Hey everyone. Well, I finally did it. I've finally reached twenty chapters of 'Am I...?' I never knew I would have so much support when I first started writing this, but I'm incredibly grateful to all of you that have read up to this point. Writing 'Am I...?' has been amazing and I never would have gotten this far without all of your support. Thank you all.
And I have some good news for everyone. I've decided to continue 'Am I...?' Writing this story has been so much fun that I don't want to stop it yet. But in the continuation, I'm going to create entirely new characters. Not to worry. It'll still be set in the universe where Josh and Leo exist, but they'll be supporting characters instead of main characters.
My new story will be at Stanford University. But the story will be centered on two new main characters that become good friends with Josh and Leo. But things will be a little different this time. I'm thinking of turning my new story into a double perspective, taken from the two new main characters. I really hope you all like the first chapter when I post it.
Twenty chapters gone, and I'm not done yet. Once 'Am I...?' ends, I'll start on my new story. Thank you all again. Here's Chapter 20 of 'Am I...?' (Yes, I know that gay marriage is now legal in California, and I'm very happy for that. But since the date in the story is before Proposition 8 was struck down, I'm setting the story in New York. The dialogue of the officiant is not original. I found it online at angelfire.com. I hope you all enjoy!).
After a long and tiring day at the beach, I practically collapse into bed and pass out. The Monday after, Mark Shawn, and Danny have already scheduled dates with Julie, Selena, and Heather. I'm happy for them, especially since all three of them have never had a girlfriend in the lives.
It's the middle of May and while I should be preparing for AP exams and stuff like that, my family and I are focused on something else at the moment: Ryan and Nate's wedding. Mom and Mrs. Underwood (Nate's mom) have been planning this wedding for months now and the wedding is in less than a week.
Since gay marriage is illegal in California, we're having the wedding in Nate's home state of New York. Nate and his family live in Queens, so we're flying out there to meet Nate and Ryan (who flew out with Nate after we attended their college graduation). Dad and I need tuxes rented, so I'm out picking them up from the tailor.
As I'm waiting for the tuxedos to be given to me, I feel my phone ringing in my pocket. I pull it out and see Ryan's calling. "Hey Ryan," I say.
"Hey little bro. How's everything going out there?"
"We're all a little stressed at the moment. Mom's freaking out, trying to get everything in order for the wedding. I'm getting Dad's and my tuxes picked up right now. How about you?"
"I'm really nervous too. It's the same with Nate and his huge family. I mean we're getting married in six days! It's so unbelievable! I'm both excited and terrified at the same time."
"Don't worry, Ryan. Everything's going to go great. Just try to calm down and..." A sudden ear splitting scream fills my ear, causing me to pull the phone away from me. The screaming stops and I slowly put my ear to receiver again. "What the hell was that?"
"Sorry, that was Nate's mom. Give me a second." I hear Ryan leave the phone for a minute. But when he comes back, I hear a lot of annoyance and desperation in his voice. "Well, we just had a bomb dropped on us."
"One of our groomsmen just pulled out of the wedding. I'm not mad at him. His mother's sick and he needs to go take care of her, but now we have one spot empty at the wedding."
"God Ryan, that sucks. If there was anything I could do to help, I would."
There's nothing but silence on Ryan's end for a few seconds. "Hold on one second," Ryan says. He leaves the phone again and I hear some muffled voices. "Hey Josh, Nate's here with me."
"Hey Josh..." he says with a large amount of exhaustion in his voice.
"Josh," says Ryan. "I know this sounds last minute, but I think I know another guy who could be a groomsman."
"Who?" Nate and I simultaneously ask.
"My Leo?" I ask. "You want him to be a groomsman at your wedding? Haven't you only met him once?"
"In person, yeah. But I've been talking to him since you introduced me and Nate to him back in November. We talk every week."
Leo talks to Ryan? Oh well. No harm done. "Would you guys really be okay with it?" I ask.
"Sure!" says Ryan. "Nate and I love Leo! Do you think you could ask him for us?"
"Nate, are you okay with this?" I ask.
"I'm the one who suggested it," Nate says. "Leo's a great guy. I'd love to have him here. Plus he'd be some eye candy for all the girls that are coming."
I roll my eyes and know Ryan's doing the same. "I'll ask him about it," I say. "I'm not sure what he'll say, but I'll ask. I'll let you know in a little while."
"Thanks little bro," says Ryan.
I hang up my phone and quickly dial Leo's number. "Hey Josh," he says.
"Hey Leo. Listen, are you busy this Tuesday through Sunday?"
"Other than school, not really. I was going to work on my bike a bit. Why? What's up?"
"You remember how Ryan and Nate are going to get married in six days, right?"
"Oh yeah, Ryan mentioned that when we talked yesterday. It'll be really exciting for both him and Nate."
"But they've hit a bit of a snag. One of the groomsmen just pulled out of the wedding and now they're a groomsman short."
"Oh shit. That really sucks. If there was anything I could do to help, I would."
"Actually, there is something you could do to help. Since Ryan and Nate both really like you and you and Ryan have gotten pretty close as friends in the past few months, how'd you like to be a groomsman?"
I hear Leo take in a sharp breath. "A-Are you serious?"
"Yeah. I know it seems kind of last minute, but Ryan and Nate are..."
"I'll do it," he interrupts. "I'd love to be there for Ryan and Nate."
"Really? Great! I'll call Ryan and let him and Nate know you're in. By the way, we leave in two days and you're going to need a tux. I think Ryan will send you a plane ticket."
"Great. You know? This'll be the first trip we've taken together. I hope you and I have fun and I really hope Ryan and Nate's wedding goes off without a hitch."
I smile to myself. "Me too, Leo. Ryan and Nate are perfect for each other. I can see them being together for the rest of their lives."
The rest of their lives...
"Tell Ryan and Nate thanks for giving me the honor of being a groomsman at their wedding," Leo tells me. "I need to go see if my tux still fits. I'll call you a little later for some more information."
"Okay Leo. I love you."
"Love you too, Josh."
I hang up the phone and find that the tailor is standing behind the counter, staring intently at me. "Your boyfriend?" she asks me.
I smile to myself. "The love of my life." She smiles as well and I pay for the tuxedos. I take them out to my car and start to head home. As I drive back to my house, I start to think. Hard. Should I? Am I...? Yes. Yes I am. I'm ready...
At a stop sign, I switch on my turn signal and head to my next destination, ready for whatever comes next.
After Leo checks to see his tux fits (it does) and talks to his parents about being a groomsman, we're all set. Everyone's packed, everything fits, plane tickets are ready, hotel reservations are done, and all the necessary materials are in a safe place.
Tuesday morning and we're up at the ass crack of dawn. Mom, Dad, and I all take quick showers and grab all our things and pack them in the car. We head over to Leo's and find him on his front porch with his bags. I hop out of the car and help him stuff his things into the truck and we're off to the airport.
But going through the airport isn't as smooth as we thought it would be. Dad forgets to take off his belt when he goes through the metal detector and we have to wait fifteen minutes for him to be strip-searched. He's allowed to pass through, but he looks like he saw a ghost when he comes out of the security office.
