Welcome to book Three of the William Carter series, this one is entitled Carter's Duty.

Ok, so people trust me now? if so a little positive reinforcement is good see link below for general comments.

I would love to hear what you think of these characters as they evolve.

I am aware of the chapter numbering problem. I accidentally added an extra chapter to the end of the first installment, that was my mistake and i will correct it.

remember the characters are now in thier mid twenties and dealing with modern life issues. not all of lifes situations are good ones. It's about how we choose to deal with them, and its about the people we surround ourselves with.

I want you to email me feed back if you are not enjoying this. Hell even if you are enjoying it let me know.

Comments or questions direct to asmodean_uk@yahoo.com. Feed back is welcome.

Chapter Eighteen

Andrew rested his forehead on his hand, "I'm sorry Will, nothing happened I swear to you." He gave Will a look filled with pain and hope, "you have to believe that."

"I do." Will replied, "it just... at the time I didn't know what to think."

"I'm sorry," Andrew pressed, "we were up all night talking. She knew I was gay, I told her... in fact we were talking about you most of the night. I just needed to talk to someone about what was going on."

Will shrugged, "It's okay, she may have known you were gay, but that wasn't going to stop her."

"What do you mean?" Andrew asked in confusion.


"You okay?" Jeff asked through the door of the bathroom.

Will contemplated the answer to that question, as he sat on the toilet staring at the tiled wall. Was he okay? How could he be okay? Everything he wanted was at an end. He wasn't okay, but he wasn't anything. Emotionless was the best way to describe him at that moment.

He was an emotional void, empty. He couldn't describe it; he should be angry, furious at the situation and the circumstances that had led up to it. But how could he? He had seen it coming and had prepared himself for it. So instead of pain, he felt...empty.

He couldn't explain that through a door, but his friend, the man he was supposed to be best man to in a few hours waited for an answer. Some kind of confirmation or guidance as to what to do. As if Will actually knew. He didn't. So there really was no answer to it. He reached out and popped the door open to let Jeff in.

His friend looked concerned, as he took a seat on the edge of the bathtub and patted Will's knee. "Want me to kick his ass?" he asked after a moment of silence.

Will looked up at Jeff and shook his head, "What good will it do? It's not going to change anything is it?"

Jeff frowned, as he absorbed it, "You're just going to let him get away with it?"

Will rubbed his temples, he was tired, grimy from the bar and hospital and all he wanted was to crawl into bed and hide away from the world. But he couldn't do that. Jeff needed him. And in his own way, Will needed to see the day through.

"I'll be okay old man." He offered a weak smile, "lets get you to the church on time eh?"

Jeff watched him a moment, "You sure you're up to this dude?"

Will chuckled tiredly, "Isn't that my line?" He nodded towards the window, "Brody has a plane standing by to take you to Tijuana... he felt compelled."

Jeff chuckled half heartedly, "Somehow that wouldn't surprise me." He stood up and patted Will's shoulder, "Jared should be back in a few minutes, get a shower and see how you feel. I'll understand if you can't go through with this..."

Will shook his head, "Jeff, bud, look I said I would stand for you, and come hell or high water I'm gonna do it." He stood up, "guy's come and go, but bro's they're for life."

Jeff winced, "Okay stop, you sound awful imitating Ghetto..."

"I'm da schiznit!" Will declared as he affixed a grin on his face, "Don't be hating..."

Jeff rolled his eyes, "I should never have gone with you to that movie," he groaned, "I'm going to be downstairs, if you need anything just yell."

Will nodded offering an empty smile, "Go, get ready, you're a man today." He paused, "No wait you're wearing a skirt on your wedding day, guess that means Lisa's the man." His eyes still showed the pain he felt, but he put on his game face.

Jeff punched Will's shoulder and left the bathroom, and left Will to his thoughts.

He turned on the shower, warming the water and climbed in, letting the rush of the warm water wash over him. Drenched he rested his forehead against the tiles and tried his best not to think. The less he thought about what had happened to him the better. He had to keep functioning, hold onto that empty feeling and keep putting one foot in front of the other. This was the most important day in Jeff's life, and beside that, Will's issues seemed trivial.

Though part of him wanted to scream, rant and rail against the injustice of it.

What was the point of decrying life? You could scream until you went hoarse, cry yourself dry and still life would remain the same. History wouldn't change for a sound or a droplet of salty water. He needed to be strong, it wasn't about him and he had to keep reminding himself of that fact.

