by J. Rocci
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This book is a work of fiction
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Garrison are two of my favorite characters to write: former Marines,
one a cop, the other a lawyer, both reserved
but so obviously in love. Concur is the fourth short story in the
Courting Series, but can be read as a stand-alone story. I
originally wrote this as a short story for Torquere Press' Sips line,
released in June 2010. I hope you enjoy Concur, and check out the
other stories in the Courting Series:
wakes slowly, disoriented from a bad dream in which he was trapped in
thick cobwebs and futilely trying to tear them off his arms and legs.
Dismayed, he gropes at Garrison's side of the bed until he remembers
that he took a dose of NyQuil and a mid-afternoon nap. Garrison was
going shopping for…something.
Josh rubs his face in his pillow and tries to drift off again, but he
can't get comfortable. A summer cold has his sinuses blocked and his
throat sore, and all he really wants is to sleep until it's winter
his response to a little sniffle would be a hard run to clear his
lungs and nose, then some hot tea with lemon. But he's already been
chewed out for trying to jog it off, a sharp reminder from Garrison
that they are neither in the Corps nor in their twenties anymore and
Heaven help Josh if he so much as sets a toe outside until tomorrow.
ominous ripping noise comes from the closet. Much like the cobwebs
had sounded in his dream.
frown turns into a glower and he pushes off the bed with a stuffy
growl. Stalking over to the closet, he yanks the door open and clicks
on the light.
their honey-colored Chihuahua pup, blinks up at Josh innocently. He's
sitting in the black and grey remains of Josh's spare uniform shirt,
drycleaner's wire hangar sticking straight up. An entire sleeve has
closes his eyes and counts to ten, taking deep, steady breaths that
might have worked if he wasn't congested.
He still wants to kill the dog.
he croaks, and it's enough to have the little heathen darting out of
the closet like a shot.
turns on his heel, following that tiny orange behind out of the
master bedroom and down the hallway. Muttlee is sacked out on the
couch, and only raises his huge German Shepherd head far enough to
watch Munchkin bounce off the side of the armchair and into the
kitchen. The tell-tale scrabble of puppy claws is abruptly cut off as
the dog door slams shut.
his face and the short strands of his brown hair, Josh feels dizzy,
achy, and now he has to replace a uniform shirt, which means a trip
into the city, unless Garrison wants to pick one up for him.
Josh plops down on the couch next to Muttlee.
least you stuck to eating furniture and drywall," Josh mutters,
coughing as he rubs between Muttlee's eyebrows, and notices a bit
more white in his fur. "Although I wouldn't put it past you to
have trained the little sucker. You're gonna lose the Destructo Dog
title at this rate."
yipping starts up outside and Muttlee looks to the door expectantly.
Garrison's SUV pulls around the driveway's curve a moment later. Josh
just sits tiredly on the couch and watches through the living room's
bay windows as Garrison unloads shopping bags from the trunk, talking
either on his Bluetooth or to himself. It's an even toss-up on which
he opens the door, though, it's obvious he has someone on the line.
think it's weird at all. If you want to get married on a beach, then
you go and find a beach you like… Mmmhmm… Then don't let her pay
a dime. She can't complain if she isn't paying for it…"
gives Josh a quick grin, then a concerned frown when Josh sneezes,
and takes his bags into the kitchen. Josh manages a tired wave before
Garrison goes, and laughs when Muttlee practically trips over himself
to follow at Garrison's heels. Munchkin trots smugly behind them,
little legs taking five steps to each of Muttlee’s one.
up from the couch with a groan, Josh eventually follows. Garrison is
halfway done unpacking his shopping bags, stacking fresh fruit and
boxes of cold medicine and tissues on the counter as he keeps
talking. Both dogs are sitting on the floor behind him, watching his
I don't think that's unreasonable at all. Rick, you're an artist;
people expect you to be eccentric. I say take advantage of the
stereotype." He's gesturing now with a carton of orange juice,
but Josh just hovers in the kitchen doorway, taking him in and not
even trying to follow the conversation. "No, my mother helped
us. Lord knows we didn't have the time… Mmmhmm. Ms. Anne Marie did
brown skin has a sheen of sweat to it from the summer heat, making
his silk shirt cling to his firm pectoral muscles and his trim waist,
and his expensive slacks are wrinkled at the knees. He's the only
person Josh knows who gets dressed up nice to go grocery shopping.
