A warm welcome to author C.J Anthony visiting Love Bytes as a part of the What Happened in Vegas Blog Hop!
Make sure you check out the other stops to read some great short stories 🙂
The charity I’m choosing to feature is Project Fierce in Chicago, an organization trying to help take care of homeless LGBT kids in Chicago. Project Fierce Chicago is a grassroots collective of radical social workers, housing advocates and other community members who are working together to establish identity-affirming transitional housing in Chicago. Project Fierce’s mission is to reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago by providing transitional housing and support services to LGBTQ young adults experiencing homelessness. They have found a home on Chicago’s Southwest side, and are beginning the work of readying the space to house young people. They plan to provide supportive, transitional housing to 10-12 LGBTQ-identified young adults.
Marrying the Best Man
by C.J Anthony
Dum dum da dum, dum dum da dum…
Dum dum da dum, dum dum da dum…
chirp chirp chirp
chirp chirp chirp
chirp chirp chirp
I reached my hand out blindly, searching for…what again?
chirp chirp chirp
Oh yeah, my phone. Gotta stop that horrible noise.
I finally located what felt like a phone on that thing—nightstand, right—next to the bed. I grabbed it and managed to bring it close enough so that I only had to crack an eye to see it. Four freaking text messages from Lana. And two missed calls. Ah, that would explain the wedding music I heard. She set her ringtone on my phone to that lovely little jingle one day when I was helping her with her wedding plans. Three months later I really, really, really hated that music.
Are you up yet?
I’m knocking on your door! Open up!
Where the fuck are you?
Ugh, Brian’s here, wants to talk. Going down to the restaurant for breakfast. Hurry up!
I was aware enough to know I was in still in bed, but I had not heard any knocking on my door. If she was knocking on my door while she texted me why had I heard the text chime but not the knocking? And she couldn’t have gotten the wrong room, because my room was next door to hers. I could only deduce that I was not in my room. No shit Sherlock…Where the fuck was I?
I lifted my head up from the pillow and immediately groaned in agony. I think the Budweiser Clydesdale horses were stampeding through my head. And I don’t even like beer. Clearly I liked something last night though, very, very much. My mouth tasted nasty and dry and tsunami waves were sloshing about in my stomach. Man, I hadn’t felt like this since college. I think that was also the last time I woke up in a strange place, not knowing where I was. Or who I was with.
I pushed through the protestations my stomach and body made and shifted so I was upright against the headboard. Glancing down I saw I was bare chested and—I lifted the comforter up—yep, completely naked. I groaned again and glanced over to my right. The man next to me was sleeping on his stomach and also appeared naked, with the comforter just barely covering one very nice, very round butt cheek. His face was turned away from me so all I could see was a head of short dark hair and very well defined hairy arms and legs. Well at least he’s hot, the alcohol haze didn’t cause me to drop my standards. It obviously affected his, though—I don’t normally attract someone of his level of hotness. I’m no slouch in the looks department; I go to the gym enough to be fit, I’m just not that fit. I reached down and grabbed the comforter to cover myself up and stared at my hand. Something was different, what…? Oh holy fuck.
Oh. My. God.
A cheap, obnoxiously shiny silver ring now encircled my left ring finger. My left fucking ring finger.
Oh No. No, no, no, no, no. I sat up straighter, head be damned and looked around the room. I didn’t. We didn’t. We couldn’t have? I slipped out of bed as carefully as I could to not wake the man next to me.
The room was a disaster, our clothes strewn everywhere. I spied my underwear across the room hanging on a tilted lampshade. A white gift bag was lying on the floor by one of the chairs, it’s contents spilled out in a messy pile. I went over and started rifling through the evidence of our night. Oh. God.
One Marriage License from the state of Nevada. One receipt from the Love Me Tender Wedding Chapel, where we had apparently purchased the Deluxe Wedding Package that included the ring on my finger, flowers, witnesses, rented jackets and bow ties and photos. Photos of me and…Oh. My. God. Two happy drunk faces smiled up at me from a glossy photograph. Me and Sean, Brian’s brother. Holy fuck, I had married Sean. But he’s straight…right?
The next photo showed me still grinning at the camera and Sean, eyes closed, kissing me sloppily on the cheek. Okay so, maybe he’s not so straight? Especially since he had ended up naked in bed with me.