He grabbed the soap and began to wipe away the sweat and grime of the day before, today Jeff was going to profess his undying love for the woman of his dreams. And unlike Rafik and Farah, or even Jared and Kerry, this was the woman he wanted. He was going to take the woman he loved down the aisle and not settle for second best or be dragged against his will. There was something comforting in that thought. What Jeff was doing wasn't for an ulterior motive, it was because he loved Lisa, really loved her. And if Jeff could find and capture the one he loved, then there was hope out there for everyone else.

There had to be hope.

He rinsed his face and blinked up at the frosted window and the sunlight outside, so Andrew wasn't the person he had hoped he was. That simply meant there was someone else out there and he had to stop dwelling on the past.

After he had towelled himself off, he emerged from the bathroom to find Jared waiting for him in the master bedroom, holding up a tuxedo. He had a smile on his face that said Jeff had told him what had happened. But Will knew that Jared dealt with things in his own way. He too was a survivor of heartache, and unlike Jeff who was marrying the woman he loved; he knew all too well what Will felt.

Will slipped the tuxedo out of the wrapping and chuckled when he noted the cummerbund and bow tie were the same tartan pattern as Jeff's kilt. Jared had a good eye for details and no one could deny that he actually cared about things around him, even if he did go through his life with the stigma of being a salesman.

"Hey buddy." Jared said in a simple greeting, "I'm gonna go catch the next shower. Kerry is on her way over and Jeff is downstairs."

Will nodded, "Cheers mate."

"If you want to talk..." Jared said as he hesitated in the doorway.

"Go get ready bud." Will reassured, as he turned and set about putting on his tuxedo.

It was a good fit, comfortable and the correct size; the rental shop still had his measurements and was able to put something appropriate together on little to no notice. Will was impressed by their service, and vowed to use them in the future as he deftly tied his bow tie. He examined himself in the mirror, and adjusted the tie so that it sat correctly. Not quite James Bond, but he still cut a fine figure.

"You look smart." Andrew said standing in the doorway.

Will glanced back at him and shrugged out of the tuxedo jacket, he put it aside not wanting to dirty it before the wedding ceremony. He blew out a sigh and turned to face the man that had violated his trust.

"I don't have time to deal with this now." He repeated softly, "Not now."

Andrew nodded silently, his eyes heavy as he stared at the carpet in front of Will's feet. He opened his mouth, and tried to find something to say. "I...I..."

Will stared at him from the middle of their bedroom, wearing a tuxedo and set to help a friend through the most monumental day of his life. And the man that had singularly destroyed their relationship stood in the door way speechless.

"We have to talk." Will said as he did the only thing he could do, take control of the situation, "But I can't now. After the Wedding."

Andrew nodded, and Will could see how upset the man was, their roles had changed so much over time. Will was the responsible one, the one that had the answers, when had that changed? When had he grown up? Will felt a part of the cold dispassion melt as he crossed to the man he loved and rested his hands lightly on his shoulders

"I'll see you at the wedding, come, have a good time, and we'll talk afterwards." He lifted Andrew's chin so that he could look into the sad eyes, "Don't..." he swallowed as he felt the tears well up inside himself.

Andrew's eyes glistened, his jaw worked, "I...I..."

Will drew him into an embrace, just to hold on for a few moments, a few last moments. But it was already too late. He could feel what they had slipping away from him.

He stepped back and offered a half smile. "Get ready to go, as I said we'll sort this fucking mess out later."

Andrew nodded on automatic as he walked from their room. And Will let his head sink, he was the strong one, out of all of his friends, he was the survivor and he knew that. He had lost Andrew once before and survived, but could he go through it again. He had been through that pain before, and he knew that the only thing for him to do was be strong. Because if he wasn't strong who else would be?

Will walked downstairs, his jacket carefully draped over his arm as he entered the kitchen for yet another mug of Mrs. Sternosti's coffee. Jeff and his father were at the table, Jeff receiving that age old final piece of advice of a father to son. He spared a glance at Will as he returned his full attention to his father.

Mrs. Sternosti fussed over Will's collar the moment she saw him dressed. The problem with being the first ready was that he was the one that would be fussed over the longest by a mother who was giving up the first of her children. Will tolerated her fussing as he reached for his cell phone and gave Brody a call.