We wait at the gate for our plane to arrive. "Have you ever been to New York City?" Leo asks me.
"Once, when I was seven or eight years old. I don't remember it too well. So it'll be an experience for me. What about you?"
"Never. I hope I'll never forget what goes on while we're there."
I glance at my backpack and smile to myself. "I don't think you'll forget it at all."
The plane arrives and we all eventually make it into the cabin. Once everything's checked, the plane slowly makes its way to the runway. After a few minutes of slowly creeping, the plane picks up speed and it soon airborne, and we're on our way to New York.
After about six hours, the plane touches down at JFK. We walk out into the airport terminal and see Ryan and Nate. Before any of us can even say hi, they tackle all of us in a crushing hug. After a few seconds of not being able to breathe, they release us and smile brightly. "It's great to see all of you!" says Nate. "Welcome to Queens!"
Wow. When Nate's home, his New York accent really comes out. "Let's get to baggage claim and get your stuff," says Ryan.
We follow them to the baggage claim area and quickly find our bags. Nate leads us outside and hails down a cab for all of us. As we drive through the streets of Queens, Nate points out landmarks of his hometown, all of which my parents, Leo, and myself have never seen.
The cab pulls up to our hotel and Ryan and Nate help us unload our bags. A bellman comes up with a bell cart and stacks our bags on it. We walk into the lobby and Dad quickly checks in. After getting our bags upstairs, putting them in our rooms, and unpacking a little, Nate hails another cab and we're off to his house.
After another drive, the tall skyscrapers and townhouses are replaced by more open area. Nate tells us he lives in Forest Hills, an upper middle class area of Queens, more specifically, Forest Hills Gardens. We wind through the streets and pull up to a gorgeous Tudor style home.
We all climb out of the cab and stare at the beauty of the house. "This house used to belong to my great-grandfather," says Nate. "Since then, it's been passed down to his son, my grandpa, and now my dad owns it. C'mon inside. My parents and siblings have been waiting to meet you."
Nate leads up the walkway and opens the front door. The first thing that hits me is the insane noise level and the craziness that's going on. There must be at least a dozen people running through the main lobby area alone. "We're home!" Nate practically has to scream.
Everyone suddenly stops what they're doing and looks to Nate. "Ryan's family's here!" Nate screams again.
Within a second, we're surrounded by people screaming questions, hugging us, and yelling hellos. Nate manages to settle everyone down. He walks up to a woman with light blonde hair, looks to be in her mid-forties and is about five foot four. "This is my mom," he says. "Mom, this is Mr. Rusden, Mrs. Rusden, Josh, and Josh's boyfriend Leo."
Mrs. Underwood smiles brightly and while we offer hands for handshakes, she gives us all hugs. "It's so great to finally meet you all!" she says. "Nate has told us so much about you!" She looks to me and Leo and smiles brightly. "Ryan and Nate have been talking about you two constantly. It's wonderful to finally meet you both."
"It's nice to finally meet you too Mrs. Underwood," I say.
"Please, call me Shannon," she says. Two small children, one boy and one girl, suddenly appear and wrap themselves around her waist and look up at Leo and me, nervousness in their eyes. "And these two are Nate's youngest siblings, Rider and Riley. They're the twins of the family."
I look down at the twins and they bury their faces in their mother's hips. They're probably around seven years old and are very adorable. Leo suddenly kneels down and the twins look at him. "Hi, I'm Leo," he says.
"Hi..." the twins quietly say.
Leo smiles and pulls out his cell phone. He taps the screen a few times and turns it to the twins. Bright colors illuminate their faces and their eyes fill with wonder. "Here," he says handing them the phone. "You can play with it."
The twins smile and run down the hall together, their faces glued to the phone. "Wow," says Mrs. Underwood. "I've never seen them open so fast to anyone."
"I could tell they were nervous from all the people being in your home," says Leo. "They needed a distraction from all the stress. I figured there would be children here, so I downloaded an app called 'Child Distraction' to my phone before we came here. It can keep a kid occupied for hours."
Mrs. Underwood looks incredibly relieved to know her two smallest children will be busy for a while. "Hey, where's Adam?" says Nate.
Mrs. Underwood sighs to herself. "He's up in his room," she says. "He's been up there all day and we could use all the help we can get."
"Who's Adam?" Leo asks.
"He's my younger brother," says Nate. "He's seventeen and in his...let's say angry, secluded phase. He seems pissed off all the time. It first started when I told my family I was gay and I was getting married. The thing I'm most afraid of is that he doesn't approve of me and Ryan."
The air in the room suddenly feels a lot heavier. "C'mon everyone!" says Mrs. Underwood. "We have a wedding to get ready for! Let's not get so doom and gloom." She looks back to us. "I'll show you around the house."
Mrs. Underwood gives us the grand tour, showing us every inch there is. The dining room, the kitchen, the backyard, the living room, it's all beautiful. As she's leading us back to the main lobby, I feel a sudden urge. "May I ask where the restroom is?" I ask Mrs. Underwood.
"Oh! I'm sorry!" she says with an apologetic face. "It's upstairs, the third door on the left."
I thank her and head upstairs, walking by a few other family members as they walk by me. I make it upstairs and find the bathroom. I'm about to reach for the handle when the door quickly opens and I'm met by a large mass. I look up and see a head of dark blonde hair, green eyes, and a dark scowl. "What?" he says in a deep voice.
"Um...I'm just trying to use the bathroom."
He stares at me for a second before stepping out of the way. He starts to walk down the hall and I can see this guy is gigantic. He's at least six foot three and his body is that of a professional athlete. I begin to walk in the bathroom when he turns around and walks back toward me. "Who're you?" he asks.
I turn and face him. "Name's Josh. I'm Ryan's younger brother."
On his face, it suddenly gets darker and his teeth grind together. "Your fag brother is marrying Nate?"
Anger and fury flash through me and my arm shoots out and grabs this guy by the neck. I push him back and ram him into a wall and grip his neck tighter. "What. The fuck. Did you call. My brother?"
"A...fag..." he chokes out.
I squeeze his neck tighter and see him trying to struggle for air. "Don't you EVER call my brother a fag. If you do, I swear to God I'll kill you..." I let go of his neck and he falls to the floor. "If you're going to call someone a fag, you better call me one before you say it to my brother's face."
As much as I want to punch this guy, something stops me. The dark scowl is gone and it looks to be filled with fear. He looks up at me and I see terror in his eyes. "Adam!" I look to my left and see Nate walking toward us. "What happened?"
"Wait, this is...Adam?" I ask.
Adam jumps up and shoves past both me and Nate and walks down the hall. "Adam!" Nate calls.
Adam walks into a room and slams the door behind him. Nate sighs to himself. "That was your younger brother?" I ask.
"Yeah. He's five years younger than me but looks older than me. He's into bodybuilding and MMA, which is why he's really muscular, plus he's had an insane growth spurt in the last two years. So why was he on the floor and looked terrified?"
