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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