The phone rang five times before a female voice answered it, "Brody's phone."

"Porchea?" Will asked in shock.

Jeff spat coffee across the table, as he choked recognizing the strippers name. His eyes bulged as he desperately tried to regain his composure.

"Yes?" She responded, "Brody is in the shower right now, he should be done in a few minutes I can have him call you when he gets done."

Will nodded, "Uh...yeah, tell him we're waiting on him and that he should come as soon as he can."

He clicked off the phone and stared over at Jeff, who returned the stare. Both their minds tried to work out the chain of events that could possibly have led to Porchea answering Brody's phone that morning.

"Who's Porchea?" Mrs. Sternosti asked as she mopped up the mess Jeff had created.

"No one mom." Jeff replied automatically, he stared at Will, "If he brings her, I'm gonna kill him."

Will extended his hands in a claming manner, "Relax, it will be okay. Jared's out of the shower, you should go and get ready..."

"'sup guys?" Jared asked as he came down the stairs and noted the tension.

"Porchea." Jeff exclaimed as he stalked up the stairs.

"Huh?" Jared inquired as he fumbled with the bow tie and finally abandoned the attempt.

"Brody picked up Porchea." Will walked over and tied the tie in a single fluid motion, stepping back to admire his handy work.

"The Stri..." Jared stopped when he noted Mrs. Sternosti's proximity, "Oh."

Will nodded, "Yeah, that's what I said..."

His phone rang and he clicked it on, "Go."

"William Carter," Scott Weippert's voice was unexpected, and Will's brow furrowed, "I'm staring at an empty office Mister Carter."

Will was confused, "Sir? I booked today off." He glanced back at the clock on the microwave, it read Nine oh two, "I have a wedding to go to."

"I wasn't informed," Scott's tone adopted a stern edge, "I can't give you a day off on no notice."

Will blew out a sigh, "Scott, I am best man at this wedding and it starts in under an hour. Ken can cover for me, but if you check my appointment book you will see I am cleared for today."

"I don't care about that," Scott responded, "I need you here today..."

Will rolled his eyes, "I booked this day off, you signed off on it. I have two weeks vacation that I haven't touched yet. I will be in tomorrow, it can wait until I arrive."

"This doesn't reflect well on your commitment to this company," Scott pressed.

Will lifted the phone away from his ear and stared at it in disgust, putting it back to his hear, "Mister Weippert I will discuss this with you tomorrow, as it stands this is my day off and I have other commitments, Good day." He clicked off and pocketed the phone.

Jared looked at him in confusion, "What now?"

"Work." Will replied, "My boss wondering where I was."

"Oh," Jared said after a moment, "You gonna get fired?"

Will opened his mouth to answer and swore when his phone rang again. He flicked it open, "Yes?"

"Hey Willy," Brody's cheerful voice, "Just got out of the shower and I'm on my way over now. Tell Jared not to worry, he's Jeep is fine, it's only a little dent in the side door..."

"Porchea?" Will asked ignoring Brody's attempt at humour over the Jeep.

"What about her? Just about to drop her off at her apartment. I promised her a ride home after work last night." He chuckled, "She needed comforting after you broke her heart."

"Ah." Will said as Jeff came down the stairs wearing the Kilted tuxedo, he suppressed a laugh, "Well get here as quick as you can...you have got to see this..."

Chapter Nineteen

When Brody finally pulled up in Jared's Cherokee and laid on the horn, the friends were finally ready to go. Will had leant the keys of his Jeep to Andrew, and Jeff's parents were going to follow behind the Jeep in their rented minivan. A motorcade to the church, which wasn't that far away. There was just so much preparation behind such a simple event that Will was glad he didn't have to go through it again for awhile, unless Kerry got it into her head to drag Jared down the aisle.

She was to come with Andrew in the Jeep, thankfully Will was to be spared the pleasure of her company on the ride to the church. He got into the front passenger seat and turned around to face Jeff who sat in the back next to Jared.

"Just say the word and we turn this car towards Pearson airport." He grinned, "Tijuana..."

Jeff chuckled, "Just get me to the damn church."

"Now now," Brody warned from the drivers seat as he started the motor up, "you're about to make a covenant with god, there will be no more blasphemy on this ride."

