey who had been squinting at himself in the mirror nodded before realizing that Matt couldn’t see him. “Ok, I just need a few more minutes to get my contacts in!”

A moment later Matt entered the dressing area and smiled at Corey. “Everything ok? It doesn’t usually take you more than a few seconds to get them in.”

Corey sighed and shook his head. “The humidity and heat and all these plants everywhere have made my eyes feel dry and itchy. My contacts are mean to my itchy eyes.” He turned to Matt and pouted a little.

Matt rubbed Corey’s back. “Aww baby you don’t have to wear them. Just wear your glasses.”

Corey frowned. “I’ll look like a dork. What’ll your parents say?”

“They’ll be happy that their precious son in law isn’t irritating his eyes by wearing his contacts when he clearly shouldn’t be.”

Matt could tell that Corey wanted to give in. Deciding to make the decision for him, he gently took the little bubble of a lens from Corey’s finger and set it into the case before twisting the lid on.

“Do you want to carry your glasses along or just do without?”

Corey shrugged, “I’ll carry em along just in case.”

Matt drew Corey into his arms and licked his lower lip before sucking it into his mouth. Corey instinctively arched into Matt’s body before he remembered that they had to go and pulled back. He moaned as Matt began kissing his jaw.

“We have to go!” he groaned as Matt slid his arms under his shirt.

“We have time,” Matt disagreed.

Corey used his willpower and pulled himself out of Matt’s gentle hold. He poked his chest when he tried to come closer. “You stay right there mister! The dads are already downstairs. We are going to go join them.”

Matt grinned and held up his hands in surrender. “Ok whatever you say baby.”

With a suspicious look aimed in his direction Corey turned and hurried out of the bathroom followed by a smiling Matt.




Robert squeezed Nick’s arm. “Why didn’t you say anything when they went on about Kevin?”

Nick shrugged and wouldn’t meet his father’s eyes. “I didn’t want to embarrass them in front of you.”

Monique had several times made it a point to mention to him that Annaliese was out with Kevin. He wondered now if any of what she’d said had been true or she’d just been making sure the thought of Annaliese and Kevin stayed in his head so that he didn’t encourage Nick to spend time with him.

He sighed and rubbed Nick’s arm. “I’m sorry kid, if I’d have known Kevin’s in a relationship I would have discouraged Annaliese.”

Nick finally met his father’s eyes and smiled. He loved his father’s sense of morals. He had no doubt his dad wouldn’t have discouraged Annaliese if Nick had shown an interest in him too. But the fact that Kevin was in a relationship was reason enough.

“Love you Dad,” Nick said softly and allowed his father to tug him into a hug.

“Love you Nicky,” Robert held the back of Nick’s head and pressed a kiss against his hair.

A few minutes later Robert smiled as AJ joined them. “How are you Alex? I feel like I’ve barely seen you the past few days.”

Nick pressed his lips together to resist a smile and waited to see what AJ would say.

“I’ve been around; you’re the busy one between us Robert.”

Robert narrowed his eyes and surveyed the younger men in front of him. “Hmmm… I’ll be sure to pin you down with a concrete plan once we’re all back in LA.”

AJ nodded quickly, “That sounds good.” He hoped Nick wouldn’t mess things up by laughing. His friend wouldn’t last much longer with that smirk waiting to burst out of him.

“Alex!” Kevin joined them and grabbed AJ’s arm. “They are on their way down.”

“Oh! I’ll see you guys in a bit,” AJ excused himself and rushed off. “Thanks,” he whispered to Kevin as he moved past him.

Brian watched AJ rush out of the restaurant and moved to the side so that he’d be able to watch him work without getting in his way or distracting him.

He tried to figure out exactly what attracted him towards AJ and found it wasn’t just one thing. He was attracted to all of him that he’d discovered so far and wanted to discover a lot more.




Corey smiled as he stood between Richard and Jake as AJ took their picture.

“Doing ok?” Jake asked softly.

Corey looked up, met Jake’s grey eyes with a smile and nodded. “Thank you for this. It’s nice to have a more informal dinner with everyone.”

Jake smiled and nodded in acknowledgement.

Matt snuck a peek and smiled when he saw Richard’s hand over where Jake’s was resting on Corey’s back. “Lovebirds,” he said softly.

Corey looked between them in confusion when Richard and Jake began laughing. He raised his eyebrows at his husband who winked at mouthed ‘later’.




“You alright?” Kevin asked as he handed Nick a beer.

Nick nodded as he tapped his bottle against Kevin’s. “Dad just wanted to clear something up.” He frowned and looked around as he took a sip. “Do you see Monique and Annaliese around?”

