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The Conquered - Chapter 35: Trials (part 9)

***** Sebastian *****

I walked into our apartment with my briefcase in one hand as I tried to jiggle the keys out of the lock while holding my cell phone to my ear. "Si, Mama."

"Sebastian, you need to call me after you talk to Donito. Let me know what he thinks."

I groaned silently in my mind. Great. One more wedding detail. "I will, Mama."

"Call soon, Sebastian."

"Si, Mama. Te quiero."

I keyed off the phone and leaned against the door and dropped my briefcase. I was tired; at this time last year I juggled extra training, a full workload, and a new relationship with Don, yet I hadn't been as exhausted as I was now. I shoved my keys into my pocket and walked to the hall table and plugged in my cell to recharge. I heard some shuffling in the bedroom and walked towards it.

I stepped through the door and nearly tripped over a stack of boxes. "What's all this?"

Don came out from the bathroom with an arm full of towels and smiled. "I had some free time, and thought I'd start packing."

I groaned as I sat on the edge of the bed, once I'd traversed the maze of boxes. I undid my shoes and loosened my tie. "We aren't moving until the first."

Don set the towels in a box and went back into the bathroom. "I know. But we have to do what we can when we can."

I unbuttoned my shirt and wadded it up. I stood and dropped my pants then bent down to take off my socks. I stood in my briefs and rubbed my belly. I was hungry, but too tired to even think about dinner. Don came out of the bathroom with a few more items before dropping them on top of the towels. I stared in morbid fascination as he went back into the bathroom and whistled as he emptied the cabinet under the sink. I shook my head and stared at the bed, so inviting.

Giving in to temptation, I lay down and stared at the ceiling. After Don's third trip back from the bathroom, he glanced at me. "What? Lying down on the job?"

I rolled my neck lazily to watch him. "I'm just a little tired."

Don sat on the edge of the bed and ran his hand along my thigh. "Bad day?"

"No. It was a good day. Just long."

He grinned and patted my belly. "Roll over."

I groaned. "Not now, Don. I'm not in the mood."

Don started to laugh. "Not exactly what I had in mind."

I looked at him and smiled, probably the first real one since lunch. I rolled onto my belly and felt Don shift until he straddled my ass. His big, strong hands gripped my shoulders and began kneading the stiff, tight muscles until I moaned. "Madre de Dios. That feels good."

Don leaned against my back until his lips brushed against my ear. "It's supposed to."

He slowly worked from my neck to the base of my spine, his thick fingers digging out knots, soothing tired muscles, and turned me into a limp pile of jelly. As he shifted, I felt his thick length, quite hard, press into my hip. The very thought of sex before he'd started was beyond me. Now, it didn't sound like such a bad idea.

Don worked his way down my thighs so he could work his magic fingers on my ass, taking it into his hands and rubbing my ass until I was hard, leaking, and practically begging into the pillow. He continued down and worked each thigh and calf until he gripped my ankle. I heard the soft rustle of cloth and felt the strong, hairy plane of his chest press into my upper thighs as he gripped my feet and worked on the souls. I whimpered as he pressed into my instep and the last of my tension fled. He pulled my foot towards his mouth and bit into the ball of my foot gently.

I cried out as the pain/pleasure registered and I practically purred. I muttered under my breath, and until Don moaned, I didn't realize that I spoke Spanish. Don dropped my foot and sat up, grabbing the waistband of my underwear and practically ripped them off me. With one swift move, he parted my legs and buried his face against my ass. The first swipe of his tongue practically made me shoot against the sheets.

Before I knew it, Don was pressing his chest against my back, his thighs on either side of my own, and his knees pressing hard into the mattress as his cock brushed hard against me. He pressed against me and I felt my body open to accept him. He moved hard and fast, pounding me into the mattress.

The bed springs squeaked, the headboard hit the wall, I whimpered into the pillow, but over it all, was Don's throaty, breathy moans that reverberated through my ribcage as he bottomed out inside me. As I cried out my release, calling Don every endearing thing in Spanish I knew, Don sped up, rocking hard and fast into me, practically burning me with the sweet friction.

Just as Don stopped and I felt his body shudder hard, his cries echoing off the walls, I heard a creak and snap. The bed collapsed underneath us as Don went sprawling against my back. His chin hit the back of my head and I saw stars from it.