"You're a fine one to talk," Will replied rolling down his window and leaning his arm on the door frame, "The stripper?"

"Hey," Brody said with a smile, "Some one had to take care of the girl. You know you are a cold hearted man Carter." He pulled the Jeep out into the street and turned it towards the church.

"I bet you showed her how warm yours was." Jared said from the back.

"Some one had to tap that fine ass." Brody said as he accelerated.

Will winced at the crass thought and put on his pair of blue tinted sunglasses enjoying the warm weather as they wound their way through Ottawa congestion. Amidst so many changes one thing remained constant, Brody would never change who he was and that was one small blessing. At least one of them could still carry on like a seventeen year old.

"He's got a point," Jared said leaning forward.

"Shut up," Jeff remarked, "Or I tell Kerry about Mercedes."

Jared chuckled, "You do buddy and she will spill everything to Lisa in like two minutes flat. You'd be just as screwed."

"He's got you there." Will said watching as they sped past an Acura.

That was it, their last journey together all as single men. Rafik would already be at the church with his adoring wife Farah. Soon Lisa would have title deed over Jeff's soul and Kerry would lay claim to Jared's not long after that. Only Brody seemed truly safe, untouchable in that way of his. The only really free spirit among them.

Will shook his head, typical Brody though. The man didn't need anything more than his own allotment of life. He was the one who was truly content to be the rogue scholar, constantly seeking the next thrill in life. Out of them all he was the one who truly lived life. Or did he?

In the rush to idolize Brody's freedom Will had overlooked one key fact. And that was simply that Brody was out to make the right choice. It wasn't a question of time with him, but rather a question of being absolutely sure. No question at all really, he wanted someone who would challenge him. His life after all was about each moment, and not about settling.

That or a vivacious eighteen year old.

Will chuckled at that thought, as the Jeep pulled into the Church parking lot. He turned back to Jeff again.

"Last call for Tijuana..."

"Would you stop it with all the Tijuana jokes?" Jeff said frustrated, "I'm going to do this."

Will and Brody exchanged knowing looks as they all got out of the car. It was a big day for all of them.

"You okay? Feeling all right?" It was the first time Will had ever asked Jeff that.

They were in the back of the church and Jeff was ready to take his place at the altar, but the guys had taken one last chance to wish him luck.

"Yeah," Jeff said as he adjusted Will's tie. "I'm fine. Tired, but I'm fine. Thanks for coming back here, though. I was starting to freak out by myself."

He held out his hand for all of them to see it tremble. Will had never seen him shake before. Jeff was like that, generally unaffected by things. But now he ... looked good in the Kilt, despite the fact he seemed nervous. Jeff was actually nervous about it and who could blame him really. The day was a monumental step in his life, a pivotal moment in not just his relationship, but culturally as well.

"Where's the priest?" Jared asked.

"Checking the details. Making sure everything's ready."

"Making sure Lisa shows?" Brody asked and managed to sound innocent.

Jared and Jeff both smacked him at the same time.

"Shut up!"


"What? I was joking!" Brody exclaimed.

"Sh!" Rafik scolded from the back pew as some of the people in the church glanced back at them.

"Mrs. Sternosti's looking," Will told them. "Guess we'd better stop mucking about, huh?"

Jared smiled innocently at her.

Jeff chuckled and glanced up at his mother. "That was fun last night. Thanks, you guys."

"Yeah, too bad we can't do it again," Brody said.

"Why? I mean it's not like--." He stopped as it dawned on him. "Oh. Yeah. You're right. But hey, we did it, right? And we'll do something for Jared's bachelor party too."

"I'm not getting married," Jared protested.

"Not something boring," Brody responded.

"Not something...," Rafik began. "I can't think of anything." He glanced back to make sure Farah, who was over talking to one of Lisa's relatives didn't hear.

"Will?" Jeff asked.

"Something memorable," Will replied to him. "That's what's important."

Will's cell phone rang and he rolled his eyes. There was always something, he took it out and slipped back into an alcove. "This had better be important." He whispered softly, as he hoped there wasn't some taboo about using a cell phone in a church.

"Will?" Lisa sounded upset, and he felt his heart dip. Not now...not when they were so close...not now...

"Lisa," he said his voice dropped even lower, this time to ensure Jeff didn't hear him, "Don't you dare tell me you're not coming..."

There was a hesitation on the line and Will's stomach clenched. "I'm just not sure about this..." she said timidly.