owns maybe two pairs of slacks besides his police uniform, and
Garrison has threatened more than once to torch his collection of
jeans and t-shirts. Josh calls them well-worn and comfortable;
Garrison disagrees. New jeans magically supplant his old ones every
at his legs through his sweats, Josh fails to stifle a cough and gets
a sharp glance. Garrison opens a box of tissues and hands it to Josh
before starting to peel an orange, all the while making noises of
assent into the phone. If he's talking with Rick, his best friend,
Garrison won't be off for a while.
Garrison finishes with the orange, he hands the peeled slices off to
Josh and shoos him into the living room.
Josh returns to sprawl on the couch and turns the TV on low, randomly
flipping channels. His own cell phone is charging on the coffee
table, and he checks for new messages. There's a text from Roby, his
partner on the force.
and E getting married. E freaking. SOS.
congestedly, Josh looks at the time stamp. An hour ago. That explains
the weird conversation going on in the kitchen.
is the one who introduced Josh and Garrison to Emmanuel Reyes back
when they first moved to Vermont. Emmanuel, or "E" to his
friends, is a divorce attorney the next county over. He's also a
bad-ass mofo and a former Marine who spars with Josh, Garrison, and
Roby at the gym some weekends.
E started dating Rick -- and Josh has to think for a moment on how
long it's been; Josh and Garrison have been together for nine years,
so that would make it four for them -- no one expected Rick and
Garrison to hit it off so well and become best buds.
is, well, anal-retentive, and Josh thinks that with love because he
himself is a neat-freak, while Rick is… Rick. Put the two next to
each other and people see an affluent black man from Boston best
friends with a hippy white boy from podunk Vermont. Messy to a fault,
Rick's a little campier than any of their other friends and fancies
himself an artist, owning the only tattoo parlor in a forty mile
radius. He's colorful. Dramatic. The antithesis of Garrison's steady
has a foreboding thought of wedding-type things he hasn't had to deal
with in six years. No way will Rick quietly leave his bachelorhood
E should be freaking out, all right.
than call Roby, Josh texts, u
talk E in off ledge yet?
a few minutes of channel-flipping before his phone buzzes again.
Garrison is still talking in the kitchen, but there are food smells
now and Josh is hungry.
help from u
rolls his eyes. im
from the man who routinely calls out "sick" during
has to laugh at that one. Roby is a pain in Josh's ass sometimes, but
he's a good guy.
see you've risen from the dead," Garrison says with a grin in
cranes his neck to look up over the arm of the couch as Garrison
comes around to set a bowl of soup on the coffee table.
not actually dying," Josh points out, and spoils it with a
course you aren't, dear." Garrison clearly doesn't believe him.
Perching on the edge of the couch, he brandishes an ear thermometer.
He doesn't give Josh a chance to protest before he jams it in an ear
and clicks the button.
submits to it with all the grace of a wet cat. He glowers and rubs at
his head when Garrison's done.
it looks like your fever's gone down," Garrison says with a
worried frown. He pops two DayQuil out of the bubble pack that
appears from his back pocket. "Here, take these. I'll get you a
glass of water."
off again before the dogs even settle on the carpet. Muttlee looks
like he wants to follow, but Garrison reappears quickly enough.
you're not feeling better by tomorrow, maybe I should make you a
doctor's appointment." Garrison frets as Josh dutifully takes
fine," Josh grumbles. To distract his husband, Josh grabs the
soup bowl to hold it up like a shield and asks, "So Rick and E
are getting hitched, huh?"
look Garrison gives him lets him know he's not off the hook for some
tender loving care, whether he wants it or not. Josh has a tendency
to lick his wounds in private and gets grumpy when he's ill;
Garrison's known that for years.
proposed this morning over breakfast in bed. There were rose petals
and a latte with foam art involved. Apparently it was all very
romantic." The fond glance Garrison gives him means Josh isn't
the only one remembering the burnt dinner, dog-munched roses, and
missed reservations of Josh's proposal. "Rick now has free reign
to plan the wedding as he wishes, so of course he called me in."
almost spills his soup on Garrison's expensive Italian loafers when
he starts laughing so hard.
man. Oh, shit," he says as he alternates between coughs and
chuckles. "What the hell is E thinking?"
he wants Rick to be happy?" Garrison suggests with a raised
eyebrow. Josh takes that as the warning it is. Sometimes he forgets
that Rick isn't as used to the shit-talking that he gets up to with E
and Roby, and crosses lines without realizing it. Garrison tries to
gently nudge him back if he does.
promised to help with coordination once they decide what they want,"
Garrison continues and Josh drops his head back on the arm of the
couch with a groan, damn the consequences. "We're going out to
lunch this weekend to get started."