My fists clench. "He called Ryan a fag and I grabbed him by the neck and shoved him into a wall. I told him that if he ever called Ryan that again, I'd kill him."
Nate runs a hand over his buzzed hair in frustration. "I understand why you reacted the way you did Josh," he says. "I probably would've done the same had I been here when it happened. I just wish he'd just accept that I'm marrying Ryan."
I can see how upset Nate is by this. His own brother isn't accepting that he's marrying another man. Nate turns and heads back downstairs, a little slump in his shoulders. I quickly use the bathroom and walk back downstairs as well, glancing at Adam's room as I pass it.
Time passes and I eventually meet a lot of Nate's family. His grandparents are very happy to see their grandson getting married. Along with them, his aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and some friends introduce themselves to my parents, Leo, and me. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are arriving tomorrow and Thursday.
Mrs. Underwood decides to order some pizza since it's too crowded to actually cook anything at the moment. Forty minutes later, a deliveryman arrives with about fifteen pizzas and we help get them into the kitchen. "Nate," says Mrs. Underwood. "Would you go upstairs and tell Adam dinner's here?"
Nate walks upstairs and we all grab a few slices of pizza. I've never had New York style pizza before, but it's actually really good. Nate comes down a few minutes later, but with no Adam. "Nate, where's your brother?" asks Mrs. Underwood.
"He told me to go away and when I tried opening the door, it was locked," Nate explains.
Mrs. Underwood puts her hand to her forehead, clearly annoyed. The front door opens and I see a man in a nice suit walk in. He looks to be in his late-forties with greying light brown hair and a six foot one frame. "Hi Ricky," says Mrs. Underwood.
She stands up from her seat and gives the man a hug and kiss. Nate stands up too. "This is my dad," he says. "Dad, this is Ryan's family and Leo Trigon."
Mr. Underwood smiles and gives us all a handshake. "Nice to meet you all," he says.
"Go upstairs and get changed," says Mrs. Underwood. "Pizza is getting cold."
He heads upstairs and comes back down a few minutes later, in a t-shirt and jeans. He grabs a few pieces of pizza and joins in the conversation. But as we're all talking, I can see in the Underwood's faces that they're clearly upset by something, even though they're trying not to show it.
It must be Adam. Everyone is so on board with Nate and Ryan's upcoming marriage, but Adam seems to be refusing to even be apart of it. I know it isn't my business, but I need to find out why he's being so hostile toward his brother...
I set my plate down and stand up from the couch. 'I'll be right back," I say. I walk into the main lobby and head upstairs. I get to the top of the stairs and see Adam's room. Taking a few breaths, I walk up to the door and lightly tap on it. "I said go away!" comes from the other side.
"It's not Nate," I say. "It's Josh."
"What the hell do you want?"
"I want to talk to you. No one sent me up here. I only want to talk to you for a few minutes."
"Well you can fuck off..."
I sigh to myself and stick my hands in my pocket. I feel something in it and pull it out. It's two paperclips. Perfect...
I pull apart the paperclips and kneel down in front of Adam's door and put both paperclips into the lock. After a minute of tinkering, I get the door unlocked and put the paper clips back in my pocket. I stand back up and open the door.
The second I'm in the room, I stop. Everything in here is centered on fitness. A bench press, resistance bands, a stationary bike, an elliptical, medicine balls, exercise balls, free weights, and even an erg. I mean I have some free weights and a bench press in my room to stay fit, but this is insane. And in the middle of the room on a very large bed sits Adam, with a laptop on his lap and ear buds in his ears.
Adam looks up and sees me. His face becomes furious and he sets his laptop down and pulls his ear buds out. "How the hell did you get in here?!" he yells.
"I learned how to pick locks when I was eleven," I say. "Yours was child's play."
I shut the door behind me and look back at Adam. "Get out!" he yells.
"Not until we talk." I walk over to the bed and Adam jumps up. "Sit down."
"No! Now get the hell out of here or I swear to God I'll...!"
I at him with a look that can kill and he immediately shuts up. "Sit. Down," I say to him again, this time through gritted teeth. Adam slowly sits back down on the bed and I sit a little away from him. "You and I aren't leaving this room until we're done talking."
"What could you possibly want to talk about?"
"Oh...I don't know. You calling my brother a fag and treating Nate with complete disrespect? Maybe that's what I want to talk about."
Adam's jaw sets. "Why the hell should I treat him with respect? And your brother is a f..." He stops suddenly, probably remembering the threat I gave him earlier. "Homo..."
That's not much better than calling him a fag...
"What could you possibly have against Ryan?" I ask. "He's probably one of the nicest people you'll ever meet in your life. His future is set. He has a great job offer out in Los Angeles as the new physical therapist for the Dodgers, and he just turned 23! He hasn't even completed his residency yet and the Dodgers GM offered him a job! Do you honestly not like him just because he's gay?"
Adam stands back up and tightens his fists, causing the muscles and veins in his arms to bulge. "Stop..." he quietly says.
I stand up as well. "Do you hate Nate because he's gay too? Do you hate your own older brother because he's about to marry another man? It's scares me to know how anyone could hate their own family."
Adam's teeth grind together and his eyes squeeze shut. "Please stop..."
"Ryan and Nate love each other. And whether you like it or not, they're going to get married this Saturday. Then after their honeymoon, they're going to start their new lives together in Los Angeles. And Nate's going to leave knowing his own younger brother hates him."
Before I realize it, Adam's fist flies at forward and punches right through the dry wall, making me jump. Adam slowly pulls his hand out of the wall and his shoulders suddenly start quivering. "I don't hate him..." he shakily says.
Adam slowly turns back to me and I see tears falling from his eyes. "I could never hate my brother," he says. "Ever since I was born, I've looked up to Nate. He's smart, athletic, nice, the most wonderful brother that I know. I can never hate Nate. I love him more than anything."
"Than why are you acting the way you are?"
Adam clenches his eyes shut one more time and more tears escape the corners of his eyes. "Because he's leaving..." He lets out a few sobs before opening his eyes. "Nate's an amazing brother. He's the one guy I can talk to about anything and know he won't judge me for whatever it may be.
"He's helped me through my problems, gave me help when I needed it, and has always been there for me. But when he told us he was marrying Ryan and moving out to Los Angeles with him, I realized that I'm not going to have my older brother with me anymore."
So Adam doesn't hate Nate. He just loves his older brother so much that it's going to be hard for him to not have him around. "What about Ryan?" I ask.
"Ryan's...phenomenal." Adam takes a second to wipe his eyes, to no avail. "Whenever I see him and Nate together, Nate seems so much happier. I'm happy that Nate's marrying someone so perfect."
"So...you don't hate that they're gay?"
Adam shakes his head. "All I want is for Nate to be happy. But I don't want him to be so far away. I don't want to be apart from him..."
"You honestly feel that way, Adam?"
I look over and see Nate standing in the doorway. "Nate..." Adam says quietly.