When the bed had settled and we were both dazed and panting heavily, Don lifted half off me, pulling out and flipping me over. His lip was bloodied as he cupped my face in his hand. His body still shook and all his hair was matted with sweat. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." We stared into each other's eyes until we couldn't hold back any longer. He collapsed against my side as we started to laugh. We laughed until we both had tears streaming down our faces.

After several minutes, and we'd run out of breath, we looked at each other. Don propped himself on his elbows and stared around the mess that the bed was in. "Shit. I can't believe we broke the bed."

I fought back another giggle. "Well. We knew we'd need a new one."

He looked over at me and grinned. "Guess what we're doing Saturday?"

"Apologizing to our downstairs neighbors?"

Don looked horrified for a second. Then he laughed. "That too."

We helped each other up and showered to cool down. As Don worked to remove the slats and headboard from the bed, leaving only the mattress and box springs on the floor, I called and ordered some take out. Don had slipped on some shorts and a tee shirt to carry things out to the dumpster. I pulled on a pair of Don's silly boxers that I got for him for his birthday and crawled into bed with my briefcase. Don came back into the apartment and shut the front door. I could smell the food from the bed. He rummaged around the kitchen before he came back to the bedroom. I set my work aside as he slipped off his clothes, stripping down to his underwear.

We ate for a few moments before my mother's call came back to me. "Shit. Don, Mama wants to know if you'd like to have a rehearsal dinner here for our friends or wait until we get to Wisconsin."

"As in wedding rehearsal?"

I shook my head. "More like a dinner for all the friends who can't make it to Wisconsin."

He pondered as he chew on another bite of pad thai. "Probably a good idea."

"I thought you'd say that. Would you mind calling her and telling her how many people?"

He leaned over and kissed me as he grabbed our plates. "Sure."

I got back to my files as Don brought a glass of water and the phone into the bedroom. He dialed the number and put the phone to his ear. "Hola, Mama."

I could hear her voice, but not the words. "Si, Mama." I smiled as he tried to talk to my mother in as much Spanish as he could manage. For a gringo, he didn't do too badly.

"Actually, Sebastian and I are going to be busy Saturday morning." I looked up as he paused. "We need to buy a new bed." My eyes went wide as he grinned at me. "Yeah, we busted up this one. Knocked it flat to the ground."

I wrestled the phone out of Don's hands and glared at him as I put the phone to my ear. "Mama, it isn't like that."

I heard a low, long chuckle fill my ears. "Antonio?"

"Yes, big brother. It's me."

I stared at Don and shook my head while mouthing the words, "you're dead," at him. "Did Don talk to Mama at all?"

"Yes. I took over to ask if I could come up and hang out Saturday before I went skiing at Tahoe with Carlos again."

"If you want to shop with us again... I don't have a problem." I looked at Don and he grinned and nodded. "Yeah. What time?"

"Can I come up tomorrow night?"

"Sure. We have class at the Dojo, but you're more than welcome."

"I'll see you at six then."

I hung up the phone and dove for Don. "You'll pay for that!"

Don laughed as he rolled me unto my back. "Gladly."

***** Sean *****

Who knew it was hot in Florida in February? I wiped my brow with the hem of my cut-off t-shirt and then pressed the doorbell. I turned around and looked at the lawn while I waited for an answer. Damn, it was hot. I heard the door unlock and I turned around.

A man who looked like a larger, older version of Gordon answered the door. "May I help you?" His eyes scanned me briefly, pausing at my shorts before coming back up to my chest and then face.

Are my nipples showing through this shirt? That was a stupid question. The material was already damp; of course they were showing through. His gaze wasn't lude, or even particularly sexual, but the effect of his short appraisal was immediate; my already tight shorts got even tighter. "Hi, I'm Sean... uhm... I'm here to pick up Gordon?"

Gordon got to the door before the man could respond. "Dad, stop scoping out my date; you old letch," he laugh, smacking his father on the arm while sliding past. "Hey, Sean." I didn't get to say anything back other than a startled mumble as Gordon pushed in and gave me a quick kiss. His father looked about as shell shocked while I felt as Gordon spun me about and shoved me for the street, calling out, "Don't wait up!"

I couldn't even formulate words until we were around the corner. "What the hell was that?"