"Where are you?" he demanded.

"In the limo, we're circling the block, Daddy told the driver to go around again." She sounded so small.

Will stepped out of the alcove and motioned to Brody who jogged over to join him. "What's up?" Brody whispered.

Will covered the mouth piece, "Lisa, she's having cold feet. Come on I need your help."

The two slipped out of the church and walked down to the street, Will glanced up the road, "Tell your dad to pull over and let us in." He ordered, he had to be resolute. After everything they had been through he wasn't about to let it all fall apart because Lisa had cold feet. And as the Limo pulled up beside them they climbed inside.

Will refrained from thinking about the fact that it was his first time in a limousine, and focused on Lisa who looked radiant. The wedding dress was stunning, white silk and lace, a beautiful Celtic style accented with simple white lilies. It set off her auburn hair and gave her a classic Irish fairy tale look. Will couldn't help but stare at her for a moment.

"So you're not going through with it?" Brody asked her bluntly.

"I'm just not sure..." She said forlornly, as she glanced out of the window of the car as they pulled away from the church.

"This mean your single?" he asked hopefully, "Cause in that dress..."

"Shut up Brody." Will snapped, "You're supposed to be helping."

He grinned, "Can't help it, look at her!"

Will ignored Brody as he reached out to take her hand gently, "Look, I don't know very much, but I do know that you're in love with him or else you would never have set this wedding date. And I know he loves you because he wouldn't shut up about it all week. What aren't you sure of?"

She squeezed his hand, "I'm scared Will, what if this doesn't work out, what if he changes, what if I change..."

Will patted her hand, and smiled at her carefully, "So what? People change, we have all changed since we first met. But one thing seems to have been constant and that's you and Jeff. You two have been an inspiration for the rest of us. You've shown us that no matter what, love grows and changes right along with you." He stared into her eyes, "And there are a lot worse guys out there."

"Like me." Brody said as he looked out of the window to check out a girl on roller blades that skated up the street.

"Yeah we know you're a pig." Will responded.

"Don't hate me `cause I know how to play the game." Brody replied.

Will grinned at Lisa, "You're going down that aisle missy, cause you know who's going to have to sit and listen to Jeff whine and cry if you don't..." He sat back into the plush leather seat, "And I know you would too."

She nodded quietly, demurely...for the first time in as long as will had known her. Lisa was demure. He marvelled at it. She was the strongest woman he knew, forceful and opinionated on absolutely everything. And where as Farah was just a bitch, Lisa simply wasn't. She was herself.

He tapped on the glass divider that separated the driver and Lisa's father from the rear of the limo. The glass partition rolled down.

"Take us to the church." Will requested with a smile.

He breathed a little easier as the limo pulled up at the doors of the church, and both he and Brody spilled out. Lisa took a moment to compose herself as her father took her arm. The three bridesmaids were waiting and giggled at Will as he sprinted past them.

Brody paused, "Hello ladies..."

Will hesitated long enough to grab Brody's arm and pull him bodily into the church, as they made their way down to the front. Jeff stared at them a moment as Brody slid into a pew and Will climbed the last few steps breathlessly.

"She's here..." he said as he caught his breath, "And Jeff...she's beautiful."

Jeff opened his mouth to ask where Will had vanished to, but the music started up as the great rear doors of the church opened and the first bridesmaid made her way down the aisle. For all the headaches and frustrations, for all the long hours and the sleepless nights. It all came down to that moment. And Will swallowed, as he suddenly found that he was nervous as well.

The music changed tone, and all of a sudden the wedding march began. There was a hush over the crowded church as all heads turned.

Lisa was a vision of beauty in that moment; she glided down the aisle on her fathers arm proudly. All traces of the insecurities that had riddled her in the Limousine had vanished; she was once again the stable and together woman that she always was. There was no comparison to how she looked in that moment as she and her father climbed those last few steps and she joined her husband to be at the altar.

"Dearly beloved," The minister intoned, as he met them. Jeff and Lisa exchanged a nervous look between them. "We are gathered here in the sight of God to witness the union of Jeff Giorgio Sternosti and Lisa Samantha Highbury in holy matrimony."

Will stared at both of them, glancing past them and up at the stained glass window where the sun streamed down on them. It was simply a beautiful day.