Nate walks into the room and stands a few feet away from his younger brother. "Adam, just because I'm going to start living in California doesn't mean I'm going to stop talking to you and will never see you again. I'm going to visit whenever I can. You and I can video chat every night if you want.
"I'm always going to be your big brother, Adam. That won't change even when you and I are almost three thousand miles apart. I'll always be there for you, even when I'm not here. I'm just a phone call away."
Adam pulls Nate into a tight hug and starts sobbing into Nate's shoulder. Nate smiles to himself and hugs Adam back. Despite Adam being about an inch taller than Nate, he's still a kid who needs his brother.
Adam finishes crying after a few minutes and wipes his eyes dry. "I'm sorry Nate," he says. "I know I've acted like a dick since you first told me you were getting married. But I'm really happy for you and Ryan."
"Thanks Adam." Nate looks over at me. "And thank you, Josh. You got my little brother to open up." I feel myself smile and Nate looks back to Adam. "C'mon. There's a pepperoni, sausage, onion, green pepper pizza waiting for you downstairs."
"You like pepperoni, sausage, onion, green pepper pizza too?" I ask.
Adam looks over at me in surprise. "I thought I was the only one!" he says, smiling for the first time.
Once you get past Adam's hard, muscular exterior, he's a really nice guy. When he and Leo start talking about martial arts, they don't stop for another twenty minutes. As after dinner entertainment, Leo and Adam head out back and have a good sparring match. And by sparring match, I mean all out brawl. They both come out of it injury free, but it had some pretty close calls.
Over the next two days, everyone's in prepare-for-wedding-mode. Mom and Mrs. Underwood take control of the situation and assign everyone tasks. I'm handed phone duty and am supposed to call to make sure all the order for the wedding are ready, all of which are. Ryan and Nate are told to do nothing and let everyone else handle the wedding plans, which they seem grateful for.
It's finally Friday and the wedding is tomorrow afternoon. Everything is ready and the ceremony and reception will be set up tomorrow. Mrs. Underwood and Mom managed to reserve the ceremony and reception at The Foundry, one of New York's most well known wedding locations. I've seen a few photos of it and it looks amazing.
But there's one little detail of the wedding process that is up to me and the other groomsmen and groomsmaids: the bachelor party. A normal bachelor party would involve bringing in a stripper or something, but Ryan and Nate are a little different. They don't want it to have a stripper. They just want to spend a nice night out with their friends and siblings. Plus, they decided to spend the bachelor party together, a nice twist on the usual.
At six in the evening, Ryan, Nate, Leo, Adam, and I, head out for the night. The cab we called is already waiting outside and he drives us to Manhattan. We get there about forty minutes later and stop in front of a bar: Noir.
From what Nate has told us, Noir is a very nice bar that's open to people under twenty-one (so long as they're stamped saying they're not old enough to drink). We walk in and find that this place is actually a lot nicer than I thought it would be.
There's black almost everywhere in the bar, from the tables, the bar counter, the stools, the walls, even the floor. Gold and white highlight the black and white light illuminates the bar. The bar looks to be made of glass, custom made probably, and the booth seating is black leather. For entertainment, there are numerous flat screen TV's, pool tables, and dartboards.
I've never been to a bar this beautiful before. Plus the clientele are incredibly diverse. Various ages, races, and body types are scattered throughout the bar, but I notice there are more men than women in here, which is pretty unusual for a bar. "C'mon," says Nate. "The bar's open."
Nate walks us to the bar and we all take a seat. As soon as we sit down, a man, who appears to be in his mid-twenties, walks out from the back of the bar and goes behind the counter. He looks up ad sees Nate and smiles. "Nate! Great to see you!"
He reaches across the bar and gives Nate a quick hug. "Guys, this is Micah," says Nate. "He and I used to date before we decided we were better off as friends."
Micah gives a friendly smile. "Who's your party?" he asks Nate.
"This is Josh, Leo, my younger brother Adam, and this guy" Nate puts an arm around Ryan's shoulders "is Ryan."
Micah smiles even brighter. "So you're Ryan! Nate's told me so much about you! I'm so happy to know that Nate's marrying such a hot piece of ass!"
Ryan turns bright red, but grins. "I'm really happy too," he says.
Ryan gives Nate a light kiss before Micah claps his hands together. "So! What'll it be?"
"Budweiser," Nate and Ryan say simultaneously.
"I'm not old enough to drink," I say.
"Neither am I," says Leo.
"Same here," says Adam.
Micah suddenly looks amazed. "You guys aren't twenty-one?! You all look so mature! And you look even older than Nate!"
He's talking to Adam. "Thanks," Adam says, a bit sheepishly. "I like bodybuilding and I grew fifteen inches over the past two years, so I look like I'm twenty-five. But I'm only seventeen."
Micah shakes his head in disbelief. He bends down and comes back with a stamp in his hand. "Hold out your hands," he says. Leo, Adam, and I hold our hands out and Micah quickly stamps them. On our hands is a crossed out 21. "So what would you like?"
"Coke please," I say.
"Sprite for me," says Leo.
"Root beer," says Adam.
Micah nods once and quickly gets our sodas and Ryan and Nate's beers. As we're sipping our drinks, the front door to the bar opens and in walk six people. Nate and Ryan look at the door and smile. "Guys!" calls Ryan.
The men see Ryan and quickly swarm him and Nate. I recognize all of them as guys who have visited Nate's house over the last few days: Tristan, Amir, Omar, Lizzie, Becky, and Geoff. They're all friends of Ryan and Nate who attended UC Berkeley with them and are the groomsmen and groomsmaids at the wedding. After a quick introduction and drink orders, we make our way to a booth and sit down.
As we're talking, more and more people start to come into the bar, seventy percent of them men. I look over at Leo. "Have you noticed anything weird about this bar?" I ask him.
"Yeah, there are a lot of guys in here and barely any women."
Nate suddenly starts snickering to himself. "You two are gay and you can't even tell when you're in a gay bar?" he says.
A gay bar? That makes a lot more sense than me thinking it was guys night. "Sorry," says Leo. "I've never even seen a gay bar before."
"It's not much different from a regular bar," says Ryan. "There are just a lot more men in here than women. But it's a lot cleaner than a normal bar."
I connect a little more with Ryan and Nate's friends, who are incredibly nice and funny people. Leo and I find we can be completely open about our relationship, so I keep my arm around Leo's waist for a while.
We spend a lot of time playing pool and throwing darts, the latter ending with Geoff getting a stray dart in the hand (he's fine and only a little blood was lost. He was a good sport about it). I learn that along with his huge body, Adam's also a master at games.
No matter what we play, Adam beats all of us without even trying. He acts like a kid every time he wins, which helps to remind me that I'm a year older than him. Nate helps to introduce us to a few other customers he knows, all of which are nice and friendly.
Four glasses of Coke later, I need to head to the bathroom. I walk in, am amazed by how immaculate the bathroom is, and step over to a urinal. As I'm taking care of business, I hear the bathroom door open and heavy footsteps walk in. They walk over to the urinal next to me and I glance over and see a very large, muscular man.