Kevin shrugged and took a long sip from his bottle. “They left for LA this morning.”

Nick choked on his drink and coughed. He looked at Kevin through watery eyes. “You serious?”

Kevin frowned, “When have you known me to lie to you?”

Nick grinned and shook his head. “You know that’s not what I meant.”

“I am very serious. I saw them leave when I was in the lobby this morning.”

“Huh, I would’ve expected them to have stayed for tonight’s dinner.”

“Maybe they didn’t know about it,” Kevin suggested innocently.

Nick stared at Kevin and shrugged.

When AJ summoned them over for a picture he went with a light heart knowing that he didn’t have to be on his guard that night.




“Stop stop,” Corey said with a laugh as Jake tried to rearrange all of them for a group picture. He grinned, “We’re standing height wise! You gotta get a shot of this for me!”

Jake laughed and nodded as Kevin leaned forward to check what Corey was talking about.

From right to left they really had ended up in height order, shortest to tallest. Brian, AJ and Corey being similar in height, then Josh followed by Nick, Matt and Kevin who were similar in height.

He got a few shots of them height wise before they rearranged themselves for a few more pictures. Through it all there was much laughter and good natured ribbing between the friends which made Jake enjoy playing photographer.




“Hungry, hungry, hungry,” Nick chanted he slid into a chair next to Corey.

Josh laughed as Nick eyed the food on the plate in front of him. “Eat, eat, eat!”

Nick grabbed a slice of pizza off his plate and took a big bite of it, sighing as he began chewing. “Any plans after dinner?” he asked Josh.

“We could go clubbing or to the hotel bar or we could take a few drinks with us and go hang around the pool. It’s a warm night; it’ll be a nice change.”

“Oh pool totally, I’m in if you guys decide to go to the pool,” Corey said enthusiastically.

Josh and Nick turned and looked at him with raised eyebrows and smirks on their faces.

“What?”

“Oh just, are you sure you want to come be with us rather than be alone with your Matt?” Josh asked mischievously.

Corey pressed his forehead down against the table with a laugh before lifting his head and sticking his tongue out at his friends. “Shut up!”




Matt squeezed Jake as he hugged him. “Thanks for everything Dad. I know I never need to thank you for anything; you do it out of love. But just this once, let me thank you.”

Jake smiled and kissed Matt’s forehead. “Just be happy Matty, that’s all the thanks I ever want.”

Matt smiled and pressed his cheek against his father’s before releasing him and taking a step back. “We’re going to change and head down to the pool for a little while. You and dad should join us if you’re not too tired.”

Jake laughed, “You really want us oldies to party with you guys?”

“Hey! Who’re you calling old baby?” Richard asked while wrapping Matt and Jake in a hug.

Matt laughed and pressed his cheek against Richard’s. “You tell him Dad!”

Richard tightened his arm around Jake. “We’ve only just got our brat married off and you’re already calling me old J?”

Jake rolled his eyes. “Save me from the drama! How about you’re not old, I am?”

Matt shook his head, “No way! One can’t work without the other. Either you’re both old or not.”

Jake couldn’t help but laugh as he took in the sparkle in his son and husband’s eyes. “I give up! We’re not old. You my love are as much of a brat and drama king as you were when we first met.”

Richard winked at his son and smiled proudly at his husband. “Thank you for admitting it.”

“So how about it Dad? Joining us?”

“Oh are you guys coming to the pool?” Corey asked as he joined them.

Matt peered into the bowl in Corey’s hand, “I’m trying to convince them to. What is that?”

Corey raised a spoonful and offered it to Matt. “Mango gelato.”

Jake laughed at the look on his son’s face after he tasted the gelato. “Not your thing sweetheart.”

Corey grinned. “Please come if you’re not tired. Kevin’s got them to serve some of the dessert and drinks and stuff by the pool.”

“I’m convinced,” Robert said while looking at Jake.

Jake sighed and smiled. “We’ll meet you down there. Which pool?”

Corey looked at them in confusion. “Umm… there’s more than one?”

“The one that’s on the other side of the pool bar,” Matt said helpfully.

“Ok we’ll meet you there,” Jake said.

Matt watched his parents move away to wish the rest of their guests goodnight. He turned back to see that Corey had finished off his ice cream and was ready to go.

Corey yawned as he pressed himself into Matt’s side as they walked back to their room. Matt wrapped his arm around Corey and squeezed him gently.

“Tired?”

“A little,” he said softly.

Matt rubbed his hand along Corey’s side. “I’m not surprised. The next few days are going to be pure relaxation; you’ll finally get a break.”

