Oliver came awake slowly to chaste kisses all over his face from his fiancee Mason. Humming softly he turned his face up and puckered his lips, Mason obliged him with a soft kiss there. He slowly opened his eyes to look into the deep brown pools of his lover, smiling softly. “I get to marry you tomorrow.”
Mason’s face split into a grin. “Believe me when I say, it feel like it has taken forever to get here!”
“I lo-” Oliver was interrupted by a pounding on the front door of their little cottage. It had to be someone they knew, because they lived five miles out of town. Rolling his eyes he climbed out of bed to throw some sweatpants on and answer the door. The knocking was getting more insistent with every passing second so he yelled, “Just a minute!”
As soon as he unlocked the deadbolt, his mother pushed her way into the house. The woman was controlling with a capital C, and barely left the two men alone to sleep at night. The wedding was a little over twenty-four hours away, and she had gone completely nuts for the last week. Oliver rubbed his hands down his face with a, “Won’t you come in Mother?”
Ester Horton looked over her son’s appearance with a calculating eye. “Why aren’t you dressed? We have last minute details to go over before the wedding tomorrow. Where is Mason, he needs to help.”
“Last minute details? Mother it is a small ceremony in the back yard!” Oliver sank onto the couch putting his face in his hands.
“Pish, as if I would let you just get married in your backyard.” Sitting down next to Oliver, Ester smiled with glee as if she was giving him the best surprise ever. ”I booked you at the church in town, and invited both our herd and Mason’s tower to join us!”
“You did what?” Oliver began to hyperventilate. “Mason and I wanted a small wedding, mother. We have told you over and over.”
“Oliver! You don’t want to offend our whole herd do you!” Ester raised her voice to almost the point of a screech. “How would it look if my son did that?”
Mason chose that moment to walk in. “I know you mean well, Ester, but please remember that I don’t exactly get along with most of my tower. They cast me out for being gay.”
“But that was ages ago, and they all have responded they would love to be there. Maybe you can let bygones be bygones? If only for Olly’s sake.” Ester tried to turn the tables on Mason.
Oliver was so bewildered at this point, he could only look up respond with, “How long have you been planning to shanghai our wedding, Mom?”
“Oh I booked the church months ago as a surprise. I know what’s best for my boy, after all.” She reached over and grabbed Oliver’s hand.
“Ester, we planned the wedding the way we wanted it. How dare you just step in and change everything for our wedding day!” Mason was barely holding onto his shift, seeing Oliver look so stricken. He stomped over to the window and took deep breaths, clenching his teeth. “You probably had the best of intentions, but this is in no way what either of us wanted.”
“Oliver doesn’t know what he wants. He has always been more interested in his silly books and school work than being a part of the herd.” Ester sniffed, and turned menacing eyes on Mason. “I have always had to make sure he was taken care of.”
“It’s not for you to say anymore, Ester! He is my mate, and I am now in charge of his welfare.” Mason stared her down.
“I am his mother! It will always be my job to take care of him!” Ester stood up and walked to face Mason by the window. “Mate or not, he is my son!”
“And you are in my house, trying to take over my wedding!” Mason moved to the door, flinging it open and stalking outside. “I’m going to shift, please be gone when I get back.”
As soon as Mason left, Ester flopped down on the couch next to her son. “Well I never! As if he could tell me what is best for my own son. Gather your things, you are coming home with me. That giraffe doesn’t get to dictate things for us!”
Oliver’s head snapped up, eyes clear. “I’m not leaving, Mom.”
“What? Of course you are, we will find another Okapi for you to mate with.”
Oliver shook his head, staring at his mother as if seeing her for the first time. “No mom, Mason is my true mate. I will never want anyone but Mason. I can’t believe you would do this!”
“What do you mean, you can’t believe I would do this? Mason is trying to come between you and your herd!” Ester’s face had turned red, and she began to shake. Apparently Mason wasn’t the only one barely holding on to his animal.
Looking out the window, Oliver saw Mason’s giraffe headed to the open field they used to run. He took a deep breath, “Look Mom, I don’t want a big wedding, and I don’t care about the herd or what they think. That’s you. Mason is it for me, and you need to accept that. I ‘m not going to leave.”
“You would side with him, over your own family?” Ester walked to the door, as if to leave. “You’ll come to your senses, call me when you do.”
Watching his mother gather her purse and leave, Oliver almost cried in relief. When it came down to it, it took her taking over the wedding to realize that while she may have meant well, she only care about how everything looked to the herd, and impressing her friends. He stood and watched her car drive away from the front door of the cottage, then began to strip and walk around the house. He looked at the field and saw Mason eating from the trees, his back to the house, shifted and followed him.
When he had reached Mason, his lover had already shifted back to human form, leaning back against a tree, throwing pebbles at nothing. He pictured being human again, and soon he had feet where his hooves had been. “I’m so sorry, she had no right to do that.”
“Sweetheart,” Mason put his palm to Oliver’s cheek stroked his face. “I don’t blame you one bit, this was all your mother’s doing. Did she leave?”
“Yes, right after she tried to get me to leave with her.”
“She what!” Mason’s eye’s flashed to his giraffe’s. “She can’t interfere in a mating!”
“I know, and I told her I was never leaving my mate.” Oliver tried to soothe Mason. “I love you, Mase.”
“I love you too, Olly.” Mason took a deep breath. ‘But I don’t want to get married in that church tomorrow.”
“Me neither, so how do we handle this?” Oliver chewed his bottom lip.
“We run away and elope!” Mason turned his upper body towards Oliver. “Let’s go to Tahoe and get married on our terms!”
“Are you sure? Can we even afford that?” Oliver grabbed his hand looking hopeful.
“We will cancel our way too expensive honeymoon, and take our week off in Tahoe.” Mason stood and pulled Oliver up. “Let’s shift and head in. I will make the calls while you pack!”
The two men hurried through their shifts, and ran for the house. Mason was the first to get back, due to his long legs and he was dressing as Oliver arrived. Once they had dressed they headed inside, Mason making calls, and Oliver repacking their suitcases for a trip to Lake Tahoe. Mason rushed into the room, “It’s all set, our flight leaves in three hours from Portland! We need to go, do you have everything?”
Oliver was just zipping up the last suitcase. “All set, let’s hurry before my mother gets back!”
The two men rushed to Mason’s Jeep and drove the forty-five minutes to Portland. Once they made it through security and onto the plane, Oliver’s phone started ringing. He casually answered and told his mother he had left town for the week, hung up and turned his phone off. The plane finished boarding and they flew to Reno, driving the hour to the Tahoe Edgewater Resort. They found their room, put down their stuff and headed to a small lakeside chapel they had heard about.
As they stood, hands clasped in front of a justice of the peace, on a dock at sunset; They spoke their vows with strong clear voices. Pledging to love and cherish each other all the days of their life and beyond, the shared their first kiss as husbands as the sun sank slowly behind the mountains. They didn’t let go of each other’s hands as the ceremony, but walked hands clasped back down the dock, ready to face whatever came next.
Genevieve Wolfe currently lives in West Sacramento with her very supportive boyfriend and their two chameleons, Clyde and Karma. When she isn’t writing you will find her Face Timing with her daughter, Serra, reading or cooking some crazy thing she saw on Food Network. She has been writing poetry and short stories since high school, and was encouraged by a friend to try writing a book. Her first novel, Finding Julien, was published in 2016, with the second book soon to follow.