This guy is huge from head to toe. He looks like he could be a model for steroids. As I'm peeing, I notice that this guy keeps glancing at me. I try to ignore him, but I see the faintest of smiles on his face.
I finish peeing and flush the urinal and step over to the sink. Another urinal flushes and muscle man walks over to the sink next to mine. I suddenly smell a heavy smell of alcohol coming off him and notice his cheeks are flushed. He's insanely drunk...
As I'm about to go dry my hands off, two trunk-like arms wrap around my waist and keep me from moving. "You're one fine-looking boy," the muscle man says in my ear.
"Let go of me," I say, squirming to get out of his grip.
I'm suddenly turned around and muscle man presses his lips to mine, forcing his tongue into my mouth. I feel like I'm suffocating and a disgusting taste fills my mouth, making me feel like vomiting. He pulls away and puts a hand to my crotch, squeezing my cock and balls. "You got a nice one here," he slurs.
"Let me go!" I scream.
But my cries fall on deaf ears. Muscle man fumbles with my belt buckle and fear suddenly takes over. Oh God...this guy's going to...
I feel tears filling my eyes as muscle man successfully unbuckles my pants and starts to go for the button. I can't get my arms free from his grasp to try and resist him and the first of the tears escape my eyes. I feel my pants button open and hear my zipper slide down. "HELP ME!!" I scream as loud as I can.
The door to the bathroom bursts open and muscle man stops. "GET OFF HIM!!"
The only thing I see next is a fist crushing muscle man's nose. He lets go of me and goes flying across the bathroom and crashes into the wall and slumps to the floor, out cold. I fall to the tiled floor and slide back until I feel a wall behind me. I bring my knees close to my chest and cry into my knees.
My sobs fill the bathroom as I cry. I feel someone kneel in front of me and something touch my shoulder. "GET AWAY FROM ME!!"
I swat the hand away and cry even harder. "Josh! It's me! It's Leo!" I look up for a second and see Leo, concern and worry in his face and eyes. Before he can say anything, I pull him into a hug and cry into his shoulder. "It's okay, Josh. I'm here for you."
"I-I was so scared, Leo. I've never been that scared in my entire life..."
"It was the same for me, Josh. But you're okay now and that man isn't going to hurt you anymore. I need to go tell Ryan..."
I squeeze Leo tighter and pull him as close as possible. "Please...don't leave me here alone..."
Leo hugs me around the neck and lets me cry. I relent after a minute and Leo calls Ryan on his cell phone. Ryan runs into the bathroom less than ten seconds later. "What happened?" he asks.
I'm still in too much shock to talk, so Leo does it for me. "Josh was...almost raped..."
I look up at Ryan and see complete shock in his face. He kneels down next to me and hugs me tightly. "Oh my Gosh, Josh. Are you okay?"
I shake my head. "H-He didn't get my pants open, but he was close. Can someone please call the police?"
And that's exactly what happens. Leo goes and get's Nate, Adam, and the guys and makes a call to 911. The police and ambulance arrive less than three minutes after. The paramedics get muscle man onto a stretcher. I manage to hear one of the paramedics saying he'd never seen a nose broken that badly before.
Micah says the guy's name is Donny. He's a regular at the bar and often drinks himself silly, and usually the cops are needed when he gets too drunk. The detectives that arrive on scene interview me for a few minutes. They may look all business, but they seem genuinely concerned for me. I'm told that because of the security camera in the bathroom, there's enough evidence to get Donny behind bars, so I'm not needed in court.
Everything calms down after about an hour and we're all outside, a heavy feeling on everyone's mind. "I'm sorry for ruining the night Ryan," I say.
Ryan walks over to me and hugs me. "Don't you dare say you're sorry Josh," he says. "None of this was your fault. You don't need to be sorry for anything. I should be the one saying sorry."
"Because I saw Donny go into the bathroom after you. Micah told us that Donny had tried to feel up a few other people in the past. But I thought you could hold your own against him if he tried anything. When Leo jumped up from the table and quickly walked to the bathroom, I didn't even think once that you were in trouble.
"I wasn't there to protect you, Josh. I'm so sorry..."
I hug Ryan back and look at him. "I think...I'm going to go back to the hotel."
"I'll go with you," he says.
"No, you go out and have fun. Don't let this ruin anything."
"I'll go with him," says Leo.
"Thanks Leo," says Ryan. "Josh, if you need me for anything, just call me and I'll be over there as soon as I can."
Nate whistles and a cab pulls up next to the street. Ryan gives Leo enough money for the cab fare and we tell the cab driver where to go. As we drive through the city back to our hotel, I stare out the window, images of Donny attacking me flashing through my mind. As I stare out the window, I feel something on my arm. Leo is rubbing my forearm. "Josh, if you want to talk..." he starts to say.
"Not right now Leo," I interrupt. "Right now, I just want to think."
Leo lifts his hand off my forearm and goes back to staring at the plastic window separating the cab driver and us. I know Leo's only trying to help, but I'd rather be alone right now. The cab pulls up to the hotel and I hop out before the cab even fully stops. I hear Leo calling after me, but I don't stop.
I rush through the lobby and get to the elevators. The doors open and Leo appears by my side, but he doesn't say anything. We step in and press the button for our floor. The elevators rise and open on our floor. I quickly walk down the hallway and find Leo's and my room. I grab my key card out of my pocket and open the door and Leo and I walk in.
Leo shuts the door and I go straight for the bathroom, locking the door behind me. I walk to the shower and turn the water on hot and quickly pull off my clothes and step into the scalding water, but to me, it feels ice cold. I let the water run over me and stare at my feet, not caring as I start to cry.
I spend almost forty-five minutes just crying in the shower. I step out and look in the mirror and see my skin is dark red from standing in the hot water. I start to dry myself off with a towel and spy a t-shirt, pair of basketball shorts, and fresh underwear next to the sink. Thanks Leo...
Once I'm dressed, I get a good look at myself in the mirror and see my eyes still look scared. I shake out my head and walk to the bathroom door and open it. I don't even take a step before I'm taken by two pairs of arms into a very tight hug. "Sweetie," says Mom. "Are you okay?"
"Leo called us and told us what happened," says Dad. "We got here as fast as we could. Were you hurt at all?"
I can't make any words at the moment, but the shaky hug I give my parents speaks for itself. The pull me closer to them and I cry into Dad's shoulder while Mom rubs my back with her hand. They eventually get me to a bed and sit me down. I see Leo sitting at the desk in a large chair. "Do you want to talk about it sweetie?" Mom asks me.
I sniff my nose and wipe my eyes dry. "I-I've never had something so...terrifying happen to me before," I hoarsely say.
I notice Dad looks at Leo. "I know this seems incredibly inconsiderate..." he starts to say.
"You want me to explain what being sexually assaulted was like for me?" Leo finishes. Dad can only nod. "I felt the exact same way Josh is feeling right now, but he's actually handling it a lot better than I did. It took me a day to actually get myself to talk. Josh managed to talk after only about five minutes."