Garrison in wedding mode. There are color-coded charts and
threatening phone calls and at least fifteen alternatives previewed
before deciding on the first of whatever they were looking at. He's
not going to see his own husband for weeks.
decide on a date yet?" he asks dully.
Rick can't leave the tattoo shop closed for too long, so they're
going to use their Caribbean trip in August as a honeymoon. If they
have the wedding the weekend before they leave, that gives us seven
eyebrows climb high. "You
are going to plan a wedding in seven weeks?"
eyebrows descend. "Yes. We are."
Josh slurps some of his soup. "Awesome. Looking forward to it."
Garrison stands up, gathering the thermometer. "Now, which one
of your dogs got in the closet?"
they're only Josh's dogs when they've destroyed something. He can't
weeks go by and all seems quiet on the wedding front, if Josh doesn't
count Garrison holing up in his home office every night with gay
wedding magazines -- who knew they had those now? -- and his
Bluetooth surgically attached. There's frequent yelling when Rick
can't make up his mind, including up to how big or small an event
they want it to be.
least Josh is over his summer cold, even though Roby's still
henpecking him about it at every opportunity, and the citizens of
their fair Vermont town are displaying their amazing common sense in
the hellacious heat wave weather.
Diary," Roby says out loud in his heavy Boston accent as he
hunts and pecks at his keyboard from the other side of their double
desk. "Today I learned that building an igloo out of dry ice in
my basement is expensive and will land my stupid ass in the emergency
room. P.S., the police get cranky when my paranoid neighbors call it
in as suspicious behavior and then they have to save my frostbitten
ass from suffocating."
just keeps filling out his own reports on the pickup truck they'd
pulled over for towing a monster truck tire full of teenagers down
the freeway, and then the child protective services report for a
mother who left her three-year-old locked in the car while she went
clothes shopping. Luckily no one was hurt in either case.
when Josh thinks he hates his job, he doesn't really. He just wishes
people thought more about their actions. Who says police officers
lose their faith in humanity?
know what we need?" Roby says suddenly. "We need some time
in the ring with our doomed compatriot and an ice-cold beer after.
Assuming you're up to it, of course, princess…"
the usual taunt, Josh glances at the clock. Garrison took half a day
off to help Rick "choose a venue," so someone will be home
to let the mutts out.
ahead and call the missus." Roby sighs in resignation, propping
his elbow on his desk and his chin on his fist with a hangdog
expression that makes his mustache look funnier than normal.
telling." Josh points at him and picks up the phone.
rolls his eyes. "’Cause I haven't heard that one before…"
picks up on the first ring. "Hey, babe."
Josh replies with a smile. "So Roby called you my little--"
a man with nearly fifteen years on Josh and the start of a beer
belly, Roby can sure move fast when his life is on the line. He
manages to wrestle the receiver out of Josh's hand while Josh shoves
at his face.
Garrison... Why, no, I did not. Would I ever impugn your masculinity
or imply anything about Joshua's private life which I in no way ever
wish to picture?" Roby swats at Josh's grabbing hand. "There's
no need for violence, my friend. We Bostonites must stick together...
Why, Garrison, I'm shocked. Hurt and shocked that you think I would--
Oh, all right, here he is."
laughing, deep and rich, when Josh finally gets the phone back.
again," Josh says with a smile. "We're gonna hit the mats
after our shift, maybe see if E wants to come out."
