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|Chapter 11: Morning Serenade|
Eric, feeling the tequila burning in his veins, found himself aroused by the sensations of a body that was so much like his own, thrilled by the new and different experience, as the tequila blocked any thought of the future, or consequences.
Given the pain they were threatening to cause, it was true irony that it proved to be pain that saved them. In his frantic contortions, Eric bumped his forearm into Brandon’s bruised ribs. Brandon shuddered from the sharp jolt of discomfort, and for a brief moment it cleared his mind just long enough for him to realize what he was doing, and more to the point, what he was risking. Chase’s image returned to his mind, and Brandon, knowing now that he had to stop, seized upon it, forcing himself to remember that Eric was not Chase, and that what was happening was nothing short of betrayal.
Pulling his mouth free of Eric, Brandon gasped, “We can’t do this.”
Driven by lust and instinct, not to mention tequila, Eric was in no mind to be denied. He pulled Brandon’s body in tight, moving in to resume the kiss as he said, “But you wanted to. It was your idea.”
Shocked by Eric’s statement, Brandon realized how Eric could have taken his words. Pushing Eric away with more resolve, Brandon said, “No, you got it wrong, I didn’t mean me! Chase is your brother and my fiancé, we can’t do this!”
The urgency of Brandon’s words and actions, combined with the mention of his brother’s name, were enough to fight the effects of the tequila, and Eric relaxed his grip, not fighting as Brandon eased back a few inches. The flood of realization of what had happened chilled him, and he said in a low, pained, voice, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I… I… just fucked up. What are we going to do?”
Relaxing a little and relieved, still catching his breath, Brandon replied, “A good place to start would be taking your hand off my dick before I explode.”
Suddenly aware of where he still had his hand, Eric snatched it out of Brandon’s jeans and rolled away, lying on his back, as the reality of what had occurred hit him in full force. Brandon, moving a little slower due to his injuries, settled into a more comfortable position. Both boys sat in silence, not knowing what to say or do, until the sound of the approaching bikers caught Brandon’s ear. He leaned over and in a desperate whisper told Eric, “We can’t let them find us like this…”
Moving as one, Eric and Brandon edged as silently as possible into the proffered cover of some scrub oak and, not even daring to breathe, remained silent as the searching bikers passed by. Waiting until he felt it was safe, Brandon whispered, “We’ve got to get back fast. If Chase finds out what happened…” Brandon let his words trail off, not wanting to give voice to his fears.
“Yeah, I don’t want to even think about that,” Eric said as he got to his feet. The dark, moon-splashed woods, once so accommodating, suddenly seemed filled with risk to the two guys, and they began walking towards the house. Before leaving the tree line, both guys brushed themselves off, checked that their jeans were buttoned, and walked purposefully towards the house, both unconsciously maintaining a discreet distance from the other.
Brandon’s mind reeled, wondering how he could ever face Chase. In that moment, he knew that he’d have to tell him, at the right time.
Eric, now largely free of the tequila’s influence, began to understand what he’d so nearly done; a betrayal of his brother, and permanent harm to someone he’d come to think of as like a brother. He knew that Brandon was in love with Chase, and that love was a fragile thing, one he’d nearly destroyed, less than two weeks before their marriage. Taking a glance at Brandon, and seeing the cold expression on his face, Eric wondered if things between himself and Brandon could ever be the same. In his heart, Eric feared that he’d poisoned their friendship forever. Of all the things he’d ever done on tequila, he easily judged this as the worst by far.
Inside the house, Eric uncharacteristically shied away from the attention of the bikers, fending off inquires as to whether he was okay with a friendly nod. Brandon found Chase in the living room, and took a seat by his side. Chase immediately saw the bruises on Brandon’s rib cage and shot his boyfriend a concerned look before asking, “What happened? While you were gone with Eric, I heard about the fight. I didn’t know you’d been hurt. Are you okay? Did Eric do that?”