Gordon started to laugh. "Just trying to get my dad to loosen up." When he saw my confused expression, he shrugged. "I came home last night from the movies and caught Dad and Lyle making out on the couch." Rolling his eyes, he made a disgusted noise. "You'd have thought my grandmother had walked in on them or something. Dad was off the couch, sending Lyle to the floor, faster than you could say 'oops'."

"So what does that have to do with kissing me on the front porch?"

"I don't know." He shoved his hands in his pockets. "You were standing there, looking like the cover model of Twink Magazine, and I just thought maybe if Dad knew I wasn't grossed out by gay guys, he'd lighten up." He looked at me, sighed, and walked a little slower as he looked ahead. "I didn't mean anything by it."

I grinned. "Damn. And there I'd gone getting my hopes up..."

Gordon pulled his hands out of his pockets and put them up. "No, man... really. I'm sorry."

I laughed and shouldered him. "You're cool for a straight guy, Gordon." I looked up the street and added, "Saves me having to turn you down... you're just not my type."

"Excuse me?"

"You're too skinny, man."

Gordon groped his pouch. "Not that skinny!"

I just cracked up. "For a guy insisting he's straight, you're certainly working hard to make me think otherwise."

"I'm straight, just not narrow. Guy sex doesn't scare me." He grinned. "I even snuck a couple of my Dad's videos once, just to see if I was kidding myself."

I waited for him to continue, but he didn't. By the time we got down to the park, I needed to satisfy my curiosity. "And?"

"Apparently my Dad's bi... cause one of his vids was called 'Curious'. The guy sex thing didn't do it for me, but they also had girl on girl, and guy-guy-girl, and girl-guy-guy-girl."

I had the feeling I'd need a score card for that video. "And?" I spotted Katie's car and headed that way.

He grinned. "The guy-girl combos were hot. If my woman wanted a threesome with another guy, I wouldn't go screaming from the room."

I laughed. "Maybe I should borrow a few of those."

Gordon raised an eyebrow at me.

"Who knows, maybe I'll have some hot guy offer me a three-way with him and his girlfriend. I'd rather know in advance whether or not I'll run screaming from the room."

"Run screaming from what," Katie asked as she finished pulling the cooler from the back seat.

"Naked female parts," Gordon said, trying to make it sound spooky.

Katie snorted. "Sean's too cool to be run off by a naked girl." She kissed Gordon on the cheek. "Just like you're too cool to be terrified of a naked guy."

"I admit, some guys have better asses than girls," Gordon appraised, performing an exaggerated maneuver to get a good look at my butt.

Katie threatened him as she handed him the cooler. "No staring at Sean's butt! That's my gay boy ass until such time as a real man claims it."

Gordon puffed up like a blowfish. "I'm a real man!"

"There he goes again, trying to insist he's man enough for me," I teased. I turned around, bracing my hands on the trunk of her car, and pushed my butt towards them. "Do these shorts make my ass look big?"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Katie turned Gordon around had shoved him towards the picnic area. "Right now you're a pack mule, and I have something to help slim down Sean's ass problem."

Gordon left, muttering to himself.

I stood back up. "Your gay boy ass, huh?"

Katie pulled out the towels and lotion bag. "Mine. You're going to make an issue out of it?"

"Nope," I replied, taking the towels, "Just how am I supposed to get the ownership papers transferred when I find that real man?"

Katie grinned and started after Gordon. "If he's a real man, Sean, there will be no doubt as to who owns your ass. No transfer of title will be necessary."

I loved Katie, but I hoped I would meet a real man real soon. She had no use for my ass, and my toys weren't cuddle worthy.

***** Andrew *****

Who knew that wedding rehearsals were so very, very technical? I mean, the groom will stand at this point and turn. I'd escort Mom at a specific pace, following the music. Moira would follow shortly behind, etc, etc, etc. It got ridiculous after only a few minutes. No wonder Mom was dying of jitters.

It was good to meet Kelly and Malcolm. Kelly, with her tall, willowy frame, still losing a few pregnancy pounds and her golden blonde hair was adorable as she held little Ian. Malcolm with his dark hair, military buzzed, and squat, muscular frame looked adorable together as they glanced at each other. I sat by them as she fed Ian, rocking him as Malcolm talked with Buck near one of the tables. "Glad you could make it over here for this."

Kelly looked up from where she burped Ian and smiled. "It is good to finally meet you."

I smiled as I plucked at the table cloth absently. "Yeah, a few phone calls don't really let you know how you're going to like someone."