Garrison chuckles again. "Take Roby out and beat him."
today go?" He misses their quiet evening routine of dinner and
TV before bed, but at least there's only five weeks left. Not that
he's counting down or anything.
decided to go with the vineyard, with the ceremony on their arbor
dais and then the reception on the outdoor patio. Emmanuel requested
a smaller gathering, while Rick wanted to invite everyone who's ever
friended him on Facebook, so I think this is a viable compromise."
makes an encouraging noise and saves his latest report in the system.
mother wanted a more formal set-up, but we thought that with
Emmanuel's family not attending, having informal attire with a short
ceremony outdoors would draw less attention to their absence. The
canapés they serve here are some of the best I've tried--"
a sec," Josh interrupts after a stunned moment. "E's
parents aren't coming? I thought they said they were cool with
looks up in surprise at that, too.
exhales through his nose, a sure sign that he's put out. "Let's
just say his mother was being overly hopeful when she spoke to him on
the phone previously."
round or two at the gym might be the best thing for him today."
There's the rustle of papers on the other end. "I'll see you
when you get home, babe. I'm going to get some work done for
right. Love you."
already has his personal cell phone in hand and is tapping out a text
when Josh hangs up.
Roby says glumly, standing up. "He's gonna meet us there."
is a hole in the wall gym the next town over, set up in what used to
be a thrift store. The lighting is crap and the floor is cracked
linoleum, but most of the guys who go there are off-duty cops or
wanna-be mixed martial arts fighters.
already has his wrists taped when Josh pulls up in his truck. Roby
parks his bike noisily in the next spot over. Josh changed at the
station, so he goes over to E as Roby heads off to the locker room.
greet each other by slapping hands and then it's just the quiet sound
of guys working over the punching bags in the corner and lifting
weights. Josh quickly wraps his own wrists and starts to stretch out
working from home tonight," he offers when E hasn't said
anything for a while. The two of them are quiet guys, but this
silence is different than usual.
nods and does a few quad stretches. He's shorter than Josh by a few
inches, but he's compact and scary when he's determined. The intense
expression on his face now does not bode well for Josh and Roby.
said they booked some vineyard," E finally says. "Place
comes set up with everything we need. We just have to get married
under a bunch of grapes or something."
least you'll be outdoors." Josh goes down into a hip flexor
stretch. "Less claustrophobic. People can move around easier.
Less noise. Ours wasn't so bad, with the country club."
grunts. Roby comes back out and sits on the bench to fiddle with his
headgear. They usually take turns in the ring.
which one of you pansies wants to take me on first? I'll go easy on
you until you warm up, yeah?" Roby asks with overblown bravado
when he's ready.
smirks and exchanges a glance with E, who looks a little less
you," Josh concedes with a nod of his head.
satisfying minutes later, they're at the bar, nursing beers.
Everyone's sore, Josh's elbow is bleeding sluggishly, and Roby's
shoulder may never be the same. A typical day at the gym, then.
Marines with your Semper fucking Fu," Roby grumbles into his
pint, wincing when he has to raise his arm higher than his gut. Josh
and E laugh.
all driving themselves home, so they're limited to a beer a piece.
Josh is going to make his last. He takes a moment to really study E,
and notices the weary look around the other man's eyes.
he says. "How're you holding up?"
at him and Roby, E shrugs and taps his fingers absently on the table.
"Not so bad. I must've been outta my mind to agree to an August
wedding, though. We got less than five weeks left."
snorts. "Yer outta your mind to get hitched, you ask me."
how is Carly?" Josh asks him drily. "Or is it Jessica this
I look like a man about to get tied down?"
like a man afraid of commitment," Josh mutters into his pint.
Whatever, kid." Roby gives E an assessing look. "We gotta
rent tuxes for this shindig? Cause I still haven't recovered from the
monkey suit this one here made me wear." He nods at Josh.
wanted a formal wedding and I didn't care," Josh says for the
thousandth time. "You survived."
snorts with a grin. "Can you see Rick putting up with a suit?