Smiling wanly, Brandon replied, “I’m okay, and Eric’s fine. We pretty much just talked. I got jumped by a couple of bikers earlier, but everything’s okay now. They’re gone and out of the club. Maybe we should head home. I don’t know about you but I think I’ve had enough partying for one night.”
Hearing something unsaid in Brandon’s words, Chase nodded in agreement, and they walked over to Jim to let him know they were going, and wishing him a great time for the remainder of his party. Jim looked uneasily at Brandon, assuming that the fight was the only reason they were leaving, but after receiving a reassuring nod, he let them go without any argument.
As they walked out the door, Chase took a glance at Eric, reassuring himself that Eric looked sober enough. Chase caught Jon’s eye, and received an unspoken assurance that he’d keep an eye on Eric. Turning away, an old memory clicked again in Chase’s mind and he took one more look at Eric. Heading out the door, Chase walked with Brandon, close enough to smell his cologne. A cold silence settled between them – one that Brandon felt but didn’t know how to breech. Brandon’s mind raced, fueled by his guilty imagination, his fears haunting his thoughts as he wondered if Chase suspected something or was merely upset about the fight.
Upon reaching their room, Brandon took a seat in a chair by the bed, and to breech the silence he said, “I’m sorry about the fight. I had no idea I’d be involved in anything like that. I was jumped. Jim and Mad Mike had my back so I was safe enough, but I’m sorry it happened.”
Nodding, taking a seat in a nearby chair and making no attempt to move closer to Brandon, Chase eyed him and then asked as casually as he could muster, “How did things go with Eric? Have a good talk?”
Shuddering inside a little, Brandon decided that now was not the time to broach that subject with Chase. Not meeting Chase’s eyes, Brandon said, “He’s okay. We talked for a while, and he came down off the tequila.”
Sweeping his eyes across Brandon’s legs, seeing again the familiar torn denim, Chase nodded and shrugged. Then, with a calmness far from what he felt, he asked, “So, there’s no particular reason why you smell of Eric’s cologne and have pine needles all over your Levis, right?”
Brandon’s sudden pallor was response enough to support Chase’s suspicions.
In Los Angeles, Keith and Jansen rehearsed their act one more time, finally satisfied that they had gotten it right. It had taken longer than they’d thought; but they’d worked on it in their off hours. “I think Eric will love it,” Jansen said, with an odd sparkle in his eyes.
Keith nodded. His one regret was that they were putting all this effort into a single job. He’d tried to convince their manager George to let them try out some of it at the club, but George had vetoed the idea. “Doesn’t fit the image,” he’d said, which to Keith gave further proof that George wanted cheesy, tacky acts, not something of quality. Still, they had little choice but to stick with George. He and his ilk seemed to be the only game in town.
As the biker party wound down, Jon kept an eye on Eric, growing concerned about his drinking spree. Not tequila, a fact that made Jon breathe an inner sigh of relief, but whiskey, straight up, shot after shot. Eric was drinking to get drunk; something Jon had never seen him do before. Jon knew there must be a reason, and suspected that it was something bad. He resolved to find out what, and he hauled his staggering brother outside for a chat.
Brandon’s gut clenched, and the pain from his ribs was far less than the pain in his heart as he glanced down and saw the truth of Chase’s words. There were a lot more pine needles on the front of his jeans than could be explained by just sitting and talking. Irony, yet again, reared its head, for Brandon had gained most of the pine needles when he’d been tackled by Eric. Chase had made the right assumption from the wrong evidence, but Brandon, in his guilt, didn’t realize this. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as he met Chase’s cold and angry eyes. Feeling his world come crashing down, Brandon let his jaw fall open, and then closed it again before finally stuttering, “I… I was going to tell you. Something almost happened between Eric and me.”
Feeling his heart begin to break, Chase asked, in a cool and cold voice, “Almost? I’d say something happened and you tried to hide it. What the fuck? The truth, Brand, all of it, right now, or there’ll never be a later.”
Seeing the resolve behind those words in Chase’s burning eyes, Brandon hung his head, nodded once, and began to tell the story, starting with the fight, taking care to leave nothing out. Biting his tongue, not saying a word or reacting in any way, Chase let Brandon ramble on. Twenty painful minutes later, Brandon got to the point where he’d returned to the house to find Chase. Falling silent, Brandon steeled himself and looked up to face Chase, fearing what he’d see but needing to nonetheless.
They faced each other in silence, the gulf between them palpable and all too real. Chase studied his boyfriend for a while, digesting what he’d learned. Anger, betrayal, and a growing tinge of sympathy warred within, and the doubt he’d felt earlier joined in with the gamut of emotions. The fact that Brandon had tried to hide what had occurred was foremost in his mind, and that caused him to question whether Brandon was telling the truth. Chase had no doubts that Eric, on tequila, was fully capable of acting as described. What Chase wanted, no, needed to know was the truth of Brandon’s role and actions. Brandon had had the chance to come clean on his own, both back at the party and once they returned to his room, but had only done so when confronted by the evidence.
Knowing that he needed to be sure, Chase stood up, nodded once, and headed for the door as he said in an angry tone, “Don’t follow me. I’ll be back in a while, or I won’t.”
Chase stalked out into the darkness, unsure for a moment as to what he intended to do. He was angrier than he’d ever been, furious with both Eric and Brandon. Eric. Anger focused his thoughts, as he realized that his brother held the key to the truth of the matter, and with that in mind, he headed for the Jacobs Ranch.
Sitting in the suddenly silent room, Brandon put a hand on his aching head. He felt a new emotion of his own; anger. He knew he’d messed up by not telling Chase as soon as they were alone, but he felt that Chase had no grounds to be as angry as he was. Brandon sat, alone, choosing his words for the argument he felt sure was coming.
Chase made it about halfway to the Jacobs Ranch before he saw two figures in the darkness, heading in his direction. As he got closer, he recognized his bothers, and saw that Jon was half-carrying a staggering Eric.
Jon looked up and saw Chase’s profile in the moonlight. “Give me a hand with Eric; he’s drunk off his ass,” Jon asked, hoping that Eric was too drunk to say much.
“Set him down, I need to talk to him before we go anywhere,” Chase said, in a tone that left Jon with no doubts that Chase was aware of at least some of the evening’s events.
Without a word, Jon let go and Eric collapsed on the ground in a disjointed heap. Chase caught the meaning of Jon’s actions and stated as a fact rather than a question, “I guess you know, some of it at least.”
Jon sat down as he said, “Yeah, Eric blurted out that something had happened. This is way too fucked up, even for him.”
Chase sat down facing Eric and replied to Jon, “You can say that again.” Glaring at Eric in the shimmering moonlight, Chase said with a razor’s edge to his voice, “What the fuck have you done, Eric. I was going to get married and…” Chase couldn’t finish his sentence, fearing his own words, and not wanting to give voice to the finality of the statement.
Struggling to sit up, his eyes refusing to focus, Eric saw Chase’s image swimming about in the blur. Almost unconscious, though still feeling a painful, ever-present vestige of intense guilt, Eric blurted out in a badly slurred way, “I didn’t mean too, Chase, I swear. It just happened. It’s my fault. I started it. Brandon stopped me. We were both drunk, Chase, and Brandon stopped me. We didn’t want to hurt you, that’s why we stopped. I swear I’m sorry…” Eric’s words trailed off as he slumped sideways, passed out cold.
Breaking the ensuing silence, Jon added, “I saw him pounding down shots after you and Brandon left. I’ve never seen him drink like that before, so when he started to stagger I hauled him outside. He told me some of what happened. If it’s true, I don’t know what to say except it’s totally fucked up. I guess Brandon told you?”
Chase let out a long sigh. “Yeah, but only after I confronted him. What I do know is he was trying to hide it until I busted him.”
Some things, Jon knew, once done could not be undone. Seeing the danger, he decided that he had to get involved before everything ended for Brandon and Chase. He felt a sense of surprise at his own thoughts; there had been a time when he'd had serious reservation regarding Brandon and Chase becoming a couple, but for Jon, seeing had led, in the end, to believing. If they broke up, that was their choice, but Jon didn't want to see it happen due to a misunderstanding. After thinking for a second, Jon said, “My take on it is that Brandon was drunk and coming down off the rush of the fight. Then Eric tries to jump his bones and it took Brandon a while to react and stop him. We both know that Eric is capable of anything when he’s been drinking tequila.”
Shrugging, feeling cold inside, Chase replied, “Brandon says they made out for a while, and that’s how come he was all covered with pine needles and Eric’s cologne. How could Brandon do that to me; make out with my fucking brother?”
The first thing Jon noticed was Chase’s use of Brandon’s full name. Chase had long called Brandon ‘Brand’ but now that selfsame familiar endearment was glaring by its profound absence. “Did Brandon say that he stopped Eric, or did they do the deed?” Jon asked.
Chase shrugged again. “He says he broke it off before they got that far. Brandon must have been willing for a while. Even if he was drunk, how the hell could he do that, with my own damn brother? He said he was hit in the head in the fight, but…”
For a moment, Jon didn’t know how to answer that question, but then he decided to just stick with the facts that he knew, thinking that if Chase decided to end things with Brandon, that was his choice, but Jon felt compelled to make sure Chase wasn’t acting on false assumptions. He knew his kid brother’s temper: it could flash hot, but he cooled down soon enough. “Shook up from a fight, then add alcohol, a bump in the head, and then Eric takes him by surprise… I think, if I were you, I’d be more focused on the fact that Brandon stopped at all,” Jon said.
Thinking it over, Chase remained silent for over a minute before saying, “Yeah. Guess I flew off the handle.”
“I had my doubts about him at first. You know that. What you two do or don’t do is your business, but don’t throw what you have away for the wrong reasons, okay bro?” Jon said.
His anger ebbing fast, Chase nodded. Looking at Eric’s unconscious form, he said, “Let’s get the damn sex fiend back to the house, then I need to go talk to Brand.” Noticing the return of Chase’s nickname for Brandon, Jon allowed himself a smile.
Several minutes later, Jon and Chase poured Eric onto the couch, and Chase returned to his room. Shutting the door behind him as softly as he could, he flicked on the light to find Brandon sitting on the floor, his back against the wall and arms wrapped around his knees, staring at the ceiling. Chase sat down by Brandon’s side, and broke the silence by saying, “I want to fix this, Brand.”
Surprised, all thoughts of an argument gone, Brandon looked over at Chase, and nodded. “So do I. More than anything.”
“Let’s put what happened between you and Eric aside for a while. You… both of us, have been having second thoughts due to some of the stuff that’s happened since we came out. We didn’t talk about it and that made it worse. That’s what I think anyway,” Chase said.
Brandon thought it through, and agreed, “Yeah, I think so too. But in a weird way, what happened tonight helped me see that no matter what, I want us to be together. There’s no point in wondering if we should have come out; what’s done is done. Things may be rough at times, but we’ll get through it.”
“Coming out was my idea,” Chase said, “And I’ve been the one having the most regrets. When I heard that it got you into a fight tonight, I was freaked out. I guess I was worried that you’d be the one having second thoughts after that. Maybe that’s why I flew off the handle about you and Eric.”
Brandon shook his head. “No, you were right. I fucked up. I don’t know why I didn’t stop it right away. I should have and I didn’t. I didn’t tell you at the party because I wanted to do it in private, but when we got back here I got scared. I’m sorry I didn’t stop it sooner, and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you right away.”
Allowing himself a faint smile, Chase replied in studied understatement, “I guess telling me in front of all those bikers would not have been a good idea.” With a more serious tone, he said, “You stopped and that tells me a lot, but it was you not telling me when we got back here that set me off. I guess I can understand you not wanting to just blurt it out, but…”
A moment’s pause, and then Brandon nodded once in understanding. “I see your point. I was still a little messed up from the whole thing–”
Chase gave Brandon a wan smile, “I’ll bet the fight with the bikers plus a couple of knocks on the head didn’t help much.”
With a rueful smile, Brandon agreed, “Yeah, there is that.” Brandon’s hand found Chase’s, and they both reveled in the warmth for a moment.
Making an admission of his own, Chase looked at the ceiling for a moment before meeting Brandon’s eyes to say, “I was trying to think how to warn you when you hung up. I didn’t really think he’d try anything, and I couldn’t find the words. One of the things tequila does to Eric is it makes him horny as hell, and he has been talking about trying things with a guy. He also said something to me last time he was on tequila, back in San Francisco after he got caught kissing that guy, about you being hot. At the time I thought he was joking, but when you called I did wonder for a second if he’d try anything with you. I just couldn’t think of how to say it without sounding like a paranoid ass.”
With a disgruntled snort, Brandon lowered his voice to say, “Yeah, tequila makes him horny, not to mention totally fucking insane.”
“So, what the hell are we going to do about Eric?” Chase asked, with a dejected tone returning to his voice.
Brandon sat back and shrugged. After a long and thoughtful silence, he said, “Eric’s not sane when he’s on tequila. We know that. I guess I can see how he misinterpreted what I said, and he did stop when I asked him to. He was planning on taking a fucking Harley from the party. If he’d done that, those bikers would have beat the holy crap out of him, if he was lucky. Stealing from a biker is dumb, but to take their bike? Shit, I can’t imagine a worse idea.”
“I can. Getting it on with you, which is exactly what he tried to do. Look, I know he’s out of his head when he drinks tequila, and I know he feels bad about what happened, but damn it, he knows he goes nuts and he drank the fucking tequila anyway!” Chase said, his anger returning.
Feeling the need to share one mitigating fact, Brandon said, “The first drink wasn’t intentional. I was there when the guy he got it from told Mad Mike, and Eric took a swig thinking it was whiskey. Then he gulped a few more.”
Chase scowled. “So? It doesn’t affect him instantly. I can understand the first drink, but not the rest. Damn it, I’m so pissed off at him right now.”
Recalling an incident from their past, which involved Jon, a hangover, and Chase's drum, Brandon asked, "Where's Eric now?"
"Passed out. Jon said he was chugging whiskey."
"Chugging whiskey enough to pass out?" Brandon smiled and remarked in an overly casual, offhand way, “Damn, he’s going to have one hell of a hangover in the morning. That might be the perfect time to drum home a point or two about tequila.”
It took a moment, but Chase picked up on Brandon’s double meaning, and broke into a wicked grin. “Good thing we brought our gear along so we could play at Jim’s wedding tomorrow,” Chase said with a blatantly false innocent smile.
With a shrug, Brandon said, “Drums work, but I can’t play drums. So, mind if I accompany you by banging some pots and pans together?”
Laughing, Chase nodded in agreement, “That’ll work, as long as you help me find some string or rope first. I don’t want him getting away.”
Sharing a laugh, their eyes met, and Brandon, relieved that the tensions between himself and Chase seemed to be gone, said softly, “I love you, Chase.”
Squeezing Brandon’s hand, Chase smiled as he replied, “I love you too, Brand. I feel a lot better about things than I did before the party. One thing’s still bothering me though…”
Suddenly disquieted, Brandon tried to think of what Chase’s concern might be, but coming up blank he asked, “What?”
With a sly smile at Brandon’s expected response, Chase replied, “You’re still wearing those Levis.”
Brandon began to reply, but broke into a smile as he finally saw where Chase was going. Smiling, he watched as Chase stood up, and then offered a hand. Taking Chase’s hand, Brandon let Chase pull him to his feet. Glancing at Brandon’s bare torso, Chase said, “That bruise looks bad,” as he traced his fingers down the sides of Brandon’s bare chest, taking his time, feeling the warm skin, until his fingers came to rest in the jean’s waistband. Hooking his thumbs under the denim, Chase eased backwards towards the bed, pulling a very willing Brandon along as he said, “Let’s get those Levis off,” and over the next two hours, he proceeded to do exactly that, and very much more.
Sated, rested, and with most of their concerns a thing of the past, Brandon and Chase slowly awoke, naked and intertwined. All thoughts of a repeat of the night’s passions departed as Chase glanced at the clock and said, “Hey, Brand, it’s nine-thirty. We’ve got to take care of Eric before Helen gets here.”
Opening his groggy eyes, regretting that he and Chase couldn’t stay in bed all day, Brandon mumbled, “Do you really think she’d stop us, given what he’s done?”
Clambering out of bed and pulling on some shorts, Chase shrugged and then replied, offhand, “Nah, she’d probably do a lot worse. I just wanted to give Eric the joy of explaining everything to her himself.”
“You’re evil, and I love it,” Brandon laughed, again thanking fate that things had worked out as they had. He was painfully aware how close the prior night had come to wrecking everything.
Chase tossed Brandon a pair of shorts, accompanied by an evil smile, “If you think that now, wait until you see what I do to Eric. C’mon, let’s get him.” Brandon replied with a nod, and then, still moving slowly thanks to his injuries from the night before, pulled the shorts on and climbed out of bed.
Together, they crept out of their bedroom with unnecessary stealth. They found Eric still asleep on the couch, face up and snoring softly, the pungent tinge of stale whiskey heavy in the air.
Tiptoeing towards the kitchen, Chase motioned towards the drawers. Moments later, he’d found what he was looking for, and decided that it would have to do. They returned to the couch, and Chase, with the ball of heavy string in hand, took great care to avoid waking up Eric as he wrapped several coils of string around Eric’s ankles, lashing them together before tying off the ends to a leg of the couch.
While Chase tended to the rope work, Brandon crept into the garage and retrieved one of Chase’s drums, and then armed himself with two large brass pots.
With his drum ready by his side, Chase gave vent to his temper and slugged Eric in the shoulder as he yelled, “Wake up, asshole!”
Cringing from the noise, one hand going to his suddenly aching shoulder. Eric squirmed, opening his eyes and then shutting them against the painful glare. Eric felt the pounding in his head and moaned once, attempting to roll over, his mind not grasping the reason why his legs wouldn’t respond. In no mood for delay, Chase slugged him again, landing a blow that made Brandon wince from the sound, and began to shake Eric.
His eyes opening wide for a moment, Eric began to remember a few of the prior night’s events. His memory flooding back in disjointed fragments, Eric began to comprehend the reason for Chase’s anger. He could remember that something had happened between him and Brandon, not exactly what, and then drinking hard and feeling bad. With his tender head pounding, Eric mumbled, “Oww,” and clenched his eyes shut in pain.
“Brand, could you do me a favor and get me a big glass of ice water?” Chase asked, with an edge to his voice.
Feeling very glad that he wasn’t Eric, Brandon hurried to the kitchen, and within moments, Chase had the mug of ice water in hand. Regretting that Eric was still wearing his jeans and thus depriving him of access to a more tempting target area, Chase tilted the ice water, and with a casual motion, he dumped it in the middle of Eric’s bare chest.
Eric’s miserable wail filled the room as the shockingly cold water jolted him to full and painful consciousness. Jerking half upright, Eric pressed his hands to his pounding head and gasped, “What the fuck?”
“That’s pretty much what this is about, asshole,” Chase yelled, upping the volume even more to add, “I fucking hate you right now!”
Eric, still reeling from the painful noise of Chase’s yelling, glanced around to find Brandon standing nearby, arms crossed and a scowl on his face. That sight evoked a memory, of Brandon’s face in the moonlight as he tried to tug Brandon’s jeans off. Eric’s jaw dropped as his bleary mind began to understand what he’d done. “Oh, fuck…” Eric mumbled in a decidedly inappropriate choice of words as he stared at Brandon.
“You remember now, do you?” Chase snarled, and placed his drum near Eric’s tender head.
His eyes opening wide in spite of the pain as he saw what was in his brother’s hands, Eric tried in vain to disappear into the couch, his mind racing, his muddled head pounding, as Chase raised his arm slammed the palm of his hand down on the drum’s skin.
Arching his back and throwing his arms across his face, Eric recoiled as blinding pain exploded through his tender head, letting out a gasp of pure misery. Chase picked up the tempo, moving the drum even closer to his brother’s head and pounding out a raucous din.
“Stop, no…” Eric moaned, writhing on the couch, wishing that he were dead. The only result of his pleading was that Brandon joined in on the other side, halfheartedly banging the brass pots together, just once.
After a few seconds of the cacophonous serenade, which seemed to Eric to last for years, Chase paused. Head pounding, breaking out into a cold sweat, Eric’s mind danced among the confused, blurry images of the night before. Some, he remembered. Some, he did not. He remembered, now, making his move on Brandon, and then the foreplay. What he couldn’t remember was just how far they’d taken it. Eric’s bleary eyes fell on Chase’s furious face, and Eric suspected that it had gone all the way, and that Chase knew. “Oh, no. Chase, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to, I’d never…” Eric said in a plaintive voice, one that melted Brandon’s resolve but not Chase’s.
“But you did,” Chase said in a cold voice, and pounded on his drum to drive home his point.
Twisting, desperate to get free of the blinding daggers that lacerated his mind with every reverberation, Eric fell off the couch and began to crawl away, hindered by his bound legs, and brought to a halt when he reached the literal end of his rope.
Collapsing on the floor in a miserable heap, the room whirling around him, Eric pressed his hands against his ears and begged, “Just kill me, please. Just make it stop, please. I’m sorry…” Eric’s plea ended with a muffled sob, accompanied by the beginnings of tears in his eyes.
Seeing that his brother was in real misery, and appeared to be truly sorry, Chase finally relented. Setting the drum down for the time being, he sat down on the floor next to Eric and said, “You almost fucking wrecked everything. How the hell could you do that? Never mind, I know you’re capable of anything… So help me, if you ever, and I mean ever, make a move on Brandon again, I swear to God I will cut your nuts off. I mean that, every damn word. You fucking got that, asshole?”
Eric nodded, still cringing, and his skin began to take on a sweaty pallor. “Let me go to the bathroom,” he begged, beginning to gag.
Relenting a little, Chase untied Eric’s feet, and let him scramble and stagger, half standing and half falling, in a desperate race for the toilet, where Eric’s stomach continued to heave.
Brandon and Chase let Eric finish throwing up, cringing at the sound. Finally, they heard the toilet flush, and then the sound of the bathroom sink. Eric staggered out, his face dripping from the water he’d splashed on it, his head hung low. He could never remember feeling worse, either physically or emotionally. The one thing he held onto for the thin ray of hope it offered was that Chase had said ‘almost’. That, he felt, combined with his own fractured memories – which now included a glimmering recall of Brandon pushing him away – meant that they hadn’t gone all the way, and that the situation could be salvaged, maybe. Collapsing back onto the couch, his hangover and guilt causing him to feel misery incarnate, he found his voice and said in a hoarse, gravelly tone, “I don’t remember everything, but I remember enough to know I fucked up. I’m Sorry! I don’t know why I did that.” Eric meant every word, for he now realized that, had things gone further, he’d have likely destroyed Brandon and Chase’s relationship, plus his own with them.
Having finally been awoken by the cacophonous noise, Jon, who had a well-earned reputation for being nearly impossible to wake, waited in his room, listening at the door as he put the pieces together, glad that this time he wasn’t the one with the hangover. Deciding that he’d waited long enough, he walked out of his room. He exchanged approving nods with Brandon and Chase, and then settled into a chair to watch. Jon didn’t mind at all; he was furious over what Eric had done, but in Jon’s case there was the additional factor that Eric had gone after a guy. That thought lingered for a moment, until Jon chalked it up to the tequila.
Eric gathered his mind enough to continue, “You’re right, Chase, and I’m sorry… I fucked up. Brandon, I’m really sorry for what I did. Chase, I don’t know what to say. I swear, if I ever, and I mean ever, touch tequila again, do whatever you want to me, okay?”
Chase could see that Eric was sincere. The proffered deal both shocked and delighted him. Eric’s tequila-fueled actions had grown steadily worse each time, and Chase, though still angry, clearly saw the allure of settling things now, based on the promise that Eric would henceforth steer clear of that particular liquor.
After exchanging glances with Brandon and Jon, Chase buried his anger, chewed on his lip for a moment, and then said in a neutral voice, “If, and only if, you swear that you’ll never touch that fucking stuff again, okay? This is over and settled. But… I’ll take you at your word and you don’t want to know what I’ll do to you if you go back on it. Trust me on that.”
Nodding, feeling relieved beyond words but still suffering from his abused head, Eric gave his solemn promise, and meant it.
“You better mean that, because if you slip up and Chase doesn’t get you, I will,” Helen said, entering the room, having listened by the door for long enough to have a pretty good idea what had transpired the night before. Crestfallen, Eric nodded, instantly regretting moving his head, as Linda and Barbra followed Helen into the room. Helen smiled as she said, “I guess we better get ready. We’ve got a wedding here today.”
That day was a miserable one for Eric. In spite of his hangover, he pitched in and helped finish the setups for the wedding. By noon, bikers began arriving, and the caterers Helen had hired began to look decidedly nervous as they realized what kind of a crowd they’d be serving.
To the caterer’s relief, no trouble started. Helen and Barbra sequestered Linda in a bedroom and helped her get ready as Jim arrived, decked out in a new set of riding leathers.
The wedding itself began at two, and as Eric plucked the notes of the Wedding March on his bass, Jim walked, with Brandon as his second, proudly down the improvised aisle between the rows of gleaming Harleys, to where Mad Mike stood ready, under the wrought iron archway, to perform the ceremony.
Eric waited for his cue, and then after a signal from Barbra, began to play the notes of ‘Here Comes the Bride,’ as Linda, accompanied by Helen and clutching a bouquet of orchids, decked out in her own new set of riding leathers, marched down the aisle towards a beaming Jim.
After reciting an identical set of vows, Jim and Linda turned to face their audience as Brandon handed Jim a matching set of rings. Jim slipped a golden band on Linda’s finger, and then she, fumbling only slightly, placed Jim’s band on his finger. Mad Mike raised his hands above his head, clapped twice, in slow cadence, and then his voice boomed out, “I now pronounce you Man and Wife. Kiss the bride already, you ornery, lucky, son of a bitch!”
Chucking at the half-expected ad-lib, Jim did as he’d been told, giving his wife a deep and passionate kiss before joining arm in arm and marching down the aisle. Brandon waited until they were a few yards away, and then dashed to the stage to join Jon, Eric and Chase as the first notes of Instinct’s hit ‘Believe’ filled the air.
After a set of a dozen songs, the members of Instinct paused to jump down from the stage and congratulate Jim and Linda. As they talked to Jim, Linda gave Helen a wink and then yelled, “Hey Eric, think fast!”
Eric, his head still tender in spite of half a dozen aspirins, turned towards Linda in time to see a green and white blur rushing towards his head. He reacted by instinct, and reached up to grab the bouquet in mid-air.
Staring without comprehension at the orchids in his hand, Eric heard Linda yell, “You just caught the bouquet. You know what that means, don’cha?”
Eric looked up to see Jim and
Linda mounting Jim’s shining Harley for their ride to the county
courthouse where they’d make their wedding official and, to the
uproarious delight of everyone within earshot, he looked again
at the orchids and muttered, “Oh shit…”
© 2008 C James
Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"
Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.
Thanks also to Shadowgod, for beta reading, support and advice, and for putting up with me.
Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.
A big "thank you" to to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice , and to Captain Rick for his advice.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.