Chapter Twenty

Laurier House was filled with the wedding guests. It was beautifully decorated in white fabrics and roses; a string quartet performed a beautiful selection of pieces at one end and a large buffet on trestle tables stood at the other. Voices and music coming from beyond the open French doors told of the other guests, and the other entertainment that was taking place on the patio terraces that lay nestled in the gardens. Guests mingled with each other throughout the old house and Will adjusted his bow tie standing on the upper landing and looking down at them all.

There was a clinking of knives on glasses as everyone stopped to look up at him.

"Speech!" a voice yelled from the back of the hall, a distinctly Brody-esque voice.

Will smiled and blushed a moment before he began.

"Well I must say that I am very nervous about making this speech. In fact this is the fifth time today that I have got off a warm seat with pieces of paper in my hand."

"They say that being asked to be best man is very much like being asked to make love to the Queen Mother... a great honour, but no one really wants to do it."

"Joking aside, I would like to thank you Jeff for asking me to be the best man today, it really is an honour to be asked and a pleasure to fulfil the role. I'd like to thank both you and Lisa as well for the lovely present." He held up and rattled the still wrapped gift.

"I'd also like to thank Jeff and Lisa on behalf of the bridesmaids for their kind words and gifts. Candice, Veronique and Vicki do indeed look wonderful and I'm sure you'll all agree they performed their role splendidly." He waited for the applause to die down before he continued.

"It is traditional for best men to use their speech to talk of how and when they met the groom...well, it happened when I was introduced to a scruffy artist that was too tall, with hair was too long all in all I thought, hey what a poser. I guess he felt the same way about me because after only five minutes we became friends. That friendship came in handy during the time we shared another confined space years later, when Jeff allowed me to stay in his bachelor apartment while I was looking for my own place in Ottawa. The apartment was so small, Jeff found that he could cook, wash up, shave, shower, iron, answer the phone and use the toilet without even having to leave his bed."

"Although he has different parents, I still regard Jeff as my big brother, both in terms of age (albeit by a few months) and in terms of waist measurement. Marriage is a serious matter, which, shouldn't be entered into lightly, and at close to 190 pounds, Jeff certainly isn't doing that. Really, I should take this opportunity to reveal to all, Jeff's past misdemeanours, unfortunately I have played a part in most of the incriminating events, as former roommates we've always been co-conspirators and joint culprits. By disclosing everything Jeff has done, I would be implicating myself and I really don't want to tarnish my impeccable reputation. Speaking generally though, what I will say is that during our time at university when both of us were in Halifax, (there were times in the Waterfront Bar) I was not so much a brother but more of a mother to him:"

"I watched him drink from a bottle, I watched him stagger around naked, I watched him crawl, and I've dressed and undressed him. Cleaned up after him, and several times helped him to walk."

"Instead I'll talk of Jeff's achievements...so you needn't worry, its not going to be a long speech! During his time at art school Jeff achieved one important thing. Now Jeff can claim to have achieved an arm full of art awards, but the fact is he only perfected one technique in school. This involved Jeff making a poached egg and a cup of tea. Incidentally, that today remains the full extent of his culinary skills."

"But his greatest achievement has to be marrying Lisa today. Jeff, you are a very lucky groom, you've married someone who's smart and beautiful, kind-hearted, loving and caring and she deserves a good husband. So good job you married her before she found one!"

"Someone once said that marriage is a 50/50 partnership. I hope you realize that anyone who believes that, knows very little about women...or fractions!"

"But in fact Jeff and Lisa do seem to have a very caring/ sharing relationship. They compliment each other well in life's daily chores... Lisa cooks/ Jeff eats. Jeff drinks/ Lisa drives. Jeff makes a mess/ Lisa clears it up... what a great team."

"As best man my other duty today was looking after the wedding rings... I was a little concerned earlier about handing the ring over for Lisa, for fear of her ever taking it off and putting it in her jewellery box, which I know has, on at least one occasion, after a particularly heavy night out, served as a useful container for Jeff to vomit in."

"My advice to Jeff is that the key to a happy marriage is to remember to use those three little words... 'You're right dear'."

"Seriously though Jeff, your whole family is very proud of you, you have met and married someone very special and I think that you and Lisa make a perfect couple. On a personal note, Lisa has been a great friend to me over the last four and a half years. As for Jeff, well it's impossible to summarize the god knows how many years I've known him in a five-minute speech. What I would like to say is that over the years he has been the best anyone could hope for in the most supportive of friends. I'd like to offer them both the traditional Best man's wish of Good Luck Good Health, and Much Happiness."