Corey leaned up and kissed Matt’s cheek. “Love you Matt.”

Matt smiled and brushed his lips against Corey’s. “Love you my own.”




An hour later AJ, Nick and Corey stared in surprise as Jake stripped off his t-shirt and dove into the pool. Josh laughed as he looked at them.

“Didn’t realize how fit he is?” Josh asked with a grin.

“Oh wow!” Nick whistled. “I knew he was fit but wow ok, wow!”

“There’s fit and then there’s that!” Corey said wide eyed. “He’s all abs and biceps!” He immediately looked down at his own flat stomach and started poking at it until AJ smacked his hand away.

“What non existent fat are you poking at Sigmond?”

Corey pouted, “I have no abs!” he wailed.

Nick, AJ and Josh groaned simultaneously.

“Here Core,” Nick quickly handed his friend a glass of champagne.

Corey gratefully accepted the glass and sighed. “I think I’m a tiny bit drunk Nicky.”

Nick smothered a grin and wrapped an arm around his friend when Corey rested his head on Nick’s shoulder. “That’s ok Core, as long as you’re having fun it’s all good.”


Richard smiled as Jake swam up to him. “You have an audience.” He grinned at Jake’s raised eyebrow. “I think you gave Corey and his little gang a bit of a shock when you stripped off.”

Jake rolled his eyes, “Yeah right.”

Richard laughed and grabbed Jake’s hand, squeezing it gently. “I’m not messing with you love.”

Jake ran his free hand over his face before slicking his hair back up off his forehead. “That’s embarrassing.”

Richard tugged his husband closer. “Why? You’re a handsome man J and you work hard to stay fit. Nothing wrong with them appreciating that.”

Jake shook his head with a laugh. “You never let my smile leave for long Rich.”

“I love your smile, I like seeing it,” Richard said softly, tracing his thumb over Jake’s lips.

Jake gently kissed his thumb. They turned when they heard a laugh and found Corey laughing as the bubbles in his glass tickled his nose. Nick met Jake’s eyes and winked before turning his attention to his best friend.

A little while later Corey sat at the edge of the pool kicking his legs back and forth in the water. He yawned tiredly and lay back, blinking as the sky came into focus.

He smiled when Richard came into his line of sight. “Hi,” he said sweetly.

“Hey kid,” Richard said. “What’re you doing?”

“Waiting for Matt.”

Richard took a quick look around and found his son a little ways away with Kevin.

“He’s looking for my flip flops. I dunno where I left em.”

As Richard watched Corey struggled to keep his eyes open and seemed to be on the verge of sleep.

“Found them Core!”

Corey and Richard turned their head to see Nick walking towards them with a pair of neon green flip flops in his hand.

Nick set the flip flops down and held his hand out to Corey to help him up. Richard followed his lead and grabbed Corey’s other arm. Corey stood up and leaned sleepily against Richard as Nick quickly ran a towel over his legs and helped him slip his feet into his flip flops.

“Is he ok?” Richard mouthed to Nick.

Nick smiled and nodded. “Very tired,” he mouthed back.

“You want your shirt Core?” Nick asked gently.

“I want my bed Nicky,” Corey said, already half asleep. Richard’s arm around him seemed to be the only thing holding him up.

“Will you go ahead with him?” Nick asked Richard. “I’ll grab the rest of his stuff together.”

“I don’t want you staying down here alone Nick.”

Nick smiled, “Kevin, Brian and AJ are here with me. Go ahead.”

“Alright, thank you,” Richard called out as he began guiding Corey away from the pool.

Nick watched them with a smile on his face before turning away to gather the rest of their things together.

Jake tapped Matt’s shoulder. “He’s wearing flip flops Matty.”

Matt looked up and laughed when he saw Corey with his bright green flip flops on his feet.

“Where’d you find them?” he asked as he stood up from where he’d been kneeling on the ground to look under the loungers.

“Nick found them,” Richard said.

“I knew I should’ve just followed Nick,” Matt said with a laugh.

“Let’s get him up,” Jake said softly when he realized how tired Corey must be to be so at ease with Richard.

Richard took a careful step forward and sighed in relief when Corey moved with him. Corey opened his eyes and reached out to Matt when he saw him. Matt was immediately at his side.

“I’m sorry,” Corey mumbled as he rubbed his aching head.

“Nothing for you to be sorry for kiddo,” Richard said softly.

Between them Richard and Matt easily got Corey up the stairs and into the lobby. Jake moved around them and pressed the elevator button.

“Is your head hurting Corey?” Jake asked softly when he noticed Corey kept pressing his knuckles against his forehead.