"B-But it was a lot worse for you," I say. "Donny didn't even get my...pants down..."
"Rape is rape," says Leo. "No matter the level of it, it still hurts horribly. Josh, right now, you need as much love and support from your family as you can. That's a good way to help get past the pain." There's a sudden frantic knock at the door. "I'll get it."
Leo gets up from his chair and walks over to the door. I head the door open and a fast pair of footsteps walks over the carpeted floor. Ryan appears and says nothing as he falls into a hug. "Ryan, I thought I told you to go have fun," I say.
"I couldn't have fun knowing my little brother needed me right now," Ryan explains. "The guys and I decided to end the party early and I came over here as fast as I could." I give Ryan a hug, silently thanking him for putting me before himself. "Listen Josh. Tomorrow, if you don't feel up to being the best man, than I can..."
I pull Ryan away from me and look him right in the eye. "Fat fucking chance," I say, not caring that Mom and Dad are on opposite sides of me. "I've been looking forward to tomorrow for months and I'm not letting some pervert stop me from being your best man."
Ryan smiles and hugs me again. "Thanks little bro. You have no idea how much that means to me." Ryan squeezes me one more time and lets go. "I need to get going. Need a good night's sleep before I get married." He grins to himself. "I can't get over saying that. I'm getting married tomorrow!"
Ryan gives Mom, Dad, Leo, and me one more hug before heading out. I tell Mom and Dad I should be okay with Leo and they give me one more hug before going to their room next door. "Do you want to get some sleep?" asks Leo.
"Yeah, I'm pretty tired."
I crawl into bed and Leo quickly changes into a t-shirt and leaves nothing but his boxer-briefs on. I pull off my basketball shorts and toss them to the floor, leaving me in a t-shirt and my underwear as well. Leo turns off the lights and crawls into bed with me, pulling the covers over both of us and wrapping his arms around me. "Are you okay, Josh?" he asks.
"I don't know..." I quietly say.
"Well, just know that I'm here for you if you need me. If you get scared, just wake me up and I'll hold you until you aren't scared anymore. If you need to talk to me, we can stay up all night if you want. Or you can just hold me and we can fall asleep in each others arms."
I slide a bit further into the bed and pull Leo as close to me as possible, picking the third choice. I instantly feel better. Leo feels...so warm. His heat is filling my chest and pushing all the heaviness from it away. The thoughts of my attack are disappearing from my head. "How did you do that?" I ask.
"I-I'm not scared anymore. I'm not even thinking about what happened tonight. H-How did you do it?"
"I didn't do anything but love you, Josh. I love you so much that I wanted all the hurt you were feeling to just disappear. It looks like it worked."
I grip Leo a little tighter and feel tears falling from my eyes and they spill onto Leo shirt. "Thank you, Leo. I love you too, so fucking much..."
"I love you too, Josh. Let's get some sleep. We have a big day tomorrow."
Leo nuzzles his head into the space between my shoulder and neck. Sleep quickly starts taking over me and as my eyes begin to feel heavy, I manage to have one more thought:
He's the one...
The next morning, I wake up with Leo still in my arms. I feel so much better than I did last night. Leo wakes up with me and gives me a good morning kiss. "How're you feeling?" he asks.
"A lot better, thanks for asking."
"Are you sure? You can talk to me if you want."
"Really Leo, I'm fine. You really helped me last night and now I'm not even thinking about what happened. C'mon. Let's take a shower and meet my parents for breakfast."
Leo and I crawl out of bed and head to the bathroom and have a quick shower together, helping each other to wash up. Once we're dressed and ready, we head downstairs to the hotel's restaurant and find Mom and Dad sitting at a table. "Hey guys," I say.
"Hi sweetie," says Mom. "How're you doing?"
"Good. I think I'm pretty much over what happened last night."
"Really?" asks Dad. "It's pretty unusual for someone to get over something to traumatic so quickly."
"You can thank Leo for that," I say, giving Leo a quick kiss. "He really helped me last night after you two went back to your room. Now, I see the attack as something that just happened."
Mom and Dad smile at me and look to Leo. "Thank you Leo," says Mom. "You've been so wonderful to Josh ever since you two started dating. You've even helped him to get over this."
"You're welcome Mr. and Mrs. Rusden," says Leo. "I only want Josh to be happy. When he's not happy, I'm not happy. Josh is amazing and I love him more than anything."
I give Leo another kiss and see Mom and Dad's faces are beaming. We all enjoy a nice breakfast together and let the time pass. After breakfast, Leo and I head back upstairs and relax a little before getting ready for the ceremony. I give Leo a run through of the best man speech I'm giving at the reception, to which he says is perfect.
At four in the afternoon, Leo and I dress into our tuxedos. It takes us a little while, but we manage to get the bowties tied and are ready for the wedding. "You look fantastic," Leo tells me.
"Not as fantastic as you," I say.
Leo smiles and I give him a kiss. I grab Ryan and Nate's wedding rings and Leo and I meet Mom and Dad outside our room, Dad in a tux and Mom in a beautiful dark blue dress. We head downstairs and get a cab and drive to The Foundry.
We get there about an hour and a half before the ceremony is supposed to start. The Foundry is even more beautiful in person than the images I saw online. The wedding is set to be outside, but we walk inside and quickly make our way to Ryan's private room. We walk in and see Ryan standing in front of a large mirror, putting the finishing touches on his all black tuxedo. "Hey, there you guys are," he says.
We close the door behind us and say a quick hello to Lizzie and Geoff (Ryan's other two groomsman and groomsmaid). "How're you feeling?" asks Dad.
"I'm nervous as all fucking hell," Ryan replies. "I just hope nothing goes wrong."
"Nothing will go wrong," says Mom. "Everything's set. The guests will start arriving soon, the reception is ready, the ushers are waiting, Josh has the rings, and the courtyard looks beautiful, if I do say so myself." Everyone in the room rolls their eyes at the remark. "Are your vows ready?"
Ryan pats his chest. "Got it right in here," he says. "I just hope it's good."
"It doesn't have to be good," says Dad. "It just has to be something you mean and care about."
Ryan laughs a little, but I still see nervousness in his eyes. I walk over to him and wrap my arm around his shoulders. "Ryan, everything's going to go great," I say. "So stop looking like you're going to pass out. You're getting married in about two hours! Lighten up!"
Ryan laughs more genuinely this time and the nervous look I saw a few seconds ago is gone. "Thanks Josh. I feel a lot better now."
I give Ryan a pat on the back and walk back over to Leo's side. Time passes and I can hear the guests starting to show up outside. Finally, it's twenty minutes before the ceremony begins and the guests are starting to take their seats. "Ready?" I ask Ryan.
He takes a deep breath and stands up. "As ready as ever."
Mom and Dad give Ryan a hug, whispering words of encouragement to him, before stepping outside with Lizzie, Geoff, and Leo. "It's time," I say.