"I'd also like to wish them both a fantastic honeymoon which I am told is the time between `I DO' and `YOU'D BETTER'."

"Finally on behalf of the bride and groom I'd like to thank you all for sharing their day and though its been said before, I invite you all to stand once more and raise your glasses in a toast to Jeff and Lisa, may they have a long happy and fruitful marriage...Jeff and Lisa."

There were cheers around the room as the glasses raised to the pair. And Will smiled down at them. They were going to have a great life together.

It was much later when Will found himself back on the stairs to make other announcements. It seemed as though he hadn't stopped in the hours since the speech. He cleared his throat, "The bride and groom will join you shortly," he said in a clear tone as the music dropped expectantly, "They are just..." he smiled and glanced back to the bedroom doors, "...Changing."

There was a ripple of knowing laughter from the crowd, Will just grinned, "At this time I would like to draw your attention to the buffet and ask that you continue to enjoy their hospitality The honeymoon precession and the throwing of the bouquet will take place as soon as they are done ..." He glanced back again, "Uh...changing."

The murmur of conversation picked up once more, and the quartet began to play an old love song, as Will walked down the stairs and rejoined the guests. He caught sight of Jared drifting through the crowd with Kerry, and he couldn't help but blink at her in the light summer dress, she looked beautiful. Some of the guests looked at the young teacher with wide eyes, others with appreciative looks of suddenly realizing there was a beautiful woman in their midst The latter came from men more often than women, and some of the women had to remind their husbands they were married.

Others started towards him, now that he had come down, and he found himself engaged in several different conversations on a variety of topics, all of which flowed around work in some fashion. He kept moving to avoid being caught in too many long conversations. There were many guests; all filling the various rooms, admiring artwork, or listening to entertainers, and all desired a moment of the best man's time. Guests included the mayor of the small town Jeff had grown up in. Professor Bryce and his lovely wife doctor Lillian Bryce two of Lisa's university professors that had made the trip from Toronto just to attend the wedding of their favourite star pupil. There was also a c list celebrity that Lisa had represented in a contract dispute, according to the local papers she was the greatest singing sensation to come out of Canada that year. It was a mixture of Poets, artisans, lawyers and financiers standing side by side conversing about the issues that faced Ottawa. And there by the far stairs was Brody, a wide grin on his face as he chatted aimlessly with one of the bridesmaids. Yet still no sign of the man he needed to talk with.

He could not see from his vantage point whether Andrew was present, but he could clearly see Lisa's father, negotiating his way towards the singing star, perhaps in an effort to get her to perform something that evening. The string quartet performing in the far corner would pale in comparison with her talent, but it would be something special on the wedding day, something to never forget.

Will stopped when he noticed that Lisa's boss; Robert Avery had fallen into step beside him. A waiter immediately offered his silver tray with a bow. Avery took a brown glass filled with wine. Walking backwards ahead of them still bowing, the servant held the tray toward Will until he shook his head, and then he melted into the crowd.

"This is a fine party. Lisa has many friends, and excellent entertainment." He said pleasantly.

Will nodded in response to the compliment. "It's taken quite a bit of preparation. We were lucky to get this hall on such short notice."

"Many friends," Mr. Avery repeated a little too quietly, "but then Lisa is the best Publicist we have."

"Of course Mister Avery," Will replied as they passed a group of women admiring an elegantly carved Ice sculpture that had been crafted by one of Jeff's art school friends. "How's business?"

Avery looked down at the young man "Excellent, Lisa has told me a lot about you, I wanted to take the time to meet you."

Will's brow furrowed, "I beg your pardon Mister Avery?" He was suddenly uncertain, had he just been hit on by Lisa's boss? If so how could he extricate himself from the situation with out seeming rude?

"You are a Human Resource Manager are you not?" Avery asked after a moments pause, "A call centre if I remember correctly. How is business going?"

"Business seems to be going well," Will replied as he regretted not accepting the wine when it had been offered. "We're going through a round of layoffs at the moment, the operations manager seems to feel that downsizing is the answer to cutting costs."

