Pretend(4)

By: Riley Hart


When the service began, Mason turned his attention away from the man beside him as Wes and Braden read the vows they’d written, promising to spend their lives together.

At the end of the ceremony, Braden grabbed Wes’s face between his hands and kissed the hell out of him before everyone pushed to their feet, clapping. Mason remembered half-heartedly flirting with Braden when they’d met, but seeing him up there now, it didn’t even feel like he was looking at the same man.

Mason turned toward Gavin to finish the conversation they’d started, but Gavin seemed lost in the couple in front of them. He had a far-off look in his eyes and a lonely smile on his face. It was enough to make Mason hold back. Hell, probably even pull off completely. Gavin was dealing with some shit; what, Mason didn’t know, but he had enough of his own crap right now to not want to get involved with anyone else’s.

***

Gavin sat around the bonfire with Braden, Wes, Mason and two other men he’d been introduced to tonight named Noah and Cooper. It was late. He didn’t know how late, but the other wedding guests had left hours before.

Wes’s sister brought Jessie home with her. Since Braden and Wes weren’t going on their honeymoon until later in the summer, they decided to all sit around drinking tonight instead.

“I about shit my pants when Braden admitted that Wes went home with him that first night. And look at them now,” Cooper said and everyone laughed.

It surprised Gavin. “You guys didn’t know? Don’t tell me you went into the closet?” He knew that was bullshit. Braden never worried what anyone thought, never had. In school, Gavin hadn’t been the most popular. Braden never cared, and he’d made it easier for Gavin not to worry about things, either. Gavin couldn’t help but be curious as to why Braden being with a man was such a huge surprise for Cooper.

“Hell no.” Braden reached over and shoved him, almost making Gavin’s chair topple over. Mason, who sat beside him, reached over to steady Gavin. “Just because I don’t go around announcing my business doesn’t mean I hide. Plus, Coop was so damn busy being shocked at his own sexuality that he latched onto mine rather than dealing with his own shit.”

Cooper, Noah, Wes and Braden all laughed, apparently in on a joke that he and Mason weren’t a part of.

Braden looked his way. “Cooper had never been with a man before Noah. It wasn’t that he was in the closet, he just—”

“Was waiting for me, only he didn’t know it,” Noah said. Cooper shook his head, but then leaned over and kissed Noah. Gavin took a drink of his beer.

He’d known he was gay since he was a kid. There had never been a time he didn’t know it. Even when he pretended otherwise. “No way.”

Mason chuckled, but Cooper was quick to defend himself. “It’s not bullshit. It wasn’t that I spent my life denying who I was. I’d never even looked at a guy before Noah. I never could have fallen in love with a woman though, either. He cast some kind of voodoo shit on me or something. Couldn’t live without me, so he made it so I’m the same way about him.”

Everyone laughed, Gavin and Mason included. He liked Braden’s friends and could see why he enjoyed spending time with them. They were good men.

“Alright.” Braden pushed to his feet. “Hate to break up the party, but I’m drunk and it’s my wedding night. If I’m going to spend time with my husband before I pass out, it has to be now.” He winked at Wes.

“Yeah, what the hell is up with that? You’re spending your wedding night drunk in our spare room.” Noah wrapped an arm around Wes’s shoulder.

“There’s a bed, right? That’s all they need,” Mason added.

“Truer words have never been spoken,” Wes said.

Noah looked at Cooper. “Let’s go.” He nodded toward the house, and Cooper was on his feet as well. “Sorry it’s the couches for you guys, but we put blankets and pillows out for you.”

They’d spent the whole night drinking, and all of them where too hammered to drive.

“You guys coming in, or can you get the fire for us?” Noah asked.

Even though tiredness weighed down his muscles, Gavin didn’t think he could sleep yet. He had too much on his mind with Braden, his family and figuring out what the hell he was going to do in Blackcreek. He glanced Mason’s way. Mason nodded as though he knew what Gavin was asking. “I’ll put the fire out before we go in.”

“Thanks, man,” Noah nodded at him.

Braden put a hand on Gavin’s shoulder and squeezed. They’d been through a lot together, the two of them. He was glad to have his friend back in his life.