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