Ryan takes a few deep breaths and smiles. He gives me a tight hug before we step to the door. We walk to the entrance to the courtyard and I can see the guests in their seats and the officiant standing at the altar. The piano starts playing and the guests turn around. Leo and Geoff take Mom and Dad by their arms and walk them down the aisle. The door to Nate's room opens and Nate's parents, Adam, Tristan, Amir, Omar, and Becky walk out
Once they're seated, Geoff and Leo walk back up the aisle and Adam takes his mother's arm and walks her down the aisle. They both take their seats in the front row and now it's our turn. Becky and Geoff stand in front of me and Leo while Ryan stands behind us and we start to make out way down the aisle.
As we're walking, I suddenly feel the nervousness Ryan must be feeling. I see Mom and Dad and see the pride in their faces, seeing their eldest son walking down the aisle at his wedding. We make it to the front and line up by height. Lizzie's last, then Geoff, who is only an inch shorter than Leo, then Leo, me, and finally the groom: Ryan, who stands next to the officiant.
The music changes and Nate's groomsmen and groomsmaids start to walk down the aisle, Becky and Amir in the front, Tristan and Omar behind them. They get to the front and I see that Becky is Nate's maid of honor, seeing as the two have been friends since they were fourteen.
Rider and Riley start to walk down the aisle together, Rider being the ring-bearer, Riley the flower girl. Riley tosses flower petals from her basket every few steps and Rider keeps in step with his sister. They get to the front and walk over to Adam and Mrs. Underwood and take a seat with them.
Finally, the last two people are standing at the top of the aisle. Everyone rises out of their seats at the sight of them. Mr. Underwood offers Nate his left arm and they slowly walk down the aisle. Camera flashes go off and smiles are everywhere as Nate is escorted by his dad to the altar.
Ryan is beaming at his husband to be, who's smiling back at Ryan. As opposed to Ryan's all back tuxedo, Nate's wearing a light grey suit, tailored to perfection. They make it down the aisle and Mr. Underwood gives Nate a hug before taking his seat. Nate looks at Ryan and the two smile at each other.
The music ends and everyone takes their seat. We look to the officiant, who opens the book she's holding. "Ryan Rusden and Nate Underwood. Today you are surrounded by your friends and family, all of whom have gathered here to witness your marriage and to share in the joy of this special occasion.
"Today, as you join yourselves in marriage, there is a vast and unknown future stretching out before you. The possibilities and potentials of your married life are great; and now falls upon your shoulders the task of choosing your values and making real your dreams.
"Through your commitment to each other, may you grow and nurture a love that makes both of you better people, a love that continues to give you great joy, and also a passion for living that provides you with energy and patience to face the responsibilities of life.
"Ryan and Nate, remember to treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Take responsibility for making the other feel safe, and give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves.
"When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at some time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not just the part that seems wrong.
"In this way, you can survive the times when clouds drift across the face of the sun in your lives, remembering that, just because you may lose sight of it for a moment, does not mean the sun has gone away. And, if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.
"Ryan and Nate have written their own vows for one another."
Ryan reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a piece of paper. He quickly unfolds it and looks at Nate. "Nate, as long as we both shall live, I promise to nurture and care for you. I promise to create a faithful and happy marriage with you. I promise to treat you with respect, kindness, affection, and trust.
"I promise to let you know when I'm upset and need you. I promise to laugh with you, even when you aren't being funny. I promise to help you whenever you need me. I promise to participate in the family we will have. And I promise to love you with all my heart until the day I die. Thank you for being my husband."
Nate's eyes overflow and tears slide down his cheeks. I glance at Mom and Dad and see that Mom is openly crying tears of joy and Dad is wiping his eyes dry. I even feel my eyes getting a little wet, but I quickly wipe them dry with my thumb.
Nate puts his hand in his jacket pocket and pulls out a folded piece of paper of his own. He looks at Ryan with tears streaming down his face. "Ryan, for the rest of our lives, I promise to honor you with every action that I take. I promise to treat you as if you were the most precious thing in the world, and to me, you are.
"I promise to keep you warm when you get to cold and to block out the sun when you get too warm. Wherever you and I go, I promise to be there with you, holding your hand and whispering in your ear a million 'I love you's.' You're my best friend and the love of my life. Thank you for marrying me."
Ryan begins crying too and I see Mr. and Mrs. Underwood crying as well. Adam is smiling at his brother and his holding Rider and Riley on his legs, who are staring at the altar in wonder.
The officiant looks to me. "May I have the rings please?"
I reach into my pocket and pull out the velvet box I've had in there for the past two and a half hours and hand it to the officiant. She opens the box and hands Ryan a ring. "Please take your partner's hand."
Ryan takes Nate's hand and holds the ring in the other hand. He starts to slip the ring onto Nate's finger. "Nate, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness. As I place it on your finger, I commit my heart and soul to you."
Nate smiles as Ryan finishes putting the ring on his finger. The officiant hands Nate the other ring and Nate takes Ryan's hand. "Ryan, I give you this ring as a visible and constant symbol of my promise to be with you, for as long as I live."
Ryan and Nate hold each other hands, smiling lovingly at each other as tears of joy fall from their eyes. "Ryan Rusden," says the officiant. "Do you take Nate Underwood to be your husband?"
"Nate Underwood, do you take Ryan Rusden to be your husband?"
"And now, by the power vested in me by the state of New York, I hereby pronounce you husband and husband. You may now kiss." Ryan and Nate take each other and press their lips together and hug each other tightly. A large round of applause erupts from the crowd. "Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mr. Rusden-Underwood!"
Ryan and Nate take each other's hand and walk back up the aisle together, officially married.
Once everyone clears the courtyard, we make our way to the opposite end of the courtyard for the reception. Just like the wedding ceremony, Mom and Mrs. Underwood did a fantastic job. Blacks, whites, and greys are the colors of tables and decorations. Candles light the tables and give off a peaceful aura.
Cocktail hour starts and guests begin mingling with one another. I spend most of my time with Leo, talking to and meeting various guests. Finally, after about an hour, the MC that was hired tells everyone to take their seats. He formally introduces Mr. and Mrs. Underwood, than Mom and Dad, then Nate's wedding party, then Ryan's, and finally Becky and I walk into the reception area and sit at the head table
The music that was playing with the cocktail party suddenly stops. "Ladies and gentlemen," says the MC. "Please welcome Mr. and Mr. Rusden-Underwood!"
Ryan and Nate walk into the reception with all of us applauding them. They make their way to the head table and take their seats between me and Becky. I look at the guests and see Mom and Dad sitting with Mr. and Mrs. Underwood, Adam, and Rider and Riley.
Mr. Underwood gives a nice introductory speech, thanking everyone for coming and wishing Ryan and Nate the best. We are given our first course of dinner after Mr. Underwood's speech, but I can't focus on it. I'm too nervous about the speech I'm giving after. I'm hoping the first course takes a while, but no, people have to be hungry...
As waiters take everyone plates away, I'm given a microphone and can already feel myself starting to sweat. I slowly rise out of my seat and feel about 160 eyes on me. "U-Um...hi everyone..." I shakily start.