"I agree." Ian let out a very impressive belch to which we both smiled. "And it's good to see Dad so happy again."

"Yeah." I looked down at the table cloth. "I wanted to thank you... for sharing your father with me."

I felt her hand press against my arm. "It goes both ways. I love your mother. Thanks for sharing her with me."

I looked up and smiled. "You're welcome."

I heard a knife clinking against a glass and looked to where Buck stood, grinning like an idiot. "Family. Friends. Everyone. I want every body here to know how happy I am. Thank you for sharing this with us."

Mom stood and kissed his cheek. "Ditto."

We all chuckled. I raised my water glass and smiled. I caught sight of Taylor across the room and watched as my smile dimmed. Damn. I looked down and set my glass aside. The specter of my nightmare and the revelation about my almost infidelity had put yet another strain on us. I looked over at Kelly and smiled a bit sadly.

She looked between Taylor and myself and gave me a rueful grin. "Trouble in paradise?"

"We're working on some stuff."

She nodded. "I know how that goes." My eyebrows rose and she smiled. "Did you think we all go through life happy? Gay or straight, no relationship is easy."

I rolled my eyes. "I knew that. But... you both seem so retarded in love for each other."

"We are." She laughed. "But that doesn't mean we don't have problems." She patted Ian's back and kissed the top of his downy head. "Do you think I wanted to live in Germany?"

"I hear it's not a bad place."

"It isn't. But my life was here; my father, my job, everything."

I frowned and shifted in my chair. "But, you're there."

"Yes. I am." She sighed. "Malcolm's in the Air Force. There isn't a choice. He can't say that he doesn't want to go." She looked over at her husband and smiled. "It was a tough time for us. Do I stay? Do I go? If I stayed, was it over for us?"

I nodded. I'd had an idea going through my head for quite some time, but wasn't sure how right it was. "I've thought that a relationship is something to be fought for. When you stop fighting for it, it's over."

She grinned and nodded. "I'd say that's about right. Do I fight for Malcolm, or fight him?" She kissed Ian's head again. "I fought for him. For us."

I shut my eyes as the words washed over me, clearing away the pain and hurt. Her hand touched my arm, and I opened my eyes. "You have to have faith."

I nodded. "I do. More than I ever thought I'd have in anyone."

Kelly flashed me a killer smile as she leaned forward and handed me Ian. "Do you mind holding him while I grab something from the buffet?"

I held him to me, shifting my hands. "Uh. Sure." My hand went to his butt as his head lolled towards my neck. "Great. I got it."

She chuckled and adjusted the burp cloth under Ian's head. "You're not a natural, but you'll be fine."

I stared down at the top of Ian's head. Hell, he wasn't even two months old yet. How come I always ended up holding the babies? I felt his hands balled up into fists, bopping against my neck. I adjusted him so he lay in the crook of my arm, his head cradled against my elbow. Dark, open eyes stared at me. Ian was still in the nearly ugly-baby phase, before his expressions and features became clearly defined. He was getting there, but he was still very much a blank canvass.

I found myself lost in his eyes as he kept trying to feed me his fist. I'd playfully nip at it, and watch as his eyes sharpened on my face. He felt so light, so helpless in my arms. "Found a new friend?"

My head went up to see Taylor standing over me. I smiled as Ian clocked my chin and swiped his very thin, but very sharp finger nail against my skin. "Ouch." I looked back at the baby and smiled. "Yeah, I think I have."

Taylor sat beside me and took one of Ian's feet in his hand. "He's so tiny."

I looked over at Taylor and smiled. "Yeah. He is." I leaned in to Taylor and touched my forehead to his. "I'm afraid I'm going to drop him."

Taylor chuckled. "You'd never hurt him. It isn't in you."

"Accidents happen." I mentally kicked my own ass when Taylor's eyes clouded. But he quickly brushed his thoughts aside.

"Yeah, they do. But you'd feel like hell if it did. And that says something."

We were still walking on egg shells around each other, especially since I'd been the latest catalyst in the gap between us. "Did you get something to eat?" Good one, Jackson, mother hen him some more.

But he only smiled. "Yeah, I did. How about you?"

I smiled as Taylor ran his fingers through my hair. I'd missed this so much, the easy, simple gestures of affection. "A bit. I wasn't that hungry."

His eyes opened wide in mock-shock. "You? Mr. Vacuum Stomach, not hungry?"

