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Author’s note: Thank you for your kindness and comments on the previous chapter!
BlowPopJ – amazing moms are amazing, indeed!
1moeannie – I’m so happy you liked it, especially since I know you’re a tough audience!
curiousaudrey – yes, the well-deserved happy end is right here! And Jared might have had the more difficult path of all of them in a way since his heart really got broken. But Shane surely took care of that! Thank you for your comment!
“So, you’re the only one not marrying into billions.”
Jared turned quickly to face his husband. “Where is that coming from?”
Shane gave him a crooked grin. “My folks are all in stunned silence. Adrian surely meant it when he said his mother-in-law has some pretty strange ideas about what it means to have a low-key affair.”
Jared pulled him into a hug and a kiss. “I’m looking right at your folks, and sure thing, they moved on from their stunned silence. I’m glad to see them enjoying themselves. Even the twins seem to be having fun.”
“Ah, they’re quick to find their way around. Although pop’s loose tongue might be because of the whiskey your father keeps pouring.”
“They look like they hit it off well. Our mothers, too. Now, tell me what was that about my not marrying into billions, hmm?”
“Well,” Shane caressed his shoulders and then dropped his hands to Jared’s waist, “I can’t help but see that both Edward and Ryan are from some pretty damned rich families.”
“Yeah, they are, and how is that relevant in any way?”
Shane cocked his head. “Maybe you could marry a rich dude, too.”
Jared smiled and got close enough to have their noses rub together. “Oh, are you feeling competitive?”
“More like unfit.” Shane liked to joke a lot, but it was a husband’s duty to make sure his partner didn’t have any such doubts.
“Darling, babe, husband,” Jared said slowly, “I frankly think you’re the most fit of everyone present tonight. I mean, you have legs so long that I wonder how the bed doesn’t seem too short, and such nice muscles.” To make a point, he touched Shane’s abdomen through his shirt, earning a small surprised sound in return. “I have no idea how Edward and Ryan fare in bed since we’re all gentlemen here, but, again, it is my honest belief that you would be on top.”
Shane grinned. “C’mon, babe, you know I let you top, too. I’m not like that.”
Jared placed a small kiss on his lips. “Shane, if I wanted money, I wouldn’t be here. Plus, you are richer than me, anyway. You have the bar and an awesome family.”
“You have an awesome family, too.”
“Not as numerous as yours,” Jared pointed out. “Numerically wise, you beat me.”
“I’m not competing with you,” Shane protested.
“Ha! So you are competing. But haven’t Adrian and Mike told you already about how little interested I am about material things? All right, maybe not shampoos -“
“I’ll buy you as many as you want.”
“See? You are perfectly capable of providing for me. Plus, I have my freelancing career. If we ever run into any trouble of the financial kind, we’ll be fine. I may be, how my friends say, the artistic type, which literally means walking around with my head in the clouds, but I have some savings. Have your ancestral worries been put at ease, now? We’re not going to go hungry now that we’re married.”
Shane made a serious face. “Then is it a good moment to tell you that the bar is going bankrupt?”
Jared stopped and looked at his husband. Shane no longer seemed to be joking. “No, it’s not a good moment since it’s our wedding, and you should have said it sooner. Why didn’t you tell me?”
The suffering karabük escort in Shane’s eyes was real. “Yeah, and the ranch …” He sighed.
Now Jared was growing alarmed. He stole a quick look at the table where his parents were having the time of their lives with Shane’s family. “What about the ranch?” he whispered.
“Will be gone, come fall,” Shane replied.
Consternation was too little a word to describe what Jared was feeling. “What will your parents do?”
Shane’s shoulders slumped in defeat. “They’re thinking of coming to live with me. With us.”
“My apartment is kind of cramped, but we’ll find a bigger place,” Jared said quickly. Shane’s parents didn’t look at all like people on the verge of losing their livelihood. His eyes narrowed, and he punched Shane one time quickly in the stomach.
Shane doubled over theatrically. “Is this the domestic violence I should expect from now on?”
“Shut up. You deserve it. You really fooled me there for a moment.”
Shane began laughing. “You should’ve seen your face, babe. So funny.”
“Yeah, right, because I had to think up ways of accommodating two more families in my impossibly small apartment.”
“Yeah, it is small,” Shane said and shook his head like an old lady disagreeing with the price of mackerel. “Tiny.”
“Well, you didn’t seem to care so much while living there.”
“But it is very, very small.”
Jared stared at Shane, and his mind gears began turning. “Where are you going with this?”
A face splitting grin was the answer. Shane pulled from his pocket a key chain and dangled some keys in front of him. “When we come back from our honeymoon, we’ll move into our new home.”
Jared punched Shane once more in the shoulder. “Did you go house shopping without me?”
“Ouch. Babe, stop going to the gym or you’ll wreck me. My parents gifted it to us.”
“Oh. Then we should go and thank them.”
“Good idea. I think you gave me bruises,” Shane complained.
“Don’t be such a baby. You’ll be fine.”
“Will you kiss me all over to make it better?”
Jared wrapped his hand around Shane’s arm. “Of course I will.”
Mike listened intently to Mrs. Armstrong’s recount of a strange adventure that involved a stray cat, an accountant, and an old neighbor. He hadn’t quite yet decided if he understood exactly how the stray cat had come to play a role in the story, but Ryan’s mother had a knack for making everything sound like it was extremely important. The problem was that he focused so much that he somehow failed to understand the plot.
“I will steal my husband for a moment,” Ryan announced.
Mike fought hard not to let his mother-in-law see his relief at being saved.
He joined Ryan on the dancefloor. As he wrapped his arms around his neck, he whispered, “Thank you.”
“My mom thinks you’re a great listener. I heard her saying that you never interrupt, and you always have this look on your face like you understand everything.”
“Ugh, I’m afraid I don’t understand anything, and I’m just pretending that I do.”
“Don’t worry; nobody really gets her stories.”
“Seriously? Not even you? Or your dad?”
“We do get a few things here and there, but she’s a bit quirky.”
“Hmm, I think I’m quirky, too. That means that I should understand her.”
“Maybe you do since she’s so keen on thinking that you’re completely on the same wavelength.”
“Did she say that?”
“Ever since that little confrontation -“
“Which I didn’t want -“
“Ever since there, she’s been infatuated with you. In her book, that’s a lot.”
Mike pondered for a while. karabük escort bayan “Is the stray cat a red herring?”
Ryan pulled back so they could look each other in the eyes. “Is that from the story with the accountant and the neighbor?”
“Yeah, that one.”
“I really have no idea, Mike. She’s my mom, but sometimes only she knows what she’s talking about. And that’s a face she doesn’t show to anyone except family.”
“So, I’m special?” Mike asked.
Ryan pulled him close as they glided on the dancefloor. “You totally are, Micah, you totally are.”
“Now I’m sure the cat is a red herring,” he said with conviction.
“And I’m sure you must be the only one to get my mom completely,” Ryan replied and finally shut him up with a kiss.
“You must be really proud. The reception is a great success.”
Edward’s mother hooked her hand around his arm. “You know very well that it’s only a rehearsal. Wait till the reception Charles wants to throw for you.”
“Should I be worried?” Adrian asked.
“I put in a few good words. He will lose that stiffness, trust me. I already told him that your business acumen is truly outstanding. Since it comes from me, he has to believe it.”
“Then I’m glad that I have you on my side,” Adrian replied.
“You’re the man my son decided to marry. I trust him, and I’m not just throwing words around, Adrian. Even if I was surprised to see someone as good looking as you involved so deeply in whatever concerns financial matters, let’s say that my surprise was a pleasant one. Edward really hit the jackpot with you.”
“I hope this isn’t just you flattering me, right?”
“No, it’s not. Charles is happy to learn that his son-in-law is dependable. He was worried about Edward’s lack of interest in anything regarding the family wealth. Now you took a burden from his shoulders.”
“Will I become as stiff as my father-in-law once I start to get really involved in these matters?”
Edward’s mother laughed. “Only the future will tell. For now, I think you’ll do fine. And it is up to Edward to keep your life interesting and entertainment, as your husband.”
“There you are.” Edward kept Adrian’s mom company, and they appeared to get along just as well as he and his mother-in-law were. “I think it’s time for us to join the others for a final toast.”
Their mothers didn’t mind being left behind, as they engaged right away in animated conversation. Adrian was happy to see his mother so happy with her new relatives. Since he had sprung on his folks the news of him getting married, he was beyond satisfied with how well they took everything.
“My father is over the moon with how reliable you are,” Edward said.
“That’s exactly what your mother told me,” Adrian replied and offered his husband his arm. “I still have plenty of things to learn.”
“And I have complete confidence in your abilities to conquer any challenge,” Edward said with conviction.
“I wonder,” Adrian said with a hint of a smile, “if anyone realizes that I’m marrying into a life of hardship.”
Edward laughed and leaned in to place a quick kiss on his cheek. “Yes, I’m the lucky one, and nobody suspects a thing. Let it be our little secret. And if you ever find these things too much, we can just leave lawyers and whoever else is needed to handle everything.”
“I wouldn’t do that. It’s our family, and I will watch over our best interests, always.”
“Damn. Have you spent a lot of time lately in my father’s company? You start to sound like him.”
“Who knows? I might end up to live up to the Hastings’ famous cold as a fish attitude.”
“No escort karabük way,” Edward protested. “And if you ever do, I’ll take care of you. In fact, I will do that, as soon as we live for our honeymoon.”
“Which should happen in … what … half an hour?”
“First, let’s listen to my father’s speech.”
Mike and Ryan were chasing each other and Bran on the beach, while Jared and Shane were sipping from two straws stuck inside the same tall glass filled with an exotic drink.
“I know your mom wanted to take care of the wedding, but you surprised us with this shared honeymoon,” Jared said.
Edward shrugged. “This was actually my idea. Adrian spent so little time with you the last few months, so I thought of surprising everyone with this trip.”
“Well, it’s awesome,” Jared said. “Mike was incredibly happy that you allowed them to bring their dog along.”
“How could I have said ‘no’? I like dogs a lot.”
“I vouch for that,” Adrian intervened. “If Mike and Ryan ever have troubles training Bran, I’m telling you, this guy here is the best doggy whisperer in the land.”
Mike and Ryan fell exhausted by their side, directly on the sand. “We don’t have troubles training Bran. He has, with us. There’s no way we can keep up with him,” Mike moaned.
“You’re just out of shape,” Adrian said with a grin. “You need the workout, Mike, admit it.”
“It’s true,” Mike admitted. “Hey, Edward, is this island yours?”
“Yeah, I was wondering the same,” Shane jumped into the conversation after finishing his drink and licking the last drop from Jared’s lips.
“Guys, that’s not a nice thing to ask,” Jared said.
“It’s all right,” Edward replied. “It’s not. We just rented the place since it’s small enough to accommodate us without imposing on other tourists.”
“But you could own one, right?” Mike asked.
“I don’t think it would be a viable option,” Adrian said.
Edward hooked one arm over his husband’s shoulders. “He knows better.”
Jared took a look at his friends and their husbands, and suddenly, an idea came to him. “Guys, did you know that Shane and I are moving to a new neighborhood? There are a bunch of awesome properties there.”
Adrian exchanged a look with Edward. Mike did the same with Ryan.
“Are you guys thinking what I’m thinking?” Jared asked, more and more excited. “We could all live there if you guys want.” Some of his enthusiasm vanished. “Although Edward and Adrian need to live at that large estate, right? And Ryan, you already have that house … Ah, maybe it wasn’t such a great idea, after all.”
“What are you talking about?” That was Edward. “It’s actually excellent.”
Adrian laughed. “My husband is not that crazy about living like the Hastings,” he explained. “I guess he only needed a push.”
Edward turned toward him. “Adrian, do you think we can?”
“Of course. I’d like to live in the same neighborhood with the guys.”
Mike took Ryan’s hand. “What do you say, Ryan?” He didn’t dare to make puppy eyes at his husband, but it was almost natural for him to do that when he wanted to ask something. Apparently, he was a natural.
“We will definitely look at them. You guys are so close friends that I know you would miss one another.”
“And now, you, our husbands,” Jared said and hugged Shane, “are our friends, too.”
“We could do everything together,” Mike said, “like before. Okay, so maybe not everything, but a lot, right?”
“Sure thing,” Adrian confirmed. “Come on, guys, let’s take it all here.” He extended his hand, and Edward placed his on top. The others followed quickly. “For friendship?”
“For friendship!” They all shouted at the same time.
Author’s note: And it’s done! I know it’s been quite the ride for me to write this story, so I hope you enjoyed it! It took a while for everyone to get his happiness, but they’re there now, and yes, they will live happily ever after!
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