I'll be happy if he doesn't show up barefoot in paint-splattered
hippy," Roby says fondly.
mom is trying to micromanage everything," E says suddenly, smile
slipping. "And I feel bad, because I really don't have the time
right now to help him out -- my caseload is crazy -- so he's bearing
the brunt of it. At least Garrison is there. He made me write up a
list of what I could live with."
can't help the expression on his face at the mention of his husband,
and Roby just gives him a look. "You're doing that dopey thing
ignores him with long practice and says to E, "He's happy when
he gets to plan stuff. I think he liked organizing our wedding more
than he was looking forward to the day itself. I'm sure I'll get home
and he'll have a whole set of battle plans drawn up for you."
laughs like Josh wanted him to, and shrugs. "We're supposed to
have a barbeque-slash-planning session at your place."
steak, and weddings. Sweet." Josh salutes E with his pint.
attention has obviously wandered to a table on the other side of the
bar. Josh follows his gaze and sees a blonde woman who's vaguely
that's…?" E prompts.
Roby says with a leer. "If you gentlemen will excuse me…"
finishes off his beer and rests his elbows on their small table,
frowning when it pulls at his scab. E looks to be lost in thought,
staring at the TV above the bar.
where Josh and Rick are content to just stand back and let life
happen most of the time, Garrison and E are the organizers, the
worriers and the planners. That's why Rick enlisted Garrison from the
you cool, bro?" Josh asks.
of answering right away, E gazes downward into his beer.
didn't talk to your family for a couple years, right?"
blinks. "Almost fifteen, yeah."
pop ever come back around?"
Josh answers. "Not really. My mom thinks maybe he did, toward
the end when he changed his will."
mom thinks mine won't." E says it simply, but Josh knows how
much that hurts. E's parents are strict Catholics and he hadn't come
out to them until he started dating Rick, but it's been four years of
ups and downs. "I think she agrees with him, but doesn't want to
completely shut me out, y'know?"
silent again. Josh thinks of how lucky he is to have Garrison and his
accepting parents who insisted Josh call them mom and dad before he
even married into the family; to have Ms. Anne Marie, who has known
Garrison since he was knee-high and helps Josh spoil him rotten. His
own mother calls him weekly from Ohio now, in the two years since his
dad passed away. He talks to his sister on e-mail, and gets the
occasional note from his brother. Yeah, he's lucky.
man," E says with a frown and gives himself a shake. "C'mon.
I'm getting married. I should be excited, right? It'll be awesome. No
more of this moping bullshit."
my friend, is why we get along," Josh says and punches him on
the shoulder supportively, right where he landed a good shot in the
that's a bruise!"
joke around about lighter things for a while before they split, Roby
long gone with his blonde friend.
Josh is a bit more physical with Garrison when he gets home, if he
revels in each touch and presses himself into Garrison's warmth to
savor that this is his -- his husband, his dogs, his house, his life
-- Garrison just grins against his lips and goes with it.
Saturday planning session turns out to be Garrison, E, and Rick
flipping through catering catalogues on the back deck while Josh
watches an old hockey game on the TV inside. The smell of grilling
steaks wafts in through the open back door every so often, with a
cool breeze now that the heat wave's finally broken.
isn't surprised when E wanders into the living room with a six-pack
of Bud. Rick and Garrison prefer to drink some local micro-brew. E
tosses a can to Josh and settles into the couch.
men with taste," Josh toasts him.
snickers and knocks his back. "All the menus out there were
killing me. I'm starving."
nods and they watch the game in silence. A real-estate commercial
guys still thinking about finding a bigger place?" Josh asks
lazily. At the moment, they're living in the apartment above Rick's
shop, but it's a buyer's market for houses and the two can afford it.
was leaning toward those new townhomes coming up in that subdivision.
Rick wants something with a backyard and at least three bedrooms."
thinks on that. "You could have a home office, he could have a
studio. Rent out the apartment and you'll have some extra income."
E says hesitantly. "I, uh, don't think it's a studio he wants."
gives him a questioning look.
been looking at adoption sites, and we've been kind of talking about
it more seriously…"
Josh gives him a supportive grin. "I can see you guys with
doesn't relax. "The goldfish died, man. You know how hard it is
to kill one of those things? We both kept forgetting to feed it and
change its water."
snorts and opens another can of beer. "I hear kids are a little
more demanding than goldfish. Kinda hard to forget to feed them."
just--" E says, falling silent until the next commercial. "I
waits him out.
not like we're going to do it right away, anyway," E finally
says. "I know Rick will make a good dad, and he really wants
kids, but I-- I'm not-- I don't want to mess some kid up for life."