All of the guests giggle, noticing my nervousness. "I-I'd like to thank everyone here for coming to celebrate Ryan and Nate's wedding. I'd also like to thank Nate's parents, Shannon and Rick, as well as my and Ryan's parents, Jacob and Rachel, for putting together such and amazing wedding and for raising two amazing people.
"Ryan is an amazing brother and has been for his entire life. But when we were younger, he always thought he'd never get to be here. Back when Ryan was still in high school, he came home one day and flat out told me 'I'm never going to find a wife to marry me.' And he hasn't."
Much of the crowd laughs at the joke. This is actually easier than I thought. "As many of you know, Ryan's anal-retentive about every single thing in his life." The crowd groans and nods knowingly. "But thanks to Nate's easy-going attitude, he and Ryan balance each other out perfectly.
"Ryan came out to me back in September of last year and when I found out, I was pretty surprised. But when I saw the love he and Nate had for one another, I knew they would be together for the rest of their lives. And now that they're married, I can still see the love that I first saw has grown to something even more.
"Marriage is not about finding a person you can live with. It's about finding the person you can't live without. And it looks like my brother has found that person." I raise my glass and everyone follows my cue. "Here's to a lifetime of happiness for Ryan and Nate."
Glasses click and a large round of applause breaks out. As I'm sitting back down, Ryan gets out of his seat and gives me a tight hug. "That was wonderful," he says. "Thanks little bro."
I give Ryan a hug back and we both take our seats. The rest of dinner is served and after everyone eats, the MC calls for Ryan and Nate's first dance. Ryan and Nate make their way to the dance floor and dance slowly as soft, slow music plays. As I watch Ryan and Nate dance, I feel a hand take mine and see Leo smiling at me. I smile back at him and we watch Ryan and Nate finish their dance.
For the next hour, many of the guests take to the dance floor and dance. The number one rule of wedding dancing is that you must dance no matter how bad you are. This is the case with Dad and Mr. Underwood, who can make a baby learning his first steps look like a professional dancer.
Ryan and Nate cut their wedding cake and things begin winding down. The cake is delicious and many of the guests talk amongst themselves. Ryan and Nate rise out of their seats with a microphone in both of their hands.
Everyone stops what they're doing and look at the newlyweds. "Thank you all again for coming out to see me and Ryan get married," says Nate. "This entire thing has been fantastic and we couldn't be happier with the end result. Thank you to our families for not killing us when we got too stressed and thank you to our friends who have put up with us when we got too annoying."
The crowd laughs. "I'm so happy right now, I can't put it into words," says Ryan. "It's incredible to know that so many people here love us for who we are and have been there to support us when either one of us was upset. Nate and I thank you all one last time for being here on the happiest day of our lives."
We all applaud Nate and Ryan as they walk through the reception are to their waiting town car, ready to take them to their hotel for the night. The guests start leaving and as I look to find Leo to leave with him, I can't find him. I actually can't find Mom and Dad either.
I walk out of the courtyard, through the main house of The Foundry and walk out front. Out there, I find Leo, Mom and Dad. But when I see them, Mom and Dad are hugging Leo. I'm confused for a second, but walk over to them anyway. "Hey, you all left me behind," I say.
Mom and Dad let go of Leo and look at me. "Oh sorry sweetie," says Mom. "We assumed you'd know where to find us."
"It's fine," I say. "Anyway, why were you hugging Leo?"
Mom and Dad quickly glance to each other. "Um...we were just thanking Leo for being a groomsman tonight," says Dad.
"Oh okay," I say. I wrap my arm around Leo's waist and give him a kiss on the side of his head. "Did one of you call a cab?"
"It's on its way here," says Mom. "It'll be here any minute."
And speak of the devil, the cab rolls up in front of us. We all climb in and head back to the hotel. As we're driving, I hold Leo's hand in mine with his head resting on my shoulder. Tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow...
After a long and eventful day, Leo and I fall into bed together and quickly fall asleep in each other's arms. I wake up the next day to the light that hits my eyes. I sit up in bed and notice that Leo isn't here. My heart suddenly starts racing, remembering the last time this happened.
I look over on the nightstand and see a folded up piece of paper. I quickly unfold it and read it over.
'Good morning, sleeping beauty. I'm in the park across the street getting some coffee. Could you meet me there at around 9:30? I want to spend some alone time with you. -Leo'
I breathe a sigh of relief. I look over at the clock and see that it's a little before nine. I climb out of bed and take a quick shower. Once I'm dressed and ready, I start to walk toward the door when I remember the promise I made to myself last night. I walk back to my bag and pull out what I'm looking for and head out the door.
I walk out of the hotel and quickly cross the street to the park Leo mentioned. After a minute of walking, I see him sitting on a bench in the middle of the park, staring off into the distance. "Morning," I say as I walk up to him.
Leo looks up at me and smiles. "Hey Josh." He scoots over a bit and I take a seat next to him. "I bought you a coffee. Two sugars like you like it."
"Thanks." I take a sip of the hot coffee, instantly feeling more awake. Leo and I sit in silence, looking off into space, watching people pass us by, and seeing the pigeons attack people with food. I look over at Leo and see his beautiful face, his dark blue eyes shining in the morning light. "I love you so much."
Leo looks over at me and grins. "I love you too."
"No, I mean I really love you, Leo." I turn to Leo and move a little closer to him. "Ever since you and I first met, I've been in love with you. Every bit of you I love. Your smile, your personality, your body, your eyes, I love all of it. The love you have given me ever since we first started dating has been magical and I can't see a day where I don't want feel that love."
I feel my eyes start to get wet, but I ignore them. "Leo, you're the most wonderful person in the world to me and I want to be that person for you...forever. Please do me one favor and close your eyes."
Leo smiles brightly. "As long as you do the same."
I'm lost for a second, but I close my eyes along with Leo. "Are they closed?" I ask.
"Yeah, are yours?" he asks me.
I reach into my pocket and pull out the box and flip it open. "Open your eyes on the count of three," says Leo.
"You too," I say.
"One, two, three."
I open my eyes and can't believe what I'm seeing. Leo's holding a black velvet box of his own along with the one I'm holding. Leo looks to be in as much disbelief as me. The tears that have built up on the bases of our eyes finally spill as we both smile to each other. The rings are almost identical, both of them a bright silver. "Leo..."
"Will you marry me?" we say at the same time.
"Absolutely," says Leo. "I can't see myself as anything else besides your husband, Josh."
"I was thinking the exact same thing."
I take the ring out of the box and take Leo's left hand. I slip the ring on his finger and stare at it for a minute, smiling at it the whole time. Leo takes my left hand does the same for me, the feeling of the ring around my finger the greatest feeling I've ever felt. We smile at each other, not saying anything, before I grab the sides of Leo's head and pull him into a hard kiss.
We pull apart and hug each other. "I love you so much Leo," I whisper into his ear.
"And I love you more than anything, Josh. I'm so happy to have you as my fiancé."
I give Leo one more kiss before we fall back into the bench and look back at the park, our hands tightly interlocked, my finger touching the engagement ring of my future husband.