I Choose You
Rudy sat in the car, twisting his fingers together as he stared at the bed and breakfast before them. “I don’t think I can do this, Clay.”
Clay reached across the console and clasped Rudy’s cold hands, stopping their motion. “Yes, you can, babe. I’ll be with you every step of the way, you know that. No one will mess with you. I won’t allow it.”
His gaze slid from the beautiful building with the highly manicured lawn over to Clay’s. The smile was tentative but there.
“You won’t allow it?”
Giving Rudy’s fingers a firm squeeze, Clay nodded. “Damn straight.”
Giving the building one more hesitant look, Rudy sucked in a huge breath, and released it in a rush. “Okay, let’s do this.”
They climbed out of the car, and Clay immediately came around the hood to Rudy’s side. He pulled Rudy into a tight hug, rubbing his hands up and down Rudy’s back.
“Did I happen to tell you how hot you look in that suit?” He made sure to growl the next words low as he pressed his mouth to Rudy’s ear. “And how much I look forward to peeling you out of it later?” He gave Rudy’s earlobe a gentle tug with his teeth.
He heard Rudy’s gasp, as his hands snugly gripped the lapels of Clay’s own suit. He could feel the tension melt out of Rudy’s body as he sagged against Clay. Mission accomplished. Distraction successful. Clay brushed a kiss to Rudy’s lips, and turned him towards the walkway that ran alongside the B & B to the back where the wedding was being held.
People were arriving in a steady stream. The yard had been transformed and looked amazing. A huge white canopy sheltered the seats and the arch where the bride and groom would take their vows. A second canopy had tables and a raised portable dance floor. Fairy lights twinkled over everything. As the sun set and the lights became the only source of illumination, the festivities would take place under a simulated sea of stars.
“Wow. They really out did themselves, didn’t they?” Rudy looked around in awe. “Juno and Melissa couldn’t have chosen a better venue.”
Clay dropped his arm across Rudy’s shoulders as they made their way to the seating area. “You helped.”
Rudy shrugged a shoulder. “Just a little bit,” he admitted.
Before Clay could reply, a venom filled voice stopped them in their tracks.
“How dare you.”
A tall woman dressed in an obviously expensive pantsuit stalked up to them and stabbed Rudy in the chest with a finger. Clay heard Rudy’s grunt as the point of her painted nail left a deep indent in his shirt.
“How dare you show your face here? You have no right to attend this wedding.”
Rudy cringed away, pressing back against Clay and Clay could feel his cat rise to the surface. He hissed loudly, knocking her hand away. Beneath her perfume, she smelled like deer, not someone who should pick a fight with him.
“He has every right to attend his brother’s wedding. He was invited.” Clay growled at her.
Although she paled and took a step back at the sight of the predator before her, it didn’t stop her distain. “Not by me, he wasn’t. Juno is no brother to him!”
Rudy’s head jerked back as if he’d been slapped.
“You bitch! Who the hell do you think you are?”
“The mother of the groom.” She answered triumphantly.
So, this was the woman who had made Rudy’s childhood such a living hell. That explained the deer scent. The entire family was northern caribou or reindeer.
“Listen, lady. Last I heard it was the bride and groom who decided who came and who didn’t. And you might not be Rudy’s mother, thank God, but Juno is still Rudy’s brother. There is nothing you can do to change that.”
Rudy’s father had an affair and Rudy was the result of it. No one had wanted the boy until his grandfather had stepped in to take him. His father’s wife and sons had tormented Rudy mercilessly, despite his grandfather’s best attempts to try to get them to get along.
She pointed that damned finger at Rudy again, her voice becoming more and more shrill. “This piece of trash is not welcome and needs to be tossed out. Tripper, Rai!” She called. “Remove this…this thing, immediately.”
By this point, they had a rapt audience as every face turned towards them. Two men stepped up, one on either side of the red faced woman. Clay tensed, ready for an attack. Rudy looked from one to the other and turned in Clay’s arms.
“Don’t.” Rudy gripped Clay’s wrists.
Clay’s claws were extended and he was more than willing to take on anyone that would try to hurt his love. Not going to happen. He stared down at the two men, his lips curled back over his sharp teeth.
“We are ruining Juno’s wedding. Let’s just go. I knew this would be a mistake. We should never have come.” Rudy said quietly, glancing nervously around them. People had risen from their seats in alarm, watching the confrontation taking place before them.
“Well, I’m happy to have you here.” A familiar male voice broke into the noise.