Naked in bed… oh shit. Also on the floor by the bag, was a whole box of condoms—brand new and unopened. I looked down at myself and touched my stomach. I could feel the crusty, dry cum still there, yuck. But was it his or mine? My ass felt fine, but I normally topped anyway, so that wasn’t necessarily an indicator of sex or no sex. I looked over at Sean, still in bed. Had we…without a condom? Oh God. This situation just kept getting worse.
I turned back to the rest of the photos. There we were, the happy couple, walking down the aisle, standing in front of—oh Lord—Elvis. Oh and one more where we were practically devouring each other’s faces and I was trying to claw Sean’s shirt off.
Dum dum da dum, dum dum da dum…
Dum dum da dum, dum dum da dum…
For fuck’s sake, Lana. I scrabbled for my phone and shut the ringer off before it woke Sean. I definitely was in no mood to talk to her right now, because this was all her fucking fault. Hers and Brian’s.
Lana and I had been best friends since grade school. She and Brian, the love of her life until last night, had gotten engaged a year ago and she had asked me to be her Best Man of Honor. I agreed and it had been a year of hell. She and Brian—and me on many occasions—got swept up in all the obsessive planning for this big elaborate wedding. Their families were pulling them in all sorts of directions, and this week, Lana and Brian had reached their limits. With only three more weeks to go until the big day, Lana had called me in a frazzle Friday afternoon. She told me to pack a bag, she was picking me up later and we were going to Vegas. When I calmly asked why, she wailed about all the wedding brouhaha and that she and Brian were over it and they had decided to just fly to Vegas to get married and be done with it. She was bringing me, and Brian was bringing his best man, his brother Sean.
Since we’d be getting into Vegas late Friday, the plan was to get up Sat., pick a chapel, make arrangements and by sunset, Lana and Brian would be officially hitched. Everything started unraveling as soon as we checked into the hotel Friday night. Both mothers of the newlyweds-to-be called Lana and Brian and they each had to make excuses as to where they were. Then the calls continued every hour or so, always about some various wedding detail. By Saturday morning, Brian was starting to cave on the whole Vegas thing and Sean and I were attempting to console and counsel our respective newlyweds. By Saturday afternoon, Lana and Brian were officially embroiled in a huge fight, and Sean and I had washed our hands of both of them, leaving the lovebirds to hash things out on their own. Which left Sean and I each stuck in Vegas with nothing to do and no one but each other to hang out with—two strangers who had just met the night before.
Through the hangover haze, images of what happened next were starting to come back to me—Sean suggested we go downstairs to the hotel bar and have a drink. We vented about Lana and Brian and the whole wedding fiasco. We did small talk about our lives—I think Sean said he was a nurse? Then we decided we were getting hungry and Sean said he knew a great, fun place that he had been to before. I remember being gob smacked when we got out of the cab at Lucky Cheng’s—a drag queen dinner theater.
Nope, he definitely was not straight.
An unintelligible mumble and the sound of rustling sheets came from the bed. Oh shit, Sean was waking up. He flopped over onto his back with a grunt and sat up slowly. Squinting, he rubbed his hand through his short hair. There was just barely enough to muss up and—dammit—he looked fucking hot, all sleepy and scruffy.
As his gaze finally hit on me, kneeling on the floor, my heart pounded. I didn’t know what to do. What was the protocol when your husband woke up and you weren’t sure if he even remembered you? I chose to give him a small wave—what a dork. My cock also started perking up in reaction to his stare and I remembered I was still naked. My hand automatically moved to cover myself, using the photos in my hand as a shield.
A sly, sleepy grin spread across his face. “Max,” he drawled in the most throaty, sexy voice I’d ever heard. “I think I’ve already seen what you’re covering up. A little late to be shy now.”
My face got so hot it felt like I needed to call 911 to report a fire. I laughed nervously. “Um, yeah I, uh…it sure seems that way.” And how do I tell you I don’t remember any of it? “Um, this is really embarrassing, but I’m still a little fuzzy on all the details from last night and uh, I found these way over here,” I shook the box of condoms for emphasis. “Did we…?”