I nudged him with my shoulder. "I'm still working off the road trip weight."

"That was weeks ago. Give me a break."

I nodded. "Yeah. I ate."

Whether it was because we ran out of things to say, or the awkwardness of the last week, I didn't know. But we both grew tense to the point Taylor stood and walked to Moira and Tom. I watched as he leaned towards Moira and smiled at something she said. I looked down to see Ian asleep in my arms. Taylor would look really good holding a baby.

After a few minutes, I felt someone standing by me. I looked up to see Malcolm looking down at his son. Kelly came up beside her husband and he leaned in to kiss her cheek.

"Got something to eat?"

Kelly looked over at me and smiled. "Yeah. Thanks."

I looked down at Ian. "I think he's down for the count."

Malcolm chuckled. "His ears haven't cleared from the flight yet. He didn't sleep worth a damn at all last night."

I looked around, trying to figure out where Taylor had gone. "I hate to move him, but..."

Malcolm reached down and picked Ian up out of my arms. "No need to keep you on permanent baby sitter duty."

"Thanks." I got up and found Tom, chatting with Moira. I tapped his shoulder and waited for him to turn around. "Did you see where Taylor went?"

"I didn't." I started to move away, but his hand stopped me. "Did you get those papers signed?"

"I'll have them to you Tuesday, before you guys leave."

He nodded. "We'll stop by on our way out of town."

I hugged him quickly and kissed my sister on the cheek. I stared out over the crowd, searching for Taylor. Moira came up behind me and whispered in my ear, "Taylor's out on the balcony."

It was cold out. I walked by the coat check to the private upper floor of the restaurant before I stepped outside. I saw Taylor leaning against the railing, watching the lights twinkle on the Sacramento River. I placed his coat around his shoulders and placed my hands around his waist, lowering my chin to his forehead. "I love you, Taylor."

His hands came to rest on my own as he leaned back into my embrace. "I love you, too."

I shut my eyes, trying to block out the images of his hurt; of his pain. I wanted to wipe it all away, make him believe; make him have faith in us; in me. I sniffed deeply of his hair, taking in the smell of his shampoo. It made me grin.

My hands came up to his shoulders, moving over his body. I turned Taylor around and braced his face with my hands, his eyes open, but empty. What would it take to bring that sparkle back? What would it take to put us back to where we were? And did I want to go back to where we were?

I smiled at Taylor before I lowered to take his lips. My mouth moved over his as I brushed his lips once, twice, then three times. I pulled back to look in his eyes, seeing questions without answers in them. I didn't want to go back, I wanted the future, the stronger, better future; the one where he was open and honest and wanting to trust me. I didn't know how to tell him, but I could hopefully show him. With a groan, I kissed him again, putting all my need, all my frustration, all my love into it.

We kissed for long moments, drawing out the flavor and taste, the sensations. Then I felt his arms come around me, his cast against my shoulders, and his free hand threading through my hair. I wanted to touch him, taste him everywhere. None of it mattered any longer. Nothing but us; but this. I pulled away from his lips and started nipping kisses along his jaw until I could nuzzle his throat. "We can't lose this. We won't lose this."

"Never. Never. I'm not going anywhere."

I pressed my lips against his again, moaning as he opened his mouth and touched his tongue to mine. The groan left me as I pulled back from his mouth and buried my face against his neck, feeling his arms squeeze me tightly to him.

We held each other for several minutes, silently, with only the beating of our hearts heavy in my ears. I stepped away and cupped his face. "I love you."

His smile spread slowly across his face. His eyebrows drawing close together. "What's going on?"

I grinned and trailed my fingers along his jaw. "I have faith in you. In us." I swallowed. "I'm not giving up the fight for us." I pressed my lips against the frown between his eyebrows.

He drew my face to his lips and kissed me, pressing hard against my lips. I stepped out of his embrace and smiled. "We still have dinner to get through."

Taylor smiled and shook his head. "And toasts. And deserts."

I groaned. "Then..."

Taylor smiled. "And then..."

***** Taylor *****

I just wanted sex. That's it. Just sex. Why did Andrew have to hang so much on it? Why did it have to be some sign from above that we were "okay"? If we could just have sex again, without all the baggage, then we really would be "okay". Real life wasn't like the romance novels; one night of mind blowing sex did not "happily ever after" make. One night of sex could be life changing, relationship saving, and all the rest, sure, but we had other things to deal with; things bigger than Andrew's endowment and my ever widening ass.