E's worried expression, Josh thinks carefully about his answer. When
he'd been freaking out before his own wedding, he'd only had Roby for
blinks. "That's it, bro? Get a dog? Help a man out here."
should I say?" Josh gripes half-heartedly. "You already
know you guys will be awesome parents. You know how much of a
responsibility it is and between the two of you, the kid will come
out disgustingly normal. If you're that freaked out about it, get a
dog. It's like training wheels for parenthood." He sips his beer
and continues when E still looks unconvinced. "You gotta stick
to a daily schedule whether you want to or not, you feed 'em, clean
up after them, and have to stay frigging patient the entire time.
You're that worried, hit the local shelter first. Plenty of dogs
there that would appreciate a good home."
chews on his lower lip thoughtfully for a moment. "Is that what
you and Garrison are doing?"
Josh's turn to blink. "Have you seen our schedules? He's a
workaholic and my job is high risk. We barely manage with the dogs.
Besides, we're not that interested in kids, but the dog shelters can
sense a sucker a mile away."
heavy breeze wafts more steak smells in and Josh's stomach growls. He
levers himself off the couch and snags the remains of the six-pack,
motioning for E to follow.
let's go sneak a steak."
just hate this game because your team got beat down."
shrugs and doesn't deny it.
is sprawled across the back deck, just out of danger of being stepped
on. His head picks up eagerly whenever Garrison punctuates a sentence
with his tongs. Munchkin, on the other hand, is darting back and
forth between Garrison and Rick's feet, letting out warning yips if
anyone steps too close.
smells delicious," E announces as they step outside.
darts for them and Josh scoops him up mid-leap. Rick pulls E in to be
disgustingly cute and Josh averts his eyes to meet Garrison's amused
gaze. Josh rolls his eyes and Garrison laughs at the irony -- yeah,
Josh knows he gets sappy, too -- before reaching for the beer.
in time," Garrison murmurs and gives Josh a quick peck on the
lips. "Grab the napkins from inside, please."
they're all seated at the deck table, Garrison drags a now-familiar
notebook between his plate and Rick's.
we have a location, justice of the peace, catering, open bar, and
music decided, and invitations sent out. What am I forgetting?"
tilts his head, ash blond dreadlocks falling to the side as he
thinks. "I suppose we need to find something to wear? If we
really have to."
laughs. "We're not going naked, sweetheart."
perks up. "There's an idea! We could show off matching tattoos!"
Garrison and Josh both say it at the same time.
about we compromise?" E suggests. "Dress shoes and slacks,
but nice button down shirts?"
suppose that would work…" Rick doesn't look entirely convinced
there won't be ties and vests and suit jackets involved.
looks a little disappointed, but considering he'd insisted on a small
fortune in top hats and gloves for their wedding, Josh thinks E and
Rick have the right idea.
can wear whatever you want for the reception," E adds to sweeten
the deal and Rick claps his hands together in glee.
catches a sideways glance from Garrison and goes for a pre-emptive,
"I'm not wearing a suit in August. Forget it."
don't have to wear the waistcoat."
keeps looking at him and then it's a game of wills. Josh stares back
just as stubbornly because this is one thing he's not negotiating on.
can tell Roby that a tux is required," E offers, breaking their
grins, his smoky-colored eyes lighting up with delight. "Please
let me tell him. I want to see his face."
right," Josh says. "Lawyers are
gets kicked lightly in the shin for that one, but Garrison is in a
far better mood after E gives him permission to inflict sartorial
pain on someone else.
E and Rick are ready to leave, it's already getting dark out and Josh
stays out back to clean up while Garrison sees them off. He's just
finished slipping leftover steak to the dogs when Garrison comes back
saw that," Garrison says with a smile.