He frowned a bit in puzzlement as he considered the situation. He looked down at himself and cringed, as he passed his hand over his stomach, much like I had. He stared off into space for a bit, then his eyes lit up in recognition. He shot me another of those sexy, knowing grins that were going to kill me dead if he didn’t stop them soon. “No…I remember now…we didn’t make it that far, we both shot off really fast and then you passed out.”
My whole body sagged in relief. “Oh thank God!” I uttered.
A subdued ”yeah,” was all I heard from the direction of the bed.
Oh shit. Had I sounded too happy? It had been way too long since I’d dealt with the awkward morning-after-a-one-night-stand-you-don’t-remember.
“I mean, we kind of forgot something really important,” I shook the box again. “So you know, it’s probably best that—”
Sean held up a hand and forced a smile. “No worries, Max, I get what you meant, a close call avoided is always a good thing.”
I smiled gratefully, then decided to clarify something else, hoping it didn’t seem too ridiculous at this point.
“You’re awfully calm about waking up naked with another naked man. You are gay right?”
He stared at me blankly and then frowned. ”Hell no, guess the alcohol faeries must have sprinkled gay dust on me, turning me gay for a night.” he said sarcastically.
Crap. “Okay I deserved that.” I said as I smiled in spite of myself.
His frown softened. “My first crush was on Billy Carpenter in the first grade, so I promise you, I’ve been gay a long time before this weekend. Did you really think I was straight?”
“Totally. Well, until you took me to the drag club. I do remember that part of the evening.”
Sean tipped his head back and laughed out loud. “You had fun didn’t you?”
“Umm I think so? Things started getting cloudy about then.”
“You really liked their Mai-Tais, if I recall.”
My face burned again. “Listen, I need to apologize for my behavior last night, I haven’t gotten that drunk in a very, very long time.”
“Hey, nothing to apologize for. I mean, obviously you weren’t the only one who went a little overboard last night,” Sean said calmly.
“Well, getting so hammered you can’t remember anything the next day is acceptable at a certain age but not so cute when you’re thirty and know better. Really, I swear this is not normal behavior for me.”
“Max, it’s okay. This isn’t normal behavior for me either, don’t sweat it. It’s Vegas…crazy behavior is practically required.”
“Speaking of crazy…” I held up my left hand. “What the hell were we thinking?”
He glanced down at his own hand, then looked at me sheepishly. “Yeah. Um. I don’t even know what to say.”
“You’ve been pretty good at remembering everything else, do you know why we thought getting married was a good idea?”
He scratched his head and was silent for several minutes. Finally, he spoke. “Nah…I remember going to Lucky Cheng’s…and then later when we came back here. But everything in between is hazy.”
I groaned. “How did both of us manage to get so sloshed last night?”
“Those Mai-Tais were really good. And really strong.” Sean climbed out of the covers and came over to sit on the floor next to me. I averted my eyes and pretended to look at a piece of lint on the floor. He was naked and apparently held no shame in letting it all hang out in front of me, a total stranger for the most part. Not that he had anything to feel shameful about. Quite the opposite—he was so fucking hot, every muscle perfectly sculpted and everything in perfect proportion. Absolutely everything if you know what I mean. As he lowered himself to the floor, he was right there at eye level…I couldn’t help but see everything. It was beautiful. And my everything really really liked his everything too. So much so it was heading to full mast and I tried to think of anything disgusting I could to make it calm down.
“So, what is all this?” he asked. He looked at the marriage license and the wedding chapel receipt, and whistled when he saw the amount our little drunken adventure had cost us. He swiveled his head and looked down at the pictures, which were still in my hand and still covering my junk. Looking up to meet my eyes, he smirked and held out his hand. “Let me see the pictures.”
My posture straightened and I tried to look cool as I slowly handed him the photos, while grabbing the white shopping bag to replace where the photos had been.
Still looking me in the eye, he just shook his head at me. I ignored him and said nothing.
He flipped though the pictures. “Wow.” He chuckled at the more risqué ones. “We certainly look happy,” he said quietly.
I let out a loud breath. “At least it’s not legal.”
He looked at me, eyebrow raised. “Um, yes it is. It says right here in the informational packet that the Elvis who married us is legally ordained to perform marriage ceremonies.”
I waved my hand dismissively. “I mean because we’re gay. Never thought I’d be glad to not be allowed to marry!”