I watched Andrew, son of the bride, make his rounds again. I couldn't believe how achy and needy I felt after only one argument, a couple confessions, and a week of abstinence. Mix together two control freaks, a dose of denial, some insecurities and maybe even a bit of self loathing and you had one nasty poison to kill a relationship. We hadn't managed a lethal dose, but some anti-venom would've been nice. I wanted my dose administered in the ass by a big hairy, muscle bound doctor.

"If I didn't know any better," Moira announced her approach in a low, knowing tone, "I'd say you were pining." She sipped her drink. "Or horny."

"More than a little of both," I admitted, taking another sip of my own drink.

"Anything I can do?" She asked, and then laughed at the look I gave her. "I meant emotional support or the like; resolving the horniness issue is up to you."

"Nah, thanks Moira. Just two pig headed, stubborn guys trying to work their way around a few issues." I looked at my watch and sighed. "Can you roll time ahead a couple hours? That would be useful."

Moira checked the little purse she had with her, examining the contents carefully. "Nope, sorry; left my time turner back at the house."

Ack, a Harry Potter reference. "Geek."

"Proud of it," she retorted.

"Magic won't solve this anyway," I sighed, "just a lot of communication and work."

"I'm sure you two will work it out," Moira assured me, smiling at Andrew as he glanced our way.

"Yeah," I agreed, "we will. I'd just like to get some of the rewards for diligence and hard work."

Moira raised an eyebrow. "Been that long, huh?"

"A week," I grumbled.

Moira started snickering, which turned into a full struggle not to laugh herself off her feet. She got control of herself and shook her head. "Give me a break, Taylor. A week does not a failed relationship make."

I glowered at her. "No," I said through clenched teeth, more angry at myself than her, "it doesn't."

"Well, I'm sure that will fix itself too." She shook her head again and then kissed me on the forehead. "I love having gay brothers," she murmured lovingly, "you guys put so much of my life into perspective for me."

It was impossible to stay angry with someone who was so lovingly delighted with your issues. "Glad to be of help," I grumbled, knowing I was all bark and no bite.

Tick, tock; tick, tock; tick, tock. I looked at my watch again; it didn't help. A watched pot never boils, was a falsehood; it did, but our perception of time was inversely proportionate to how fast it passed. The more we paid attention to time, the slower it passed; the less attention we paid to time, the faster it went. The problem was that we only paid attention to the time when we wanted or needed to be doing something else, but we couldn't until a certain "point in time." So instead of enjoying the party, I could only think of how long it would be before we could leave.

"You look distracted," Kelly, Andrew's soon to be stepsister, commented quietly.

I looked at her. "Lots on my mind." I looked over her husband and mine as they laughed at something we couldn't hear. "Malcolm is a lot more comfortable here than I would have expected."

Kelly looked over at her husband. "We weren't sure how he'd react. He's never had to look at how he'd deal with a 'real gay man' before. He's never..."

"... met a gay man before," I echoed. How many times had I heard that line? Most people had met gay men and women, they just never knew it because the average gay person didn't have a Scarlet G imprinted on their foreheads. Kelly raised an eyebrow at me, and I sighed, "I apologize; I've heard that line too many times in the last year."

"I can see how that would be annoying," she agreed, sipping her drink.

"Ten percent of the population is gay." I took a sip of my drink as well. "If you add in the non-practicing segment of bisexuals, I'd guess we're talking well over twenty, maybe even thirty percent. With a confirmed one out of ten people, and probably two out of ten, it's more likely people have spent most of their lives in company of gays." I nodded toward Andrew. "Flaming gay-hood is usually an affectation, but it isn't how the majority of gay men act. Andrew certainly isn't what most straight people expect when they meet a gay man."

"Malcolm said the same thing about you and Andrew," Kelly admitted. "He'd expected, well... how did he put it... a couple of 'nellies'?"

I nearly snorted my drink. "I haven't heard that one in a while."

"He still isn't all that comfortable with it, but he's keeping an open mind."

I smiled. "That's all anyone can ask. You married a good man, Kelly."

"Yeah," she sighed, smiling whimsically. After a moment, she nodded to where Andrew, Malcolm and Tom were laughing at some unheard joke. "So did you."

Yeah, I had. I looked at my watch again. Tick, tock; tick, tock; tick, tock.