I can't buy their affection? You know they love you more."
don't love me more. They just know that you're a sucker when it comes
rolls his eyes, but catches Garrison as he's walking past and reels
there," he murmurs and steals a kiss.
lips are soft and full, and he cups Josh's head with both hands,
licking his way into Josh's mouth. They make out on the back deck for
a few minutes, just enjoying each other's touch. The sun's going down
and they're losing light, but it's nice. Intimate.
decides there's been enough fooling around and noses between them,
looking for leftovers or attention. Josh laughs and breaks away.
know what's funny," he says as he follows Garrison into the
kitchen with the dirty plates. "E asked if we were using the
furry children as a run up to the human kind."
grins and opens the dishwasher. "And how did you react to that,
told him we weren't really kid people. Too busy."
hands him another dish and studies his profile. That was Garrison's
"I'm thinking and I'm not sure I agree" noise.
you thought about it?" He asks, because they haven't really had
this conversation before. He never thought they needed to, but maybe
he's been wrong.
shrugs. "Sometimes I wonder. Who doesn't? Just because I like
kids doesn't mean I should have one, though."
has thought about it before, usually with quick dismissal. About
making room for a little boy or girl in their orderly life. A little
one to chase the dogs around, to want cuddles and attention and
possibly more than either of them can give.
look Garrison gives him this time is sly. "You're wondering,
shrugs. "Part of me thinks it might be cool, that we could step
up to the challenge. Another part of me wonders if I'm just being
selfish, wanting to nurture a copy of myself to send out into the
the dishwasher door gently, Garrison turns to lean against the
counter. "Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. There are a lot of kids
out there who need good homes, and you know that once we commit to
something, we're in for the long haul."
no guarantee that we would qualify for adoption," Josh points
out, but his heartbeat is starting to pick up a little. This is more
than them just laughing it off and moving on. This is them feeling an
idea out, seeing where each other's boundaries and expectations are.
think we qualify better than some," Garrison returns mildly. "We
have the income, the job security, and the stability. I'm fairly
certain we can find the character references needed…"
down at Child Services might be able to give them some pointers, if
they're serious about this. She's always had a soft spot for Josh
since he took a punch over a little girl once.
no decisions need to be made tonight," Garrison says, tone still
casual. "We can think on it some more."
is starting to think they're already making one. "Yeah."
Garrison whispers, drawing Josh in close. "Time for bed."
follows him willingly.
day of the wedding dawns muggy and humid, already in the high sixties
by daybreak and only promising to climb higher. Josh stretches out in
bed and listens to Garrison sing in the shower. This morning's
selection is Edith Piaf.
cold puppy nose bumps into his ankle where the blanket has been
kicked back and Josh sighs. He has time to take Muttlee for a run
before he needs to get ready.
into action, he throws on his jogging shorts and a tank top,
sunglasses and running shoes in place. Muttlee's barking will let
Garrison know where they're headed, so he doesn't bother sticking his
head in the bathroom. He lets Munchkin out into the backyard to run
in circles while they’re gone.
do a short circuit so no one gripes about the time, just down to the
end of their street and back. Given that they're on a fairly remote
road, that's about twenty minutes roundtrip for Josh. Muttlee is
panting hard enough to make him feel guilty by the time they get
back. Thick German Shepherd coats aren't meant for this kind of heat.
is thinking humans aren't either.
is savoring his first cup of coffee when Josh comes into the kitchen.
He's already dressed in his slacks and button-down. Josh snickers.
leans in for a kiss, careful not to get his sweaty hands anywhere.
"Just thinking it's funny that Rick's wedding clothes are what
you wear to go grocery shopping."
his eyes, Garrison takes a half-hearted swipe at Josh's ass. "Go
get ready. We're going to be late as it is."
hauls ass, and the day just speeds up from there. In a way, he
remembers their wedding being much the same -- all the anticipation
and the bustling around to make sure the reception hall was ready.
Only this time it's Rick's momma running around instead of
pull up to the vineyard with plenty of time to spare and Garrison
throws himself whole-heartedly into the role of wedding planner. Josh
follows in his wake, keeping an eye out for their friends. It's not
like anyone's going to be hung over, well, maybe Rick since his
tattoo buddies took him out to some raver place as an impromptu
vineyard is picturesque, with wide manicured lawns and neat rows of
grapevines. The cellar and shop is made out of broad stones like a
medieval castle, an array of trellises in dark brown wood spreading
out from its main door to wrap around the building. Behind is where
all the action is, as the caterers and DJ set up.
gathered out under the arbor. E, Rick, and Roby are already there,
with Rick's little sister. Josh gets introduced to the justice of the
peace, Rick's mom with her bright make-up and brighter dress, and
someone who probably works for the vineyard.
he's told to go direct guests to the arbor and he skedaddles before
Garrison can think of something more boring for him to do.