He looked at me incredulously. “Did you hit your head last night too? Marriage is legal for everyone now, in every state. Hard to miss that one unless you were living under a rock.”
Oh shit. I covered my face with both of my hands. “Those damn Mai-Tais,” I mumbled through my fingers. It had only been a few weeks since the Supreme Court decision had come down. I’d spent all my life being banned from marrying and it would take some time to get used to the fact that now I could. And even worse, that now I was married. Damn Mai-Tais.
I sighed heavily. ”Okay, so…we’re really married, now how do we get out of it? If Elvis can marry us then there has to be an Elvis who will unmarry us, right?”
Sean bit his lip. “I don’t think so.”
“Well one of those drag queens then—surely one of them has a legally binding magic wand they can wave and ‘poof’ we’re single again?”
“Did you smoke something last night with those Mai-Tais?” He was attempting to retain a serious and concerned expression, but he was losing the battle, ready to burst out laughing at any second.
“It’s not funny!” I shouted. “This is serious! We’re fucking married!” My voice was louder than it should have been, but a raging headache was overtaking the drunken haze now, and I was getting pissed that he didn’t seem as upset about this as I was.
“I’m not laughing,” he said, while his mouth quirked upward and his eyes twinkled.
chirp chirp chirp
WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU? Got us on an earlier flight, need to leave for the airport ASAP!
Lana. “Shit. Shit, shit, shit.” I mumbled and jumped up, still holding the bag in front of me. “Look, I have to get packed and get downstairs or Lana’s going to eat me for breakfast.”
I ran for the bathroom and slammed the door behind me. When I emerged from the shower, I saw my clothes from last night—folded and sitting on the vanity, next to two Tylenol and a large glass of water. Had to be Sean, of course. My stress and anger leveled out, replaced by embarrassment.
When I came out of the bathroom, Sean was sitting on the bed in his jeans, hunched over and reading something intently on his phone.
“Thanks,” I said shyly. “For my clothes. And the Tylenol. I’m sorry for snapping earlier.”
“S’okay.” Sean looked up from his phone. “Okay, so if we could stay in Vegas till tomorrow, we could get a quickie annulment, but obviously neither one of us can do that. So the next option is getting a divorce or annulment once we get home to San Diego.”
I winced. “I really don’t want anyone to find out about this.”
“Well, the State of California will know, I don’t think we can get around that.” He looked back at his phone and tapped it a couple of times. “And from the state’s website, there is a ton of paperwork, court appearances…it could take months to go through.”
I groaned. “For fuck’s sake! Drunk people get married by accident all the time, surely there has to be some special ‘oops I made a mistake’ quickie divorce—check here for ‘I Don’t.’“
Sean’s mouth twitched, trying to hold in a smile. My phone chirped again and Sean waved a hand at me. “Go on,” he said. “I’ll keep researching and let you know if I find any better solutions,”
“Thank you,” I said gratefully. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. “The sooner we can figure how to get out of this mess, the sooner we can forget it ever happened,” I muttered.
“Sure.” Sean’s voice was low and he didn’t look at me. I figured he was probably as embarrassed as much as I was by the whole situation.
“Great. So…we’ll be in touch.”
“Yeah.” He gave me a half-hearted smile.
I headed for the door, but turned back to him. “Oh, and since ‘Whatever happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas’ can we also make that ‘whatever happens in this room stays in this room?’ Can we not tell Lana and Brian…you know, just keep this our little secret?”
Sean cocked an eyebrow but his face remained impassive. “Whatever you want Max.”
I smiled in relief. “Thanks.”
* * * *
Later that night, Sean Face Timed me.
“Sean, hi. You and Brian made it home okay?”
“Yeah, fine.” He looked tired and his tone was clipped as he jumped right into the reason for the call, rather than engage further in my polite attempt at small talk.
“Listen, before I left the hotel, I asked for advice from the concierge about our situation. He gave me a business card for a lawyer in Vegas who specializes in getting quick annulments for his clients.”
“A lawyer? Ugh that sounds expensive.”
“Actually his prices seem pretty reasonable. Check out his website.”
I pulled up the website link he sent me, cringing at the page that loaded. “Are you sure he’s legit, he looks and sounds like one of those accident-chasing lawyers that advertise on TV.”