“Juno?” Clay looked over Rudy’s shoulder as the groom and his two groomsmen approached. Juno, Halley and Dixon were the only half-brothers of Rudy’s that didn’t care about the circumstances of his birth and over the last few months had become close friends.
“Hi, Rudy. Clay. Glad you could make it.” Juno clapped both of them on the arms before turning to his mother.
“Mother, will you please stop causing a scene at my wedding and sit the hell down.”
“I will not sit down until this person leaves.” The way she said person sounded like she had just stepped in dog poop, wrinkled nose and all.
“I didn’t want to do this here but if you insist on this behavior…”
“Juno, what the hell are you talking about? Get that useless waste of air to leave.”
Clay felt the angry yowl boil out of his chest. He vaguely registered the cries of fright around him. One of the men flanking the woman stepped forwards.
“Don’t try it cat. I’m a reindeer and I have several sharp daggers for horns. You won’t win against me.”
Juno turned on his brother, punching him in the arm. “Damn it, Rai! Clay is a snow leopard. His kind eats reindeer for breakfast, you idiot. You do not want to mess with him.”
Rai’s eyes widened as his gaze snapped back to Clay’s. Clay bared his impressive fangs once more. “That’s right, you idiot. I can easily take down an adult reindeer in its prime.” The words were a bit garbled because of his teeth but clear enough.
“But not several of us,” piped up the other idiot brother.
Juno rounded on him. “I’ve got news for you Trip. Me, Halley and Dixon would stand with Clay and Rudy. You’d lose.”
“In a heartbeat.”
Rudy’s jaw dropped and he leaned harder against Clay. Snarling at the three facing off at them, he gathered Rudy’s trembling body close to his.
“Why? What did he ever do for you?”
“Are you both really so blinded by mom’s poison? Rudy has never done a damn thing to hurt you. In fact, he paid for your daughter’s surgery, Trip. And you, Rai? How do you think you got into that school you were busting a gut for? Huh? He’s helped all of us behind the scenes and all you assholes can do, is treat him like shit.”
Juno waved a hand around him. “Who do you think is paying for all this? Me? Not hardly. I could never afford this. Rudy is. ”
“But – but I thought Mellissa’s family were paying for the wedding.” His mother interrupted.
Juno snorted. “I’m lucky Mellissa is even being allowed to marry me at all.”
Juno glared at his mother. “Her father, Senator Stockton, hated the lot of you the minute he met you. Pretentious, stuck up, selfish…” He paused, taking a deep calming breath.
“Rudy talked him into changing his mind and offered to pay for the wedding. He has more right to be here than you do.”
No one said a word. The silence was deafening.
“Just because Dad had a moment of weakness, you’ve punished him, us and especially Rudy, all of our lives. Isn’t it time to let it go?”
She defiantly crossed her arms. “Never. He is a blight on the family name and should have been put down at birth.”
Sighing, Juno turned to the rest of his family. “Anyone who feels the same way can leave. Now.”
“What?” She stared at him in shock. “You would throw your own mother out of your wedding?”
“I’m done with all this shit. If you can’t deal, you can leave. You’ve disrupted the happiest day of my life enough.”
Scowling, she turned and stormed from the tent. Clay watched the indecision on both Rai’s and Trip’s faces as they looked at each other, then the retreating figure of their mother.
Juno wrapped an arm around each of them. “Guys, you are old enough to make up your own minds. You can go after her, no hard feelings. Or stay and maybe grow up a little.”
Again, they exchanged glances and then looked towards where their father still sat in his seat, making no move to follow his wife. His arms were crossed and he looked determined. Maybe he was finally done with his wife’s shit too.
Trip and Rai, headed over to their father, and sat down on the chairs on each side of him. Their father looked at them in surprise, then pride overtook his features. He clasped Rai’s right hand and Trip’s left and squeezed them tight, not releasing them.
Juno turned to Clay and Rudy, shaking his head. “I’m sorry for that, but it was coming for a long time.”
Rudy stepped out the cage of Clay’s arms and embraced his brother. “That was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen.”
“She is wrong. You are my brother, Rudy, and I love you.”
Clay could hear the tears choking Rudy’s words as he whispered, “I love you too.” He reached out his hands to Dixon and Halley, who clasped his hands. Clay smiled warmly at the three brothers who chose to love each other despite the odds.
Dixon abruptly pulled his phone out of his jacket pocket. “Juno, I just got a text. Mellissa and her family are here. It’s time to get this show on the road.”
“Go on, Juno.” Rudy grinned up at him. “Claim the love of your life, forever.”
A sappy smile settled on Juno’s face. “Yeah.”