Avery stared into his wine, mulling over his words as if they held some hidden meaning. "Are you saying you don't approve of the layoffs? That you do not support your managers decision?"

"I don't recall saying anything of the kind." Will replied his unease over the conversation continued to climb.

"Yes of course," Avery replied. "You must be frustrated that your own view points are not being listened to."

Will took a deep breath to stop from telling the man angrily that he was not inferring anything by his comment. "I see that your star client is here, things must be going well for you."

"My firm represents a number of clients. I don't pay them much mind." The contempt in his voice seemed almost genuine, save for the fact that Avery was widely known to pander to his clients every whim. "You have an arts degree do you not? What made you go into business and not say, become a teacher?"

"I believe in the old saying `those that can't, teach.'." Will replied and grimaced, thinking inwardly that the conversation was sounding more and more like an interrogation on a witness stand.

Avery was studying his face almost openly, "Have you ever considered other employment opportunities?"

"I always try to keep my options open," Will replied automatically, Avery wasn't being subtle, he wanted something and Will was began to suspect this was an informal interview.

"That's good, a young man with your level of experience should keep his options open. There are always opportunities for someone with a good head for management. "

"I'm aware of my opportunities." Will replied coldly, he could detect the thinly veiled edge of anger in his voice. He hated games, and he despised it when he was the one getting played, "I prefer, however, to know what I am getting into before I commit myself to anything."

"Interesting. We must talk again at a later time, as it is I have learned a little from your conversation. I believe we may have some common ground when we talk again." He nodded as he raised his glass in a small salute, and then turned to speak to a grey haired man who wore a union pip on his lapel.

Will shook his head as he walked on, away from more conversation. It was clear that Avery was up to something, and Will vowed to discuss the matter with Lisa the moment she was free. He didn't like to have his future decided for him. And the way Avery spoke there was definitely an ulterior motive to a seemingly idle conversation.

He found himself out on one of the terraces under the brilliant moonlight of the lazy summer night. Even though the party wound down, the cake had been cut, dinner served and the speeches given, there was still a sense of celebration going on around him, he had enjoyed the reception but it was time he returned to the hunt for Andrew.

He stopped when he saw them, they were on a lower tier of the terraces, talking to a group of Lisa's cousins. Andrew had borrowed one of Will's suits and looked handsome in it. It was rare to see him dressed up, but when he did it made Will take pause. The combination of the light tan suit and Andrew's slightly ruffled blonde hair and striking blue eyes as he laughed to some joke. Will froze there as he stared down at Maria in a devastating red dress, she hung off of his arm. The temptress entwined her arms around her prize.

"Dude," Brody said as he pulled up short beside Will, the bridesmaid he had been chatting to a moment or two before held onto his hand lightly. "Isn't that your boy down there?"

Will turned his head slightly to look over his sunglasses at Brody, "not any more old man." He replied faintly.

Brody took a second glance and turned to the bridesmaid, "Can you give us a minute?"

She smiled at him sweetly and kissed him lightly on the cheek before she slipped out of his hand and back inside to the main party.

Brody cocked his head, as he watched her go, "Damn!" he said and smiled, "You know what I love about weddings? All the lace..."

Will arched an eyebrow at Brody, "Do I even want to know?"

Brody waved a hand to dismiss the question, "Never mind..." he pointed down to Andrew, "What's up with that?"

Will shook his head, "That is what I've been asking myself for days. Seems she has taken a liking to him."

Brody chewed on the observation a moment, "Girls a player is she?"

Will shook his head, "No, she knows Andrew's gay, she wouldn't..."

Maria's eyes flicked up to the two men on the upper terrace and her eyes sparkled, as she drew her self closer to Andrew possessively.

"Dude," Brody said, "Girl knows. She wants something she's not supposed to have."

Will turned his back on them and rested on the stone wall that separated the terrace from the sloped gardens, "She's too young."

"You can't fake innocent and wear a dress like that." Brody snorted, "Girl's playing him and you're just collateral damage, all so she can get a bit of attention." He grinned, "Want me to deal with it?"

Will shook his head, "Let her have him. I'm going back to the party."

Brody followed him inside, "Hell no," he said eagerly, "one rule, don't rub another mans rhubarb."

Will looked at his friend, "What are you going to do?" he asked after a moment.

"Carter you should know better than to ask that, just sit at that table over there and look pretty." Brody pointed to a table just across the dance floor.