“The concierge promised he’s legit and good at what he does. And it’s all legal. Hopefully if everything goes right, within a few weeks we’ll be single men again.”
The website did promise a typical turnaround time of 1-2 weeks, depending on the court’s schedule. He would handle all of the paperwork, all we had to do was sign and wait on confirmation of our annulment. I sighed. “Fine. So what now?”
Sean contacted the lawyer’s office and arranged for a video conference call appointment the next day. The man was very cordial but all business and did seem to know exactly what needed to be done. He also passed no judgment on our story of how we ended up married and why we needed it annulled. Then again, specializing in divorce and annulments in Las Vegas, he probably heard similar stories—and much more lurid ones, I’m sure—every day. By the end of the day, I got the email with the forms attached. I signed them digitally and pressed send. Not ten minutes later I got a text from Sean.
Got the forms. Did you?
Yep. Just signed and sent back, I replied. Still sitting at my desk, I started going through the pile of mail that had come earlier. There was a square white cardboard envelope from the Love Me Tender Wedding Chapel. I groaned inwardly. What now?
Inside were a CD and a small note attached: Max and Sean, Here is the photo CD with all of the pictures from your wedding. Best wishes for a long and happy marriage! Evelyn. More pictures, great. I put the CD in my computer and opened it up.
There were about twenty-five photos total. The same ones I’d seen in print in Vegas and some new ones of the ceremony. There was one of us putting the rings on each other’s fingers. One of us holding hands in front of Elvis while looking at each other, grinning like the fools we were. Another of us after the ceremony, arms linked holding glasses of champagne up to the others’ lips—as if we’d really needed more alcohol at that point. When I got to the end my finger hovered over the “eject” button on the keyboard but I hesitated, and instead began flipping through the photos again. I tried to tell myself I didn’t need to torture myself more by looking at the evidence of the stupid mistake we’d made. But as I viewed the pictures I found that I didn’t feel regret or embarrassment—only a pang of sadness. Growing up I never thought I’d ever get married—in my early twenties it was the typical phase of “never wanting to be tied down,” and then as I got closer to thirty, it was the resignation and acceptance of knowing I’d never be able to really be married to another man. The last few years and the marriage equality fight had brought small glimmers of hope I always tried to tamp down. But now—now that it was law, I could legally marry another man and I had. The most important moment of my life and not only did I not know the man I married, I couldn’t remember any of it. At least we looked happy, even if it was all alcohol-infused.
My eyes were drawn to Sean. God, he was hot and sexy and beautiful. That smile sent shivery feelings through me. For one night he had been mine and I didn’t even remember it.
The chime of an email arriving broke me out of my thoughts. It was from the lawyer, confirming he had received my signed documents and would get everything filed tomorrow. I sighed and ejected the CD and clicked off the computer.
* * * *
Two days later Lana and Brian and all the big huge fancy wedding plans were back on. Things were a whirlwind and I was grateful for the distraction from checking my email every five minutes to see if the annulment had come through. I saw Sean periodically during the final preparations, but thankfully we didn’t have to interact closely on anything. We were cordial if we were around others, but it was awkward. Sometimes I swore I would catch him looking at me and when I did he would just give me a sad smile and look away.
We texted at least once a week or so, only to see if the other had heard any news from the lawyer.
Before I knew it, the night before the wedding had arrived and I was finally settling down in bed, exhausted from a long day of helping Lana. I hadn’t had any time all day to check my email and phone notifications, so I scrolled through my phone before going to sleep. When I got to my email I stared numbly at the subject line of our lawyer’s email—”Congratulations.” My heart beat double-time and I was now fully awake as I opened it and skimmed. The annulment had gone through with no problem, he said. As of today in the state of Nevada—and the entire U.S.—I was no longer married.
With shaky fingers I typed out a message to Sean, hoping he was still up.
Hey, did you check your email? It came through.
What? Holy shit…BRB
A few minutes later he was typing again.
Wow. It’s finally official.
Yes, officially over. I typed.
A few minutes passed and I thought he’d gone to bed until my phone chirped again.
So…I guess that’s it then.
Yeah. That’s it, I responded. I waited to see if Sean would type anything else but the phone remained silent.
* * * *
The next day was a flurry of activity. As the “Man of Honor,” one of my tasks pre-ceremony was to deliver Lana’s wedding gift to Brian’s hotel suite where he and his groomsmen were getting ready. I did so, without thinking and my breath was completely stolen from me when Sean answered Brian’s door.
He was already dressed in his tux—dark black, well-tailored to fit every inch of him perfectly. Underneath the jacket his white shirt was crisp and bright white, the buttons almost straining across his broad chest. The only part missing was his tie. The black tails of it hung down loosely under his shirt collar, which was unbuttoned just enough to show a peek of his gloriously dark chest hair.
I swallowed and tried to find my voice. When I finally did, it was not my purpose for being there that I blurted out.
“You look…amazing.” I said quietly.
His eyes broke from mine and slowly travelled down the length of me.
His lips quirked but his eyes looked sad. “So do you, Max.”
We stared at each other for a brief moment more before I remembered why I was there. I shook myself and thrust out the small box in my hand. “Um, special delivery for the groom, from his bride.”
“Ah,” Sean said as he took the box from me. “Hold on.” He ducked back into the room and then came back with a small bag. “Return delivery from the groom to the bride.”
I smiled. “Great. Thanks. So…” I trailed off, not knowing what to say next.
“Where’s my best man?” a loud voice—Brian— called out from inside the room.
Sean shrugged his shoulders. “Duty calls,” he said with a smile and then shut the door.
That was the last time the whole day that we spoke. There were too many people and too much going on. The wedding, at least, went off without a hitch. Lana—despite all of the stress of Vegas and the last few weeks—looked radiantly happy, as did her groom.
* * * *
A week later, my phone rang.
I answered cautiously. “Hello?”
“Hey Max, how are you?” It was Sean.
“I’m good.” I could hear the sounds of an intercom in the background, paging someone, so I figured he must be at work. “Actually I’m almost done with an overnight shift and I really need some good coffee.” He was silent for a moment. “I was wondering if you’d like to grab a cup with me? Maybe some lunch too? I’m starved, hospital food sucks.”
I was so surprised to hear from him, I didn’t answer immediately.
“Just…as friends, you know. Unless you’re busy—”
“No,” I interrupted him. “I mean, no, I’m not busy.”
* * * *
Two years later…
I turned my phone on as I walked out the doors of the Las Vegas airport. While it booted up, I scanned all of the waiting shuttles and cars until I spied the dark town car and the driver holding a white card with my name on it. As I headed toward the car, my phone chimed with a message I’d missed while on the plane.
Hey babe there was a problem with my room. They moved me to the Bellagio. I’m waiting for you in the lobby. C U soon. Love you. 🙂
I stopped walking and cringed. The Bellagio, ugh. Of all the flipping hotels in Vegas why did he get moved to that one? I had such bad memories of that hotel from the last trip to Vegas. Not that it was the hotel’s fault I guess. Oh well, I sighed. That was then and this was now. And oh how different now was from then.
I walked into the Bellagio, filled with people hustling and bustling everywhere. Glancing around I finally saw him standing by the elevators. He met my gaze at that exact moment and that sweet sexy grin I loved so much stretched across his beautiful face. Hurrying over to me, Sean wrapped me up in a fierce hug the minute I was in arms reach. “Baby, you made it.” He inhaled deeply as he nuzzled my neck. ”Have I missed you.”
I squirmed a little, I couldn’t help it. Being trapped in his embrace, our whole bodies touching, gave me warm chills all over. It had been two years since Sean’s original invitation for coffee, as “friends”—which I later found out he only used that word so as not to scare me away. Coffee turned into more coffee dates which turned into lunches, then dinners and finally sex—lots and lots of ohmyGod sex. There were also cuddles on the couch, Sunday mornings in bed and then moving in together six months ago.
“Hmmm…” I hummed. “It’s nice to see you too, but you either have to let me go or we’re going to give all of the Vegas tourists in this lobby quite a show.”
He laughed and his warm breath sent more tickles through me, straight to my cock. It may have only been two days but me and my cock had missed him. He pulled away and kissed me chastely on the lips before completely disentangling our bodies. “All right, spoilsport.” He picked up my carryon bag. “Let’s get upstairs.”
Sean was in Vegas for some kind of nurse’s conference, and he had spent weeks convincing me to come join him for the weekend in Vegas after the conference was over. After our last experience I wanted no part of coming back here, but in the end, I finally agreed just to shut him up.
On the way up the elevators we chatted. I asked him how his conference was and he was vague, but said it was fine. I showed him the latest picture Lana had texted me. She still had a month to go before the baby was due, but she was as big as a house. Both of us would be uncles soon.
We stepped off at his floor and walked about halfway down the hall. I looked at the room number and let go of his hand. “Oh no. No, no, no, no! This is the same fucking room you had last time! We are not staying here!”
He put his arm around me and spoke to me in a quiet but pleading voice. “Max, this is the room they gave me, I swear. It’s just a coincidence.”
I crossed my arms in front of me. “I’m not staying here.”
He sighed. “Fine, but can we just go in for a few minutes. I’ll call down to the front desk and see if they will switch us.”
I glared at him. “Fine. Just for a few minutes.”
He opened the door and took my hand to guide me inside. I gasped. The room was much cleaner and tidier than last time without our clothes and wedding paraphernalia thrown everywhere. There were candles throughout the room, their flames flickering softly. On the table in the corner was a plate of chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne chilling in a sterling silver bucket of ice. And the bed was covered with rose petals.
I took the room in slowly then turned to look at Sean, who was grinning happily at me. “What is all this?”
“First off, I have to come clean, I didn’t have a conference here, I just needed some excuse to get you to come. I’ve been hiding out at Lana and Brian’s house for two days.” He sat my bag down and came over to me slowly. Reaching out, he took both of my hands in his. “I know Vegas only holds bad memories for you, but I want us to change that. Because for me, Vegas was nothing but a good memory. It was the place we met. It was the start of us…even if it ended in divorce.” He winked at me.
And then he was down on one knee, holding my left palm in one hand and an open ring box in the other. “My wonderful Max, will you marry me? Again?”
My mouth opened but nothing wanted to come out. I tried again. My throat was dry, my heart was pounding and I couldn’t breathe. I hope Sean would be able to catch me when I keeled over.
Finally my eyes focused on him. His beautiful twinkling blue eyes shining with pure love. For me. Me. I took a breath, my body calmed, and his love filled me up, giving me strength and hope and happiness. I felt my facial muscles stretch as I smiled down at my ex-husband, then lover, and now my husband-to-be (again). And my voice came back to me.
Sean stood and enveloped me in his arms, both of us laughing and crying and kissing. When we eventully calmed down he pulled my hand up to place the ring on my finger but I pulled it away.
“Hold on, I have one condition.” I narrowed my eyes as I looked at him. “We are not getting married in Vegas this time. I love you, but I have to draw the line.”
“I’m serious. If you’ve got another Elvis lined up to marry us, you can just keep that ring in its box.” This just caused him to laugh more.
He finally quieted and luckily was still smiling at me. “No wedding in Vegas, I promise. I would never press my luck. My only plan for this weekend was to get you to say yes and to put a ring on it. We can go back home and have any kind of ceremony you want. All I care about is that I get to marry you, I don’t care how it happens.”
I lost my breath again but this time it was from the sizzling kiss he laid on me.
* * * *
chirp chirp chirp
Ugh, what was that noise…oh, my phone. Lana, of course.
Any news to share???? she texted with about ten emojis of smiley faces and diamond rings.
I shook my head and set the phone back on the nightstand. I looked around the room. Clothes were strewn everywhere and I was naked. I grabbed for the comforter and saw the ring on my hand. Complete déjà vu—except this time there was a huge smile on my face. And this time I knew who the man in my bed was. He was my future husband—even if it was the second time around, it would definitely be the last.
C.J. Anthony started reading and writing at an early age. She attributes her love of reading and romance to her mother who not only taught her to read but also made countless trips to the library lugging piles of books home for her to read. She loved getting lost in the people and places and adventures she found in books and it wasn’t a far jump to start writing her own stories, early childhood tales about flower families and travelling to the moon with her best friend.
She recently was inspired to try writing again, this time with tales of beautiful men in love speaking to her and wanting their stories to be told. C. J. has always believed in true love and HEAs even if there is angst and pain along the way–life is never perfect, after all, but everyone deserves a happy ending and someone there to catch them when they fall.
You can find C. J. at:
@C_J_Anthony on Twitter