The wedding was beautiful and if a tear or two slid down Rudy’s cheeks, well, Clay didn’t say anything, just gently wiped them away with his thumb. After dinner and toasts, a DJ started the music and everyone relaxed and flooded the dance floor to have fun.
Clay enjoyed himself, maybe a little more than he should have, when Rudy ground his ass into Clay’s crotch and he was forced to hide his hard-on. Taking a break at the table, Juno and Mellissa dropped into the seats across from them.
“How’re you guys holding up?” Clay asked the happy couple.
“Good.” Mellissa answered giving Juno a kiss. She leaned over to Rudy, placing her hand on his. “Thank again, Rudy.”
Clay smiled as his love blushed. “You are very welcome, Mellissa. You look beautiful.”
She dimpled prettily. “Awe, thank you.”
Hailey and Dixon joined them carrying a large box between them. They placed it in front of Rudy.
“What’s this?” Rudy asked looking at the four of them.
Rising to his feet, Rudy ripped the colorful paper off the box and opened the lid. He reached in to pull out another wrapped box.
He tore the paper off this one, opened it and revealed yet another box.
“Real cute guys.” He said to the chuckles.
After five more wrapped boxes, each successively smaller, Rudy opened what Clay knew was the last box.
A confused expression crossed Rudy’s face as he lifted out a card. “Congratulations? I don’t understand.”
Out of the corner of his eyes, Clay could see his sister and her husband moving up to the table, a camera in her hands. They hadn’t attended the wedding but they had a special invitation for this part.
Clay pushed his chair and Rudy’s out of the way and sank to his knee as the music suddenly stopped. A light flashed onto their table as he pulled out a small velvet box and held it in offering to Rudy. Rudy had frozen in place, staring down at Clay. Silence reined around them.
“Rudy, I love you more than life itself and would do anything for you. I want to bind us together forever in every way possible. Will you do me the great honor of becoming my husband?” He opened the box to reveal a platinum band with both their birthstones embedded in the metal.
Rudy’s eyes shimmered brightly before a tear rolled down his cheek, quickly followed by another. He nodded rapidly before launching himself at Clay, wrapping his arms around Clay’s neck and kissing him.
Someone asked, “Did he say yes?”
Clay heard Juno respond. “Yup, I’d say that’s a yes.”
Cheering erupted around them and the music started up again. Clay ignored it all in favor of the man in his arms, kissing him senseless. Showing him without words how much he was loved, forever.
Follow Terry for “Seeing is a Curse”, book 2 in the “Seeing is Believing” ghost cop series, currently in edits at MLR Press. A release date and cover announcement is coming soon.
Coming back from the dead changes a man as Detective Erik James discovers when he is reunited with Doctor Kevin Stuart, the love of his life. The last thing he expected was to become a ghost whisperer, able to guide lost souls.
They barely get a chance to explore Erik’s new abilities when they are abruptly forced apart by blackmail. All because of the greed of Kevin’s own ambitious Sentinel father.
Kevin must enlist the help of an old friend to try and end his father’s plans, and hopefully win Erik back before it’s too late.
Ivan, Erik’s dead partner Nick’s twin brother, is brutally attacked and left for dead, and Erik is convinced it was because of him.
Teaming up, the men must weed out the corruption rampant in the Sentinel Hierarchy, save Ivan’s life and stop Kevin’s father.
“Rudy”, coming this fall.
Hated by his family for being a living reminder of his father’s infidelity, Rudy never expected that a blind date mix up would change his life.
Clay, an engineer fresh out of the military, is the answer to Rudy’s dreams, becoming Rudy’s co-worker, protector and lover all rolled into one gorgeous package.
Not only do they mesh well together to bring Rudy’s vision to life, neither can deny the overwhelming attraction that sizzles between them. An attraction that almost ended before it could begin because of a misunderstanding leading to Clay in jail for assault.
Filled with hate, Donny, Rudy’s older half-brother, tries to destroy him and stop Rudy from saving his grandfather’s toy factory.
Only Clay can save Rudy’s life and the toy factory, if he’s not too late.
Terry Poole Bio
Terry makes her home between the two massive lakes that bisect Manitoba in central Canada. She’s always written in one form or another. Her very first book, at age five, consisted of stick figures drawn upon a roll of adding machine paper. When Terry isn't writing (which isn’t often), she can be found crocheting, making handmade soap or hanging out on Facebook.
Her mind has been compared to a train station filled with runaway trains. The trick is to catch one and hang on. So many stories, so little time. Her epitaph will consist of only two words – What if…
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