this is mostly Rick's show, the ceremony starts when the thirty
guests are milling around at the bottom of the dais. A couple brave
souls even brought their kids with them. Garrison tugs Josh over and
holds his hand the entire time, a warm and reassuring weight in his
vows are short and to the point, with E and Rick exchanging rings
under a roof of intertwined grapevines. Josh realizes that E's more
understated tastes have basically won out over Rick's propensity for
glam, and wonders how E managed to work that out.
owe me a dance," Garrison murmurs in his ear as they walk with
the group to the vineyard patio.
do?" Josh arches an eyebrow. "I don't recall owing you a
recall a certain wedding reception about, oh, say, six years ago.
There was the promise of one last dance before the end of the night."
Garrison's eyes are smoldering.
yeah," Josh agrees, voice low as a blush creeps over his neck.
"I was all ready to make good on it, too, but someone pulled me
into the ready room and we missed the last call."
were wearing a waistcoat, babe," Garrison says, as though that
for us everyone was already drunk at that point."
sun is starting to set when the DJ starts up the music, after Roby
makes a nervous toast, tugging at the collar of his tuxedo every five
seconds. It's all standard fare, but Rick's mom is sniffling into a
handkerchief the entire time, and Josh doesn't really see how this is
so different from Rick and E moving in together and declaring their
makes a difference," Garrison says, drawing him out onto the
small dance area, twinkle lights in the trellis above their head. A
jazzy tune is playing.
it official," Garrison goes on as he tugs at Josh's hand,
leading them in a slow dance. "I can see that look on your
don't have 'a look,'" Josh protests. Roby dances by with a
brunette Josh doesn't recognize. "I just don't think weddings
are something to get worked up about."
is quiet for a moment as they move across the floor. Rick and E are
dancing cheek to cheek in a corner. Rick's sister is dancing with a
toddler, holding the boy's arms up as he stands on her toes.
you get all cynical," Garrison finally says near Josh's ear,
"just remember what it was like when we didn't even have the
Josh raises Garrison's knuckles for a quick kiss. "I didn't say
getting married was bad. I just don't see what all the fuss is about
with weddings. It's one day. I'm with you forever; I don't need other
people to cheer us on."
romantic, you ass. We're sharing happiness and reflecting on how good
our own lives are."
already do that every day," Josh murmurs. "I know I'm
sighs but gives him a fond look and Josh grins, knowing he's
right you're lucky," Garrison says with a little attitude, but
Josh spoils it by kissing him sweetly.
Yeah, I am."
watches the crowd, nodding at Rick's sister when he has Josh's
attention. "Isn't that adorable?"
glances over at the little boy studiously watching the feet he's
standing on, waving his arms in her hands.
thinking two," Garrison says, apropos of nothing, and Josh has
to draw back, gazing into his eyes. He's serious.
swallows. "Two, huh? What about starting with one and working
our way up?"
grin is a challenge. "We could adopt siblings, help keep a
go for an eighteen-year-old who already has a job?" Josh jokes,
but his palms are sweating.
really planning to do this. That conversation in the kitchen was just
testing the waters, but this -- this is Garrison having a plan.
think we can't handle two?" Garrison asks lightly.
is quiet a moment, giving the issue the thought it deserves. They’re
both the oldest of three siblings and they know how crazy that can
be. Two might be a good number.
think we can handle anything," he responds, and Garrison rewards
him with a breathtaking grin, eyes alight.
laugh together, giddy and shaky and amazed. They've stopped dancing
and are just holding each other's waists, foreheads close.
you two on about?" Roby demands, pausing as he’s about to
stroll past them with his date.
they say simultaneously and start laughing again. Garrison hooks his
arm over Josh's shoulders and plants a kiss on the side of his head.
as long as you're in a good mood." Roby taps Josh's arm. "Let's
make the DJ play the Funky Chicken!"
You will not!" Garrison pulls away from Josh to follow Roby with
a glare and Josh just has to laugh again.
life is good. It can only get better.
Since 2006, J. Rocci
has published LGBT romance stories, ranging from contemporary to
steampunk to fantasy. Rocci currently lives near Washington D.C. with
the love of her life and their furry children, and loves giving her
characters happy endings. You can find Rocci on the web at: