Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands?
Adam hated wedding days. The fact that wedding days paid for his bread and butter didn't make it any better. He hated the drama and the tears and the family squabbling and the true love declarations.
God, he hated those most of all.
The 'I'm so thankful that I've found you's', the 'I looked into your eyes and knew you were the one's', the 'I didn't believe in love until I met you's' and the 'I will love you forever's'. He had a book. It was hidden away from all eyes but his, but every wedding he planned, he wrote down the names and put down a guestimate as to when the divorce would happen. He would have made a fortune in Vegas.
The business of weddings was a Lambert family tradition. His grandparents had started it back in the forties and his mother and father had continued to grow 'Leave it to Lambert', dragging Neil and him in at an early age. The fact that they worked in an environment that was all about love and marriage and forever was a source of endless entertainment for both of them. Neil was even more cynical than he was.
"I give it a year." Neil whispered through the side of his mouth as they stood at the back of the chapel and watched the short blushing bride declare true and everlasting love to her pudgy groom.
Adam gave the pair a considering look. "Two. They're both the desperate sort. They'll hang on longer." Neil held out his hand and they shook on it. Yeah, not so much with the happy ever after.
Their mother poked each of them in the back. "Shut up you two. Can't you just enjoy the romance of the day?" Neil and Adam exchanged looks and simultaneously pretended to retch. Leila snorted softly behind them. "Asses."
The reception was usually when things calmed down, after the dessert course and as the guests grew progressively drunker. Adam headed back to the small room off the ballroom to get himself an aspirin. His head was pounding from the noise and his mouth felt stretched from all the smiling.
He was busy rummaging through his mother's purse for her pill bottle when he heard giggling and the bride and groom stumbled into the room, all hands and lips and they didn't even see Adam. He ducked behind the sofa close to the wall and closed his eyes. Some days he really fucking hated his life.
The sound of clothes rustling and heavy breathing told him what was happening. Now he knew exactly how Hugh Grant had felt in that scene from 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. It made his stomach turn as he imagined what they were doing. The moans and grunts were more than graphic enough. When she began a slow wail and a litany of 'yes, yes, yes' he put his hands over his ears trying to block out the sounds. Then the groom gave a low, drawn out whimper that sounded as though someone was putting his balls through a bandsaw.
And Adam started laughing.
The next few minutes were spent pacifying the humiliated pair and dodging his mother's angry glares. Neil wasn't helpful at all. As soon as heard what had happened he started laughing and hadn't stopped for the past few minutes. They were both banished to the minivan.
"Oh God, I wish I could have seen that." Neil wiped his eyes, still chortling slightly.
Adam shuddered. "Fuck no. It was bad enough hearing everything. I swear, that scene put me off hetero sex for life." It set Neil off again and Adam soon joined him.
When Leila and Eber climbed in the car, they had managed to calm themselves down. Adam grinned sunnily at his mother and said, "Well, at least this wasn't a boring wedding."
Eber tried valiantly to disguise his laugh with a cough but it was a complete fail and eventually Leila's mouth ticked and they were all crying and howling and Adam thought that some days being part of a family business wasn't half bad at all.
The parentals dropped Adam and Neil off at their condo where they each had their own apartment, separated by as many floors as possible. Bidding Leila and Eber goodnight, they headed inside.
"Drink?" Neil offered but Adam shook his head.
"Nah. I am good. It's been a crazy day and night. I am looking forward to a lazy Sunday." Adam rolled his shoulders. "See you in the morning some time?"
Neil nodded and waved, Adam continued his way up the stairs. At this time of night he usually cursed himself for insisting on the top floor. But the view was spectacular and there was a sense of space that he didn't get in Neil's apartment.
He tossed his keys on the table in the hallway and pressed play on his answering machine. It was an old-fashioned tape machine but he loved its quirkiness and the fact that only the people he truly adored had this number.
"Duude!" Allison. "It's a go for next Saturday. Anoop said that you're not allowed to be a bitch about it. The kids need our skills. Later!" Adam groaned. The charity baseball match was not going to be pretty. He started planning his excuses.
"Lambert." Anoop. "Don't even think about it, asswipe. You will be there on Saturday. And bring Megan and Neil." Adam restrained himself from pulling a tongue at the machine. Fuck, now he'd have to go. Ugh, sweating, except in the middle of fucking, was just wrong.
"Barbarella." Brad. "Anoop has left this peculiar message on my mobile telling me to be at the baseball pitch at WeHo High School at nine am next Saturday. Is there something I should know? Cass says he received a similar order. Are we doing something perverse, like exercise? Call me, fucker." Adam groaned again. Anoop was a master shit stirrer, especially when it came to Adam and his friends.
He would have to call Brad back first. His ex would cause havoc if he didn't. He checked the time, but decided it was too late and headed for his bedroom, sloughing clothes as he walked.
He showered quickly and collapsed on the bed. God, he hated weddings. And he slept.
Close your eyes and trust it, just trust it
The sun exploded in the sky the next morning. It was summer so it was bright and shiny and every bird in creation was sitting outside his window singing its head off. He thought about killing them all, the fantasy lasted all of a minute and then he rolled off the bed and headed for the bathroom.
Face washed and teeth brushed, he pulled on a pair of old, soft jeans, a faded Queen t-shirt and a pair of Havianas and headed downstairs to get his morning fix.
Starbucks was already packed, but Vicky, his favourite barista, waved at him and nodded. He smiled and pointed at the butter croissants, held up one finger and she grinned. Who needed sign language?
He headed for the till and handed over his money, telling her to keep the change. She raised an eyebrow. "Rough night?"
Adam took a sip of his non-fat, half and half mocha latte and sighed. "Wedding."
Vicky nodded. "Poor you." He'd spent a good deal of time whining to her about his job. "How long for this pair?' He'd also told her about his cynical side-bets with himself.
"Two years, max, they're sweet, but hopeless." He shrugged. "Hey, maybe this time I'll be wrong." But he wouldn't be. He never was. He waved to her as he left the shop.
He crossed the street, munching on his croissant and didn't really watch where he was going. He heard a car horn beep loudly and a shout and then a torpedo hit him from behind and he, and his breakfast went flying. He vaguely registered the horn blaring and a car whooshing past as he lay flat, face first on the road.
"Are you okay?" He heard the question from a distance and mentally reviewed his body. He hurt everywhere.
He looked down at the asphalt and slowly rolled over, assisted by his rescuer's strong hands. "Um, yeah, I think…" his voice trailed off as he looked up into dark brown eyes, filled with concern.
"Hey." The stranger spoke again and Adam struggled to focus. "Don't fade on me, man. Come on; let's see if you can stand up." He pushed himself to his feet and offered Adam a hand. Still slightly dazed, Adam grabbed the hand and stood. And then promptly collapsed against his saviour. Strong arms went around him and Adam realised that his new friend was considerably shorter than him.
"You okay?" the little guy asked again and Adam mumbled something that sounded like a yes. "Let's get you out of the road and have a look at the damage." The guy was chatty as he helped Adam hobble over to the bench on the sidewalk.
He sat down and felt every muscle scream in protest. His wince must have given him away because Rescue Boy was crouched in front of him in a second, running his hands the length of Adam's calves and thighs and oh…that could be awkward. He squeaked a bit and flailed his hands. "I'm okay! Really!"
The frown on the awfully pretty face was doubtful. "I don't know, man. I hit you pretty hard."
Adam glared at him. "I'm not a Powder Puff girl!" Where the hell had that come from?
It didn't daunt his new friend though who grinned at him and held out a hand. "Kris."
Adam automatically took it and hissed when Kris' skin hit the torn flesh of his palms. "Ouch! Fuck! Adam. Fuck! Nice to meet you." And felt his heart just float out of his chest His mom had always told him that he'd know when he met the right guy.
"So, Adam fuck Adam, do I need to get you to the emergency room?" Kris' smile was gentle but his eyes were concerned.
Adam shook his head. "No. I'm okay thanks. My apartment is just over there," he waved a vague hand; "I'll go and put some anti-septic cream on my hands and lie in a hot bath for about a year. I'll be fine."
That smile again. "I'll just tag along if you don't mind. Just to make sure you're okay?" Kris' brown eyes twinkled a bit. "You know what they say about if you save a life then that life belongs to you."
Adam raised an eyebrow. "So I belong to you then?"
Kris flushed. "Maybe?" He said it like a question but his eyes told a different story. Adam was okay with that.
He stood up and heading for his building, looking around once to make sure that Kris was still with him. He was.
Have you ever thrown a fist full of glitter in the air?
Adam kept wanting to glance back like Orpheus in the underworld, wanting to make sure that his long lost love was following. It made him feel a little pathetic but he reckoned he was entitled to be a little pathetic after his near death experience.
The stairs proved problematic. He just wasn't going to make it up there in this condition, so at the first floor he knocked on Neil's door.
He heard his brother cursing and when the door swung open, Neil was trying to get his shirt on. He took in Adam's dishevelled appearance and pulled the door open further. "What the fuck happened?"
Adam limped in and Kris replied, "Adam took on a car in a game of Oblivious Chicken and the car won."
Adam swung to glare at him and gritted, "Adam was attacked by a pocket-sized missile and taken down like a girl." Kris just grinned at him.
Neil swivelled his head between the two of them. "Am I missing something?"
Kris smirked. "He belongs to me now." He jerked a thumb at Adam who rolled his eyes.
Neil turned to Adam and stated, "I have missed something."
Adam headed for Neil's bathroom, calling back over his shoulder, "Kris here smashed into me and fed me to the road on the pretext of saving me from the big bad car." He rummaged in Neil's cabinet and took out some cotton wool swabs, anti-septic cream and medicinal alcohol. Fuck, this was going to hurt.
Kris was introducing himself to Neil when he came back but he raced over to Adam as soon as he spotted him. "You got the stuff?" Adam mutely held out the supplies and Kris nudged him over to Neil's sofa. "This is gonna sting," he warned.
He poured some of the alcohol on a swab and moved to wipe Adam's palms. Adam hissed and Kris looked up at him. "I haven't even touched you yet!" he protested.
Adam stared down his nose at Kris. "I'm just getting prepared for it." And then squealed in pain as the swab hit his skin. "Fu-uu-uck!"
Neil was standing staring at them in fascination. "Are you sure you've only just met?" He shook his head in confusion. "Because it's like watching a comedy routine."
Adam could hear himself whining as Kris wiped at the scrapes on his palm. "Stop being such a baby." Kris told him sharply and Adam stuck his tongue out.
Neil came over and looked at the operation with interest. "So you saved Adam's life? Huh. Are you a doctor then?"
Kris looked up from his task and laughed. "Nope, although I have done some medical training. It was mandatory for the missionary trips."
"Missionary trips?" Adam asked, momentarily distracted from the blinding pain of his hands.
"Yeah, I spent some time in Africa and Asia with my church. Seeing how other people live and struggle, well," he shrugged, "it kind of makes your life look a bit indulgent and spoiled. It changed my life"
Of course he's a fucking saint. Adam felt his heart sink and then yelped again as Kris continued his efforts.
"So why did you stop with the missionary stuff?" Neil asked the question that Adam was dying to know the answer to. Plus it distracted him from the stinging of his hands.
Kris looked over at Neil and shrugged. "I don't know, I grew up, I guess, decided to get a job and settle down." He turned his gaze back down to Adam's hands.
"And what did you settle down to?" Adam's question was soft and Kris raised his eyes and they stared at each other for a charged moment.
"I went to college, got a degree in business administration and I'm the manager of my future father in law's company." Just like that, Adam felt his heart break. It was a sonic boom that he was sure the entire city heard.
He dropped his eyes and slowly pulled his hands away from Kris' and smiled wanly. "So, you're getting married then?" His voice sounded gritty, as though he was speaking through sand.
Kris nodded, still crouched in front of him. "Yeah, Katy and me are meeting with a wedding planner on Monday."
Adam heard Neil start laughing and he just knew that the universe had fucked him over. Again. "Oh, really? What's the name of your planner?" But he knew. That's how his life worked.
Kris frowned in confusion. "Um, I don't know, Lambert something?"
"Leave it to Lambert?" Neil asked helpfully, ignoring Adam's furious glare.
Kris looked surprised. "Yeah. How'd you know?" Adam stood and limped to Neil's kitchen and poured himself a glass of water while Neil filled Kris in.
"We're the Lamberts, Neil and Adam. Our parents, Leila and Eber are the other two Lamberts in the business." Neil sent a semi-sympathetic glance to Adam who grimaced and drank his water.
"Are you serious?" Kris was incredulous. "That's like the height of freaky." He looked over at Adam, wide-eyed and gorgeous.
Adam felt anger and regret pierce him and he suddenly wanted to get away from this perfect boy and his perfect skin and his perfect smile. "I'm going to head up to my apartment and shower." He grimaced. "I'm sort of nasty right now." He attempted a smile but Neil's expression told him he'd failed.
He held out his hand to Kris. "I guess I'd better say thanks for saving me and I'll see you on Monday?"
Kris shook his hand slowly, careful with the scrapes on his palm. "Are you sure you'll be okay going up the stairs?"
Adam shrugged. "I'll have to be, otherwise I'll have to borrow something of Neil's and that just isn't going to happen. Ever." Neil snorted a laugh.
"I'll help you…" Kris began but Adam shook his head.
"No, but thanks. I'll get my useless brother to help. You'd better go and see your…Katy, was it? I can't wait to meet her and tell her about her brave heroic fiancé." Adam was pretty proud of his self-control. What he actually wanted to do was throw himself on the ground, kicking and screaming with disappointment.
Neil took the hint and showed Kris to the door. "Thanks for rescuing my dumb brother. He's a pain in the ass most days, but I like having him around."
Kris left, with one last look back at Adam, eyes worried and dark. "Okay. If you're sure you'll be alright." He allowed Neil to hustle him out and Adam went to flop down on the sofa again.
Neil came back and looked down at him. "You are so fucking screwed."
Adam groaned, "Tell me something I don't know." He turned pathetic eyes up at his brother. "How does this happen to me?"
Neil sat down next to him, dropped a friendly arm over his shoulders. "You keep falling for the straight boys, brother. That's why it keeps happening."
Adam shrugged his arm off and whined, "I don't know that they're straight when I meet them."
Neil laughed, "You have the worst gaydar in the history of gay men."
Adam stood and hobbled to the door. "I really hate my life sometimes." He turned back to Neil and told him, "By the way, you're part of the baseball team for Anoop's charity thing next Saturday." He had the satisfaction of hearing Neil swearing as he closed the door and took about a hundred years to climb the stairs to his apartment.
Have you ever looked fear in the face and said I just don't care?
It was a tough day. Adam stayed in bed once he got to his apartment. He was in mourning for a relationship that had ended before it had even begun.
Monday seemed to agree with his mood. It dawned dark and dreary and every single muscle in Adam's body ached. He felt as if the car had actually hit him.
He spotted his mother at her desk when he got into the office and greeted her with a subdued, "Hi Mom."
Her absent greeting was not the sympathy he was looking for so he sighed heavily. Finally she looked up and gasped. "What on earth?"
"I had an accident." He wanted his mother's arms cuddling him and she didn't disappoint. She came over and wrapped him close.
"Baby!" He dropped his head onto her shoulder, wilting into her, and sighed again. "What happened?"
He mumbled the story and she made all the appropriate noises. A snort from the doorway told him that Neil had arrived. "Did he tell you that he fell in lust with his rescuer and then discovered that Kris, that's his name by the way, had both a fiancée and an appointment with him this morning?"
Adam sent a death glare at him from Leila's shoulder. "Asshole."
"Drama Queen." It was an old argument that usually descended into shoving and occasionally biting but Leila nipped it in the bud.
"Your Kris is actually a client?" Straight to the heart of the matter and Adam nodded his head feebly against her shoulder. "Oh baby, you sure know how to pick them." She petted his hair and then pushed him away.
He gave her a kiss and headed to his office, Neil trailing after him. "So did you hear from your boyfriend yet?"
Adam snarled and lowered himself gingerly into his chair. "If we weren't related and I thought I could get away with it, I would kill you."
Neil sniggered. "You and what army? You're moving like a geriatric. I think Grandpa with his walker could beat you up right now."
Adam flipped him the bird and opened his diary. "Fuck off. I have work." Neil left him, still laughing. He was still convinced they'd sent the wrong baby home from the hospital with his mother.
Then Kris arrived with his pretty blond Katy and Adam played the perfect wedding planner. He was charming and helpful and understanding and Katy declared that if she wasn't going to marry Kris, she would have grabbed him up. "But I have a girlfriend that I really think you'll like," she told him.
He laughed. "That's very thoughtful of you, but girls aren't really my type, sweetheart. I prefer them a little less female, if you get what I mean?" He waggled his eyebrows to show that he wasn't offended.
Katy giggled, musical and infectious and Adam really wanted to hate her, but he couldn't because she was a darling girl and stupid in love with Kris. "You hide the gay so very well," she assured him and they both shared a laugh.
Kris had sat there like a lump, contributing nothing and looking increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation. "Do you really need me here?" he asked and Katy stared at him, hurt written all over her face.
"Don't you want to be part of the arrangements, honey?" Her voice was low and a little wobbly.
Kris immediately got this panicked look on his face and Adam had to look down to hide his grin. It seemed that women the world over were taught this kind of emotional blackmail. "Of course I do! I meant I'm not really doing anything. I'm just sitting here."
Katy's lip quivered and Kris caved. "Fine! What do you need me to do?" His voice was resigned and Adam didn't stop the laugh this time.
"Straight boys are so easy," he told Katy who giggled again, threatened tears miraculously dried up.
She replied sweetly, squeezing Kris' hand. "They are, aren't they?"
Kris glared at both of them. "You two are going to gang up on me aren't you?" Adam and Katy shared a look and nodded simultaneously. Kris groaned, "I am so screwed." They exchanged another glance, triumphant and Kris pointed at them. "I saw that!"
"You were supposed to." Adam assured him with a grin.
Kris wrinkled his nose at him. "You're obviously feeling much better."
Katy looked at Kris. "What? Do you know each other? Have you guys met before?"
Adam raised an eyebrow. "You mean your Prince Charming didn't tell you that he rescued me from certain death?"
Katy shook her head. "No. This sounds intriguing. Do tell." Adam obliged, embellishing on the drama of the moment a bit but thoroughly charmed by the increasingly flushed cheeks of the man in the chair opposite him.
Kris rubbed the back of his neck and begged, "Come on Adam, it wasn't that big of a deal. Stop with the exaggerating."
Katy grinned at him. "You're like the most perfect man in the world. Saving strangers and then keeping quiet about it." She jumped out of her chair and plopped herself on Kris' lap, arms entwined around his neck. "Have I told you lately just how much I love you?"
She leaned in and kissed him and he smiled into her mouth. "You could never tell me enough, honey." Adam tried to control the gag reflex. Yeah, the universe seriously hated him right now. He just had to figure out what he'd done wrong so that karma would stop fucking with him.
But they were adorable together, two little shiny pocket people, and he really couldn't hate them. "So, have you thought about a venue?" he asked them and was faced with identical expressions of panic. "I guess that means no?"
He spent the next fifteen minutes suggesting various venues but what Katy liked, Kris hated and when Kris pointed somewhere out, Katy nixed it. "Right, I can see that I am going to have to do a whole lot more research to find something that suits the two of you." He looked at Katy. "You want something big and open for lots of people." Then he turned to Kris. "And you want something natural and bright and sort of homey?" The both nodded. "Okay then. Leave it with me, I'll find something."
Katy looked at him doubtfully. "Are you sure?"
Adam nodded confidently. "It's what I do, baby. I am very good at what I do."
Katy pecked him on the cheek and told him, "I think this might be the start of a beautiful friendship." Adam didn't want to smile but she was kind of like an irresistible force that just wouldn't let him dislike her.
Kris shook his hand, still careful with the scrapes on his palm. "Thanks man, knowing that you're in control of this whole thing is making me feel a lot better."
He nodded to Neil as he left Adam's office. "Hey Neil, nice to see you again." And they left in a whirlwind of smiles and sunshine.
Adam slumped in his chair, miserable. "I must have done something really bad in the past to be punished like this."
Neil laughed, "Yeah, probably all those times you stuck my head in the toilet. Payback's a bitch big brother."
Adam snarled at him and then his mother walked in, cuffed Neil on the head and ordered, "Stop teasing your brother."
Neil gaped at her. "He started!" Adam opened his mouth to protest but Leila just gave him 'the look'. You know the one that all mother's perfect? The look that strikes terror in your heart while you frantically try to think of excuses for whatever it is that she thinks you've done wrong.
"They seem sweet." Her voice was casual, eyes anything but.
Adam nodded. "Yeah, they are. She's like the female version of him. Except that she sounds like she swallowed a canister of helium." He felt bad immediately. There was really no need for him to hate Katy apart from the fact that she was marrying the boy of his dreams. "Sorry. That was mean. She's lovely. They suit each other."
Neil watched him closely. "Odds on them working?" he asked.
Adam shook his head. "I'll need to spend more time with them. It's too early to tell." But deep inside he thought that they could possibly be the exception to his cynical rule. They really seemed like a match made in heaven.
It's only half past the point of no return
It always amazed Adam how someone the size of Brad could take up so much space in a room. He'd arrived home that evening to find his ex boyfriend waiting for him, along with Cassidy, a friend of Adam's and Brad's boyfriend for the past year.
Brad and Cass were sitting against his front door, leaning on one another, all legs and arms and leather, probably scandalising all the neighbours in the process. They both looked up at him as he stood over them, hands planted on his hips.
Brad complained, "It's about fucking time you got here, princess. We were about to shock Aunty Ethel over there with some nc-17 rated PDA." He grinned up at him lazily and Adam felt a small pang that he suspected would never go away.
"Why are you here anyway?" he asked and helped them both up.
They followed him into his apartment where Cass kissed his cheek and Brad planted a sloppy kiss on the corner of his mouth. "We want to know more about this charity drive Anoop called us about. It sounds suspiciously like an actual sporting event." The only person more allergic to sports than he was; was Brad.
Cass grinned. "I told him we could design some killer team uniforms, but he wasn't buying it."
Adam grinned back and then sighed. "Yeah, it's a baseball game. We're playing for a children's cancer clinic against a team from Danny's Dreams."
Brad's eyes narrowed. "That's the asshole who told the local paper that just because you were gay didn't mean you had taste, right?"
Adam shrugged. "It backfired on him. He looked like a dick and is trying to make up for it." He saw the stubborn set of Brad's jaw. "Hey, I'm the one he insulted. If I'm okay with it, then you need to let it go."
Cass stroked a hand down Brad's arm, soothing him. "Honey, don't let the Dannys of the world get to you. There are more important battles to be fought."
Brad pecked him on the mouth and smiled. "Thank God I have you, my little voice of reason." The fact that Cass was about a head taller than Brad made Adam smile.
"Anyone for a glass of wine?" he asked, heading for the kitchen. They both said yes and Adam brought out a bottle of chilled Chardonnay and three glasses. "So, are you in?"
Brad nodded. "Yes, we'll participate. But I really don't like the idea of running and getting all sweaty. Maybe I can hire a runner?" Adam started laughing and picked up his phone to call Anoop.
"You'd better be calling to tell me that you're going to be there on Saturday." Anoop didn't bother with the pleasantries of 'hello' or 'how are you'; he got right down to it immediately.
"Yes, General Desai, Corporals Brad, Cassidy, Adam and Neil are ready and willing." Adam paused, "Well, perhaps not willing, but we're ready to serve on the front lines."
"Ask him about the runner," Brad hissed and Adam obeyed. He waited for two minutes for Anoop to stop laughing.
"Will there be boys in shorts?" Cassidy asked and Adam repeated the question. Anoop hung up on him.
"Well, that was rude." Brad muttered.
"That's Anoop." Adam shrugged and then picked up the menu for the local Chinese take-out. "You guys want to order in?" They both agreed and Adam called Neil who told him he'd be up there in a bit. Adam called the restaurant and spent ten minutes trying to place the order while Cass and Brad kept changing their minds. Eventually he ordered what he felt like eating and told them that they would have to eat whatever he'd decided on. There was a lot of pouting. He ignored it all.
Neil arrived at the same time as their food and they spent the next couple of minutes happily dividing up food. Adam loved the fact that his completely straight brother was so supremely comfortable with a group of gay men. It was one of the many things that made him proud of Neil, not that he'd ever tell the fathead.
"So, did Adam tell you about his brush with death?" Neil asked around a chopstick scoop of noodles.
Brad and Cassidy's eyes went wide with shock and interest. "No! You nearly died?" Brad asked and Adam rolled his eyes.
"No. I did not nearly die. Thanks to the timely actions of a stranger, I am still here to tell the tale." He glared at Neil who grinned at him. What the hell had he been thinking a moment ago about being proud of him? Neil was an asshole.
"Yeah, and Scrappy Doo, his rescuer, was this cute little twinky guy, just Adam's type and there was all sorts of chemistry." Neil offered with his mouth full. Adam concentrated hard on the moo goo gai pan in the container in front of him.
"Tell me more." Brad ordered and Cass went off on a 'Grease' riff that served as a distraction, but not for long. Brad pointed at Neil with a chopstick. "Details, boy-o"
Neil obliged. "It's been a long time since I've seen Adam so interested. This guy, Kris was really nice too."
"Colour me fascinated." Brad murmured. "So when is the first date?" He looked over at Adam, one satanic brow raised.
Adam just stuffed another chopstick-full in his mouth. Neil was more than happy to answer Brad. "Turns out, he doesn't play for your team. He's getting married and guess who his wedding planners are?" He paused dramatically.
"Leave it to Lambert?" Cass supplied and Neil crowed.
"Score one for the gay guy!" Cass and Neil bumped fists and Adam had a vision of what Saturday was going to be like. It wasn't pretty.
Brad looked at Adam pityingly. "You really have the worst gaydar in the history of ever, precious."
Adam protested, "Hey, maybe it's because I'm bi-curious, maybe it confuses the gaydar."
Brad's expression grew even sadder. "The only bi you are, angelcakes, is bipedal. You may not look queer all the time, but you are totally one of the gang."
Neil was snorting into his noodles and Adam kicked him in the ankle. "Have I told you recently just how much I wish I was an only child?"
Neil just carried on laughing and Adam gave up. Sometimes, it really wasn't worth the aggravation.
"So, petal, when are you going to see Super Straight again?" And that set Neil and Cassidy off into peals of laughter all over again. Adam stalked to the kitchen in disgust to collect another bottle of wine. He really needed a better quality circle of friends. He's start working on that tomorrow.
Brad came up behind him. "Sorry about the teasing, you know we can't help ourselves." He bumped gently against Adam's shoulder. "He got to you huh?"
Adam glanced at Brad out of the corner of his eye. "Yeah, I had a moment there. You know, everything in me sort of recognised him." He shook his head in disgust. "That sounds stupid."
Brad rubbed a comforting hand in a circle on his back. "No it doesn't, sweetheart, it sounds like the closet romantic you are."
Adam glared at him. "I am not a closet romantic. I am a cynical bastard." He really was.
Brad grinned. "You are the hearts and flowers type, baby, always have been. You're waiting for your Prince Charming to come and promise you forever. It's why you're still in the wedding business."
Adam shook his head. "I'm not." He looked at Brad in horror. "Am I?"
Brad nodded. "You are. That's why you and I would never have lasted. I'm far too much of a bitter bitch to keep your sweet self happy." He smiled and looked towards the lounge. "That's why Cass and I work. He's as awful as I am."
Adam sighed and leaned back against the kitchen counter. "I really thought that he was the one. It was like a light went off in my brain."
Brad shrugged. "I don't believe in love at first sight, honey. I am the last person to advise you on the situation. And for God's sake don't ask Neil or Cassidy."
Adam laughed and said, "Well, I'll be seeing them on Wednesday again. Another meeting to discuss the wedding." He rolled his shoulders. "I guess I'll just have to work on my blank face."
Brad laughed and tucked his hand into Adam's elbow. "You have no poker face, dollface. You're an open book."
Adam narrowed his eyes. "I can totally be Fu Manchu." They headed back into the lounge, arguing all the way. It was a good way to spend a Monday evening.
The tip of the ice burg The sun before the burn
Wednesday was insane. Adam was dealing with Bridezilla when he spotted Kris coming into the reception area. His heart stopped and then he saw Neil take Kris through to his mother's office and started panicking.
He needed to get rid of his current client as quickly as possible to avert the interrogation Kris was sure to face. He looked at his client and stated, "Kara, the dress you want to wear was designed for a twenty year old virgin, not a forty something divorcee getting married for the third time." He ignored her gasp of shock and continued, "You pay me a lot of money to advise you on this sort of thing. Trust me. It's not the dress for you."
Kara stood up and flounced out of the office, slamming the door behind her. Adam knew she'd be back. Frankenbride always came back. He rubbed at the crease between his eyes and headed for his mother's office.
Kris was sitting opposite her and they were laughing. Adam heaved a sigh of relief. "Hey!" He was gratified to note that his mother looked a little guilty when she saw him and Kris' smile grew wider.
"Hi Adam." Kris jumped up and came towards him, hand extended. Adam got the impression that Kris was a handsy sort of guy and made a mental note to make sure that he kept a professional distance at all times. "I was just telling your mom here that Katy won't be able to make it today. She's auditioning for some TV series and asked me to come and see you alone." His face grew anxious. "Is that okay? I mean, I know it's supposed to be all about the bride, but I reckon I can't screw up too much in one session, right?"
Adam told his stupid heart to ignore the charming smile and concentrate on the job at hand. "Yes, of course that will be fine. I've scheduled us to go and see a couple of venues today if that's alright with you? Maybe we can take some photos and you can show Katy tonight and then let me know if I'm on the right track?"
Kris beamed and nodded. "Awesome! At least we can get outside for a bit." He turned to Leila. "Thanks for keeping me company, Mrs Lambert; I can see why your business is so successful." Adam rolled his eyes and headed out of the door, Kris trailing him. His mother was left blushing and smiling. Kris Allen, charming the Lambert clan one person at a time.
"So, where to first?" Kris asked as they walked out to Adam's car.
"I thought we'd try the unusual first and then work our way down from there," Adam told him and pushed the car remote.
The beep of the Mustang's doors drew Kris' attention and he gazed at Adam's pride and joy with reverence. "You drive a Mustang?" He looked over at Adam who smiled and nodded. "I might ditch Katy for you and your car." Adam felt his heart skip a beat and sternly told it to behave itself.
"Be careful, I might take you up on that," he warned jokingly and went around to the driver's side. "In case you didn't know, you're totally my type." Pity his mouth wasn't as obedient as his heart; he thought and wanted to face plant against the steering wheel.
Kris didn't say anything, just slid into the passenger seat and buckled up. Adam apologised, "I'm really sorry. I have no filter. My mouth is engaged long before my brain is in gear."
Kris looked at him quickly, a little flushed, and then looked away. "That's okay. I know you were joking." Adam didn't miss the small twitch on the side of Kris' mouth and wondered.
"Oh, I'm perfectly serious about you being my type, it was just inappropriate of me to say anything about it." Adam smiled briefly and Kris smiled back, tentative and shy.
Adam started the car and headed out. The silence was weighted and then Kris asked, curiosity in his voice, "Are you serious about me being your type?"
Adam nearly drove into the back of the car in front of him. He looked over at Kris in astonishment. "Yeah. I meant it, but this isn't the sort of conversation I normally have with straight boys." He shook his head. "You might just be one of a kind, Kris Allen."
Kris grinned at him. "You're sort of pretty, for a guy, I mean." Then he blushed. "Shit. I'm not normally like this either."
Adam took a deep breath. "And on that note, let's talk about the first venue that I'm going to take you to see, okay?"
Kris nodded. "Yeah, probably safest."
The thunder before lightning and the breath before the phrase
Adam started telling him about Lobo Castle in Agoura Hills. "It's almost like being in Europe in LA. It's pretty cool and they have their own catering which is great. It's really romantic and it's in the hills which means the views are awesome."
Kris shrugged. "I guess. It sounds pretty." Adam noted the distinct lack of enthusiasm.
They spent the ride over to the castle chatting idly about Kris' work. Adam discovered that Kris liked managing the stationary company but that his true love was music. Adam asked him about what his favourite music was and what he loved playing the most and time sped by until they reached the castle.
Adam couldn't remember spending that much time with someone that he liked and not doing something about it. He wasn't sure what that said about him but he might have sado-masochistic tendencies. But Kris was great fun, smart and snarky and surprisingly erudite about the world in general.
He was suitably impressed with Lobo Castle when they pulled up. "Wow. This is a whole lot more than just pretty," Kris breathed. Adam beamed at him and then waved at the castle director walking down the stairs towards them.
"Melissa!" The tall woman reached them and air-kissed Adam, smiling in pleasure.
"Adam, darling, it's been too long." She looked over at Kris. "The prospective groom, I presume?" At Kris' nod she turned on her tour guide mode, motioning them to follow her as she took them around the castle and then onto the surrounding grounds.
Adam watched Kris the entire time, trying to gauge his reaction. Kris smiled at all the right moments, took photos of everything, complimented the huge garden and courtyard and gazed in appreciation at the mountains in the background.
Melissa eventually finished her sales pitch and then said to Adam, "I'll leave the two of you to wander around by yourselves, shall I? I'll be in my office if you need me or else you can call me later." Adam hugged her and she went back into the castle.
Adam turned back to Kris and saw that he'd wandered over to the big swimming pool. He crouched down and swirled his hand through the bright water and Adam walked over to him.
"So, what do you think?" He asked and Kris looked up, a small grin on his face.
"It's really nice. I like that it's in a garden but it still feels fancy. Katy will like it." He looked down again, following the movement of his hand in the water. "I just don't know if it's me."
Adam sat down on one of the loungers, hands dangling between his knees and asked Kris, "How important is it to you that you absolutely love the venue? Is it more important than Katy loving it?" He cocked his head to one side and stared at Kris, who was resolutely not looking at him. "Kris?"
Kris eventually raised his eyes again and Adam noticed a hesitance, a fear in those pretty brown eyes. "I don't know." He shook his head, "I want her to be happy. I mean, I want to marry Katy. I do." Adam thought it sounded more like Kris was trying to convince himself of it. "It's time, you know? We've been together since we were sixteen so we know that we're right for each other. It's just…" he trailed off.
"Just what?" Adam prompted and Kris shrugged.
"I shouldn't be telling you this sort of stuff. You're my wedding planner, for Pete's sake, not my priest." Kris rolled his shoulders like he was trying to ease tension.
"I can be your friend too." Adam offered softly and watched the flicker of something in Kris' eyes. "If you need one."
Kris rubbed the back of his neck and ducked his head. "You can never have too many friends." He sent a sly look up at Adam. "But that means you'd have to take my side when Katy goes crazy."
Adam laughed and held out a hand. "Deal. Come on, let's head out, there are a couple more places I want to show you."
Kris allowed himself to be hauled to his feet and stumbled a bit, falling against Adam. He stayed there for a moment, pressed close in the late morning sunshine and Adam felt his heart jump.
He was the first to pull away and led them out of the castle grounds, back to the car. "Next stop is The Condor's Nest Ranch," he informed Kris with a grin. "I think this might be more your kind of place."
Have you ever felt this way?
The Condor's Nest Ranch was also nestled at the foot of the mountains, but there the similarities with Lobo Castle ended. It was rural and rustic and Kris fell in love with it on sight.
Adam watched him spinning in a wide circle, taking in the mountains and the ocean and the forests, all visible in a 360 degree panorama.
"This is insane!" Kris flung his arms open and spun under the sky. "I love this place!"
Adam laughed; Kris looked about ten, eyes bright and smile wide. "I thought you might. It's a 'Kris' place."
Kris raced up to Adam and threw his arms around him in an enthusiastic hug. "It's perfect!" he exclaimed and let Adam go before he even registered that he'd been hugged. Kris was a sneaky little bastard.
Adam quickly realised that Kris had no notion of personal space or boundaries. Kris was the touchy and demonstrative sort and Adam was aching and frustrated and reluctantly charmed.
"It's BYO here." Adam warned and Kris wrinkled his nose.
"Bring Your Own." Adam explained. "Catering, cutlery, alcohol, we'd have to organise it all ourselves."
"Not a problem" Kris declared and then looked at Adam for confirmation. "Right?"
Adam laughed again. "Right," and flinched as Kris tackle-hugged him again. "Only thing is, this isn't really what Katy was looking for."
Kris shrugged. "I think she'll love it." Privately, Adam doubted it but followed Kris as he enthusiastically took photos of cacti and the ranch house and cottage where people could even stay over for the weekend if they wanted to. He thought Katy might not like the desert. She liked her things pretty and civilized. He could tell.
"Okay," he called eventually. "Let's go. One more place and I think it might tick all of your boxes. Katy's too."
Kris shot him a grin and said, "It can't be better than this." He sounded pretty sure of it and Adam decided to take that as a personal challenge.
"We'll see about that." Adam crooked a finger. "Come on, Happy Gilmore, we're burning daylight." Kris snorted with laughter and they headed out.
Have you ever hated yourself for staring at the phone?
Adam knew he'd hit the jackpot as soon as they pulled up at Rancho del Diablo Dormido. Kris' mouth dropped open. The Spanish style mission home roosted proudly on the top of a hill, over looking a huge meadow that looked like something from a fairytale.
"Oh. My. God." Kris breathed and was out of the car before Adam had even pulled to a complete stop. He stood in the middle of the meadow, staring around at the carpet of flowers surrounded by acres of trees. He looked back at Adam. "You were right. This is it."
Adam felt a twinge of sadness but composed his face. "I thought so." He smiled and watched as Kris started snapping shots of the nearby paddocks, the surrounding hills and the sheer beauty of the place.
"It means Ranch of the Sleeping Devil." Kris told him, coming back to stand next to him and they spent a moment, just soaking in the peace.
Adam nodded. "I know." Then his phone rang and he looked at the caller id and pulled a face. "Hey Anoop. How are you?"
"Just making sure you aren't coming down with any sort of disease before Saturday." Anoop replied dryly.
Adam laughed. "I hadn't thought about it but now that you mention it."
Anoop threatened, "I know your mother, dude." And that was really threat enough.
"I hate sports." Adam whined.
"Tough." Anoop said, unmoved. "Baseball barely counts as a sport. Think of the children."
Adam pulled a tongue at the phone and caught Kris staring. He flushed and muttered, "I'd rather just give the children a big fat check and save myself the humiliation of playing a ball sport."
Anoop snorted. "You should be awesome at ball sports. You've had a lot of practise."
"Asshole. I need better friends." Adam noticed Kris waving at him. "Hold on a moment. Yeah?" he asked.
"Are you doing some sort of charity thing on Saturday?" Kris asked.
"Yeah, my friend Anoop has organized a baseball game against a team from a rival company. A rival to his company that his. I've been roped in." He glared down at the phone again. "I'm not sure how this keeps happening."
"Can I come?" The question took Adam by surprise and Kris quickly grabbed his phone with an apologetic quirk of his mouth. "Hi, Anoop? This is Kris Allen. I just wanted to know if you needed more bodies on Saturday." He smiled at whatever Anoop said. "That's great! I'll get the details from Adam then?" He nodded. "Yeah, it was real nice talking to you too." And he handed the phone back to Adam who accepted it in a daze.
"He sounds like a nice guy." Anoop commented.
"He is." Adam said and watched as Kris wandered over towards the nearest paddock. "He's a client."
"Oh." A pause and then Anoop asked, "Is that a problem?"
Adam shook his head. "No. It's only awkward in that I have a raging crush on him but otherwise it's perfectly fine."
Anoop cleared his throat. "When you start with the sarcasm like that then I know it's time to say goodbye." And he hung up. Adam sighed. More time with pretty Kris was not going to help his situation at all.
Kris beamed at him. "I love being involved with charities and stuff like that. I haven't had a chance since we moved here. Thanks man, I appreciate it."
Adam sighed again and then attempted a smile. "That's great. The more the merrier!"
Maybe he wasn't that successful because Kris' face fell. "Oh. Did I horn in on something private?" He sounded as though someone had just killed his puppy and Adam shook his head.
"No. It's good. Really, glad to have you on board." Like mist the sad disappeared and Kris bounced on the balls of his feet as they headed back to the Mustang.
"This has been just an epic day. Found my wedding venue, got a charity baseball game to look forward to," he glanced at Adam out of the corner of his eye, "Made a new friend."
Adam laughed and genially slung an arm over Kris' shoulder. He tucked in against him immediately, completely ignoring any personal space issues. "Stick with me kid, I'll show you signs and wonders."
Your whole life waiting on the ring to prove you're not alone
Katy called Adam the next day, babbling with delight. The Ranch was perfect and she asked him to book it for August 23rd. He arranged for a meeting with a bridal boutique for that Saturday after checking with her whether she wanted to join them for the baseball game.
"Oh no! That's not my scene at all!" she told him with a giggle. "Kris is the one who is into the do-gooder stuff. Me, I just like spending money."
Adam had to laugh at her cheerfully mercenary attitude. "So you're okay with Kris coming with me on Saturday and you trying on wedding gowns by yourself?"
She giggled again. "Of course that's fine with me! Keeping my fiancé distracted while I plan the wedding of the year is all part of the wedding planner's official duties."
Adam chuckled. "So I am to be used and abused?"
Her laugh was genuinely pleased, "If you don't mind?"
He said, "I don't mind." Which was sort of a lie but kind of the truth too? He wanted to spend more time with Kris but he knew that if he did, the chances of him getting hurt got exponentially bigger.
He said goodbye to Katy and walked to Neil's office. "Hey, want to go and grab lunch today?"
Neil looked up. "Sorry, bro, no can do, I have back to backs today." Neil was the photographer for 'Leave it to Lambert' and often spent days with couples long before the actual wedding to get candid photos. "I'm actually booked with your people this afternoon," he told Adam.
"Kris and Katy?" Neil nodded and Adam shook his head. "I'm not going to escape him, am I?"
Neil's expression was half sympathy, half taunt. "Not until August, anyway." Adam waved when Neil's phone started ringing and headed out.
Eber bumped into him as he was leaving. "Going anywhere exciting?" he asked.
"Nope." Adam said, "Just going to get something to eat."
"Want some company?" his father asked and Adam nodded.
"Yeah, actually, that would be great." He didn't get the chance to spend one on one time with his dad nearly enough. They wandered down the road to the local market and Adam allowed his father to choose where they would eat. Thai was the selection of the day, they placed their orders and went to sit at one of the tables in the small courtyard.
"So, why the long face?" Eber never beat around the bush with his sons He hadn't since the day he had caught Adam looking at gay porn on the internet at fourteen. He'd always said that keeping up with his kids required honesty, intelligence and balls of steel. Neil had always said that two out of three wasn't bad.
Adam propped his chin on his hand and eyed his father. "Have you ever wanted something you know you can't have?" he asked.
Eber nodded. "Often. It's called envy, avarice, being human. Take your pick."
Adam grinned and tried again. "What about wanting someone you know you can't have?"
Eber took a sip of his iced tea and pursed his mouth. "On a scale of one to ten, how unavailable?"
Adam frowned. "About a ten. He's getting married. To a girl." Their food arrived and they spent the next few minutes eating.
Eber pointed at him with a fork. "Is he gay? Or at least bi?"
Adam shrugged. "I have no idea. My gaydar is on the fritz according to everyone. I wouldn't have a clue." He smiled. "He likes me though."
Eber shook his head. "That doesn't count, son, everyone likes you."
Adam beamed at his father. He took these sorts of moments and hoarded them away like diamonds to bring out and polish every now and then. They were that rare. "Thanks Dad."
Eber waved it away. "Let's focus on the issue at hand. You have the hots for a guy who is getting married to a girl and you're not sure what to do because you don't know if he's gay or not?"
Adam grimaced, put like that it sounded a little pathetic. "Yeah."
Eber glared at him. "What is it with you? You always fall for the wrong guys."
Adam thanked God every day for the acceptance he received from his parents. They spoke about his boyfriends with the same reverence (or disdain) as they spoke about Neil's girlfriends. In their minds, there was no difference.
"I can't help it. He's gorgeous and sweet and funny and a little snarky and you're going to be nuts about him about two minutes after meeting him." Adam knew his father. He'd never completely warmed to Brad but he had tried very hard. He would really like Kris though. "Why don't you come to the game on Saturday? You can meet him then."
Eber raised an eyebrow. "He's going to Anoop's charity game?"
Adam nodded. "It was awesome. He sort of invited himself. I don't know of anyone else who has just steamrolled Anoop like that."
Eber laughed. "Then I definitely have to meet this paragon of manhood"
Adam laughed too. "You'd better be prepared to play though. Anoop takes no prisoners."
Eber smiled evilly. "Your preppy friend doesn't know who he's dealing with. He'd better not try to outwit me. I am an anarchist."
Adam rolled his eyes. "Whatever. I don't know of any anarchists who wear pure wool suits and silk ties."
Eber raised his upper lip in a snarl. "I'm in disguise. That's how you fool the Man, by pretending to be the Man."
Adam stood up and tossed his containers in the trash. "You carry on telling yourself that. I don't know who is more pathetic, you trying to relive the seventies or Neil's feud with the LA Times."
Eber laughed. "Oh, Neil is way more pathetic than me, my boy. I know my limitations and fight my battles in secret. Your brother however, hangs his ass out to dry in public, all the time."
They walked back to the office, discussing Neil's latest tirade to the city newspaper about the times set aside for street cleaning. It was another fight that Neil was bound to lose. Adam relished it.