Best Men, part 9 (and final)

Wednesday, December 31

We spent three nights at my dad’s and got home Sunday at noon, ready to sleep in our own bed again. We spent Monday unpacking and getting the house in order. Tuesday was Aaron and Paul’s rehearsal; Pete picked up his tux on the way to Pasadena.

Aaron and Paul’s wedding day was cool but clear. The ceremony was at noon but Aaron had asked Pete to be there by 11:30. When we got there Pete disappeared into the guest room, where he and Aaron would get ready.

I stuck my head into the master bedroom to check on Paul, who was fussing with his cummerbund with the help of his best woman, his business partner Adrienne. He yanked the thing off, swearing, just as I walked in. I said, “See? This is why I’m getting married in cargo pants.”

Paul rolled his eyes. “Either help me with this thing or fuck off.”

Adrienne shook her head. “Miss Priss is in a foul mood. I apologize for him.”

I said, “Paul, you’re supposed to be in a good mood on your wedding day. And I’ve never worn a tux so I can’t help you.”

Paul paused his attack on the poor cummerbund. “You’ve never worn a tux?”

“Nope. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?”

That made him laugh. “It certainly does. Has Pete’s dad’s house sold yet?”

“Not yet. But that’s because it’s the holidays, according to Lisa.”

“Well, she should know.” Paul sighed as Adrienne finally got the cummerbund in place. “Thank God. Have the flowers come yet?”

Adrienne said, “How would I know? I’ve been trapped in here with you.”

“Well, go see.” Paul made shooing motions at the door.

Adrienne grinned as she passed me. “Bossy bitch.”

Paul yelled after her, “I’ll show you bitch!”

I said, “Certainly seems like you’ve got things under control. I’m going to mingle.”

“I don’t suppose I could convince you to bring me a bottle of champagne, could I?”

“Nope. Aaron would kill me.”

Paul sighed and fluttered his fingers at me. “Okay, fine. Go mingle. I’ll see you after.”

I went downstairs and exited into the back yard, where a small platform was set up in front of a few rows of white chairs. There were only about thirty guests at the wedding. Several were from Aaron and Pete’s department: Verlene Canaday, the department chair, and her husband; Elliott Conklin, the assistant chair, and a date whom I hadn’t met; Elaine Pareja, whom I barely knew; and a couple of other SMC people whom I didn’t know at all. Paul’s side was represented by a couple of elderly aunts and a tight knot of friends, sleekly groomed gay men who eyed me with a mix of curiosity and thinly veiled interest. I was wearing my newest suit, which Pete had said made me look hot.

Maybe it did.

I sat down beside Elliott, who introduced me to his new boyfriend, Stewart – a more age-appropriate choice than his old boyfriend Matt Bendel, I was glad to see. I hadn’t seen Elliott since Matt’s murderer had been shot and killed by Kevin. I was happy to see that he looked well.

Stewart shook my hand. “How do you know Aaron and Paul?”

“Aaron’s best man is my fiance.”

Elliott said, “I’ve told you about Pete Ferguson, right? Teaches abnormal psych? He and Jamie have been engaged – how long now?”

I said, “Six weeks. But the wedding’s not for several months.”

Stewart smiled at me. “Congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

A murmur arose from behind us, and we turned. Pete was escorting Adrienne down the aisle formed between the rows of seats. He looked fabulous in his tux, and I had a momentary pang that he wouldn’t be wearing one at our wedding – but it passed quickly. Adrienne had changed from the little black dress she’d been wearing to a knee-length brilliant blue gown that molded to her figure. She was stunning. Too bad there were so few single straight guys here.

Adrienne and Pete parted and went to their respective sides of the platform. Pete caught my eye and winked at me; I grinned back. Then Aaron and Paul came down the aisle, holding hands.

The white tuxes suited both of them. They were wearing boutonnieres of a white lily-like flower, and they were both grinning like idiots.

I figured I’d be no different on our wedding day.

The service was short. The officiant was a lawyer friend of Paul’s, and he said the basic words without too many embellishments. Aaron and Paul exchanged rings, and they were married.

I thought I might like to have some more meaningful words said at our wedding – although I didn’t know what those words might be yet.

Aaron and Paul came back down the aisle, followed by Adrienne and Pete, then the faux minister invited us all into the house for the reception. I went in and looked for Pete, noted his location, then turned toward the buffet table. It was loaded with lots of yummy finger foods, none of which were particularly heart-healthy. I didn’t much care.

When I got to Pete’s corner, he was talking to Adrienne and a friend of Paul’s who turned out to be a real estate agent. Pete eyed my plate with interest. “Want to share?”

I handed him my plate. “No, you take this one. I’ll get another.”

I was stopped on the way back to the buffet line by Aaron and Paul, who thanked me for coming, then whirled away to meet other guests. I filled another plate and went to stand beside Pete, eating and watching the crowd. Aaron and Paul seemed to be having the time of their lives.

I hoped we could duplicate that at our wedding.

 

It was early enough when we left that Pete was able to return his tux before the rental place closed, erasing the need for another trip to Pasadena. We went home and spent some time in the kitchen; Ali and Mel were having their annual New Year’s Day party and Pete was providing a couple of dishes.

After going for a long run, eating dinner, and cleaning up the kitchen and ourselves, we were ready to call it an evening. I

By Susanne Nilsson (Flickr: Nyår 2012/2013) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Susanne Nilsson (Flickr: Nyår 2012/2013) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

laid a fire in our fireplace while Pete inflated the trusty air mattress one more time and made a nest. We opened a bottle of champagne, got naked and crawled under the covers. Pete said, “Think we’ll make it to midnight?”

“I doubt it.” I snuggled tighter against him. “This is when I originally thought you’d propose to me.”

“This is when I’d originally planned to.” Pete wrapped his arms around me. “But then Dad had his attack and I decided not to wait.”

“Paul was nervous as a cat before the wedding. Even after all those years of living together.”

“Aaron was too.” Pete began winding strands of my hair around his fingers, making short curls. “Will you be nervous?”

“Probably. Even though I’m not sure why.”

“It’s a big step. Or so everyone says.”

“Mm hm.” I took a sip of champagne. Outside, I could hear some of the neighbors violating Santa Monica regulations by setting off fireworks. “We could have gone to the fireworks display.”

“Did you want to?”

“No. I’m right where I want to be.”

“Me too.” Pete quit fiddling with my hair and tucked his head under my chin. “We’ve had an eventful year, and we have another eventful year ahead of us.”

I sighed. “All I want is a year without a murder.”

Pete chuckled. “Yeah, I’d prefer that.” He raised up on his elbow and poured more champagne, then held his glass up for a toast. “To best men.”

I clinked glasses with him. “To Dad and Steve.”

“Mm hm.”

We drank, and Pete held up his glass again. “And to you. ‘Cause you’re the best man for me.”

Aw. “And to you, Pete Ferguson, the best man for me.”

He grinned, that wide, beautiful grin that I loved so much. “I’ll drink to that.”

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4 Comments

Filed under Short Stories

4 responses to “Best Men, part 9 (and final)

  1. Sharon Cox

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this. Thank-you very much for writing.

  2. This really was a cute story; it was just enough to lead up to the “new year”. Can’t wait for more of them.

  3. Thanks, Abby! The next book will be out in about six weeks.

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