Corey nodded slowly. “Eyes and head.”

“He didn’t wear his contacts; it could be because of that. His eyes have felt dry and itchy,” Matt said.

“I’m sure he must have his eye drops with him. Help him use them and get some water into him. He didn’t eat much at dinner,” Jake said with a sigh.

Matt handed his wallet to father who quickly found his room key and got the door open. He held the door open while switching on a few lights.

“Here we are little Prince,” Richard said softly while carefully guiding Corey to the couch.

Corey forced his eyes open and blinked up at his family. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

Matt knelt in front of Corey and cupped his face. “Hey baby you’ve done nothing that requires an apology.”

Jake squeezed Matt’s shoulder. “He’s overtired Matt. Just get him changed and let him sleep. If he’s ok to eat then get a little food into him.”

Corey’s eyes flickered up to meet Jake’s. Jake smiled reassuringly and sat down next to Corey.

“You’re not mad at me?” Corey asked softly.

Jake rubbed Corey’s back, “Not at all Corey.”

“Do you want me to get Nick for you Core?”

It took Corey a minute to process what Matt was asking. He blinked slowly as he looked away from Jake and into Matt’s eyes. He licked his lips and blinked rapidly a few times to wake himself up a little.

“Baby? Do you want Nick here?” Matt asked again.

Corey shook his head before wincing and raising his hand to press against his forehead.

Matt looked a little lost as he met Jake’s eyes.

Jake reached out and squeezed his wrist. “Get Corey into the shower and wash the chlorine off, keep the water warm. Get him in bed, put his eye drops in, make him drink a little water and let him sleep. He’s just overtired Matt. Add to that he hasn’t been eating much, no wonder he’s feeling this way.”

“Call us if you need us,” Richard said handed Matt a glass of water.

“Thanks,” Matt said gratefully.

“Goodnight son,” Jake said softly before hugging Corey gently.

Matt carefully pressed the glass against Corey’s lips and held on as he drank the water.

He stood up and tugged Corey up. A short while later he had managed to get Corey showered and in bed. Corey was watching him from where he was reclined against two pillows.

Corey trailed his fingers up and down Matt’s thigh while Matt went through his medicine kit and pulled out his eye drops. Carefully he got two drops into each eye and stroked Corey’s damp hair back.

“Not mad at me?” Corey asked carefully.

Matt smiled and helped Corey lay back, tugging the sheet up and under his chin. “Mad about you.” He pressed a soft kiss against Corey’s lips. “I love you Corey.”

“Love you Matt mine.




“Core ok?” AJ asked Nick as they walked to their rooms.

“Yup, just really tired, a little tipsy, probably hungry,” Nick replied.

AJ glanced behind them at Kevin and Brian who were out of earshot. “Maybe we shouldn’t have let him drink.”

Nick shook his head. “Matt gave him a drink and he wanted them. He’s fine J, probably just overwhelmed with everything. Jake and Richard seemed totally cool when they left with him. And they are really nice people, totally non-judgemental.”

AJ took Nick’s word for it and nodded his head.

Nick nudged AJ as they got into the elevator. “We’re not leaving without seeing him tomorrow even if that means waking him up.”

AJ nudged Nick back. “Good, I’m glad.”

“Glad about what?” Brian asked as he and Kevin entered the elevator.

“That you guys are so slow, it gave us time to gossip about you,” AJ replied.

Brian laughed and wiggled his eyebrows, “Ohhh!”

The four friends parted at their rooms with calls of ‘goodnight’ ringing the air.

Chapter End Notes:
So this is it, the end of With this ring. I'm sorry for any errors and would appreciate it if you point out any you find to me so that I can correct it. I've read this chapter at least 20 times and can't anymore.

Thank you for the encouragement, best wishes, company and friendship you guys have offered us. For me this was just something to help CJ with since it was a hobby that J was very passionate about. The more I read his notes and understood what he was trying to create I realized that each character in their stories represents someone in their life. A sweet way to express their love toward their friends.

The next chapter in the Ideal Marriage story is supposed to be AJ & Brian's story which spans 12 months immediately after With this ring. It's based mostly on them with appearances by Nick & Kevin. So it's a choice now. This story wasn't even supposed to be written. It's something J started out of boredom in the hospital and managed to finish half with CJ. We've completed it.

Should we be posting An Ideal Marriage? Nick & Kevin's story next or AJ & Brian's? AJ & Brian's story has 4 chapters and is complete. It'll take me 2 months to finish posting it, 2 chapters a month.

Based on your emails/reviews I'll take a call accordingly.



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