The Man I Love

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Our Life Together

Aiden felt his stomach twist. He swallowed, resting his hand on it in an effort to calm down. If Kellen were with him, he had no doubt that the man already would have touched his stomach softly and given him an understanding look with a kiss to distract him.

By the age of thirty-one, he really should have been able to calm down on his own, but he’d learned that Kellen could make him feel better like no one else could. Somehow, the brunette knew how to say just the right thing to make all his worries melt away.

That’s why it was killing Aiden that he wasn’t with Kellen that morning. Not that he didn’t understand why.

They were getting married that day. They’d spent the night apart and would only see each other before the wedding.

Aiden smiled widely. His chest felt light at the thought of finally, finally, calling this wonderful man his husband. He didn’t think that he could think of a time when he’d been happier, except maybe the night they got engaged. Or when they got back together. Or when Kellen goofed off with him at Isaac’s wedding.

Okay, so he’d been pretty happy these past few years. That was why he had absolutely no reason to be nervous to marry his man, but his stomach wasn’t getting the memo.

Aiden wasn’t worried about marrying Kellen. He was worried that he would trip walking down the aisle, slip on the dance floor, or just generally do something embarrassing with both of their families and friends watching. Even if it was only like forty or fifty people, Aiden was still aware of the fact that that would be double the eyes keeping track of his every move.

His stomach twisted at the thought. Aiden could normally hide it pretty well when his stomach was acting up, but he must have been pretty obvious if Isaac of all people noticed.

“Dude, seriously? You’re nervous about marrying Kellen? You could honestly have taken him to a courthouse and he probably would have jumped your bones in the parking lot,” Isaac said from the back seat, leaning up on the armrest.

Ian made a turn. “You were nervous about marrying Lyla too,” he said understandingly. “It’s a big deal. It makes sense to be nervous.”

“Yeah, but it’s Kellen. He’s known the guy almost for half of his life now,” Isaac emphasized like it should be obvious.

Aiden gave him a deadpan look. “You’re definitely not comforting.” Not like Kellen anyway. While Aiden had a lot of fun doing their usual, and last, brotherly night before his wedding, driving to the wedding with his brothers didn’t calm his nerves.

He winced at the pinch of pain in his stomach, jumping when Isaac held his phone out to him. “Talk,” he commanded.

Aiden gave him a suspicious look, but grabbed the phone anyway. “Hello?” he asked cautiously.

“Hey, hun. Isaac told me that your stomach is bothering you?”

Aiden turned to glare at Isaac for bothering Kellen, who only gave him a smirk. “It’s nothing, Kellen. Just some nerves.”

“Getting cold feet?” Kellen joked. There was some shifting on the other line, although all Aiden knew was that Kellen had been with his sisters and was already at the venue.

“Not a chance,” Aiden said with a smile. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

Kellen laughed lowly. “Good. It’ll be okay, Aiden. I know you get nervous. But it’s just me and you up there, okay? We’ll kiss, dance, hopefully snatch some food in between, and go back to our hotel for some alone time. As husbands.”

Aiden smiled into the phone, feeling the tension bleed from his body. “Just me and you?”

“Whenever you feel nervous, I’ll be there. But until I get there, make your brothers cringe on my behalf.”

Aiden chuckled. “Will do. Love you, Kellen.”

“Love you too, Aiden.”

Maybe Isaac wasn’t the most comforting person in the world, but he was smart enough to know just how to make Aiden feel better. Aiden hung up and handed the phone back to him, ignoring the smug look on his face.

“Feel better?” Isaac smirked. “What did he even say to you? That was like a two-minute conversation and you look better already.”

Aiden shrugged. “He described to me our wedding night in very graphic detail,” he said as seriously as he could, rolling his eyes at the raise of Isaac’s eyebrows. “We just talked,” Aiden amended, saving Isaac from his own imagination.

Aiden felt his stomach settle enough by the time they got there.

He had been to the venue before of course, but he still smiled when he saw the beautiful garden outside set up with rows of white chairs, flowers, and colored accents all over. He and Kellen had chosen everything pretty easily, since Aiden didn’t care all too much about what everything looked like. He just wanted to get married in the spring, since that was when they met, and outside. Everything beyond that was just icing on the cake.

Ian clapped him on the back with a smile. “This looks great. Garden wedding: always a good pick.”

“Yeah, we’ll all fit right in once we get our suits on,” Isaac said with a fond smile, looking over the chairs to the altar at the end of the aisle.

Aiden’s heart sped up looking at that little altar. In a few hours, he’d be up there saying the vows he’d worked on and pulling Kellen in for a kiss.

In that moment though, he noticed Rory and Maia gathered around one of the seats at the end of the first row, talking quietly amongst themselves. Maia leaned down to mess with something and turned to Rory for her approval. After a minor adjustment, Rory nodded.

Aiden raised his eyebrows and silently walked around the chairs to see what they were up to, his brothers following behind.

Both Maia and Rory were dressed to impress. Aiden didn’t think he’d seen the two of them look so formal in the entire time he’d known them, Maia in a peach dress with lace around the neckline, and Rory in a black dress with a small heart cut out in the chest. The two of them really did look grown up. The bridesmaid dress code wasn’t very strict.

Rory noticed him first, sending a smile his way. “Aiden! Hello,” she said with a wave.

“Hey almost-brother-in-law,” Maia greeted, smiling. “I hope you’re going to change,” she teased, eyeing his jeans and button-up.

“I’ll only take a minute,” Aiden assured her, looking down at what they’d been doing. They’d set up the last chair in the front row with pink and white carnations, with a rose on top.

Isaac peeked around to see, frowning curiously. “What’s up with the flowers?”

Maia and Rory shared a look. It was Maia who said, “Well, Kellen’s dad passed, you know, and so he won’t be here today. But we wanted to make sure that he had a place at the wedding too.”

Rory bounced on her feet, an old habit. “So, we set up a chair for him. This way, he can be here just like he would have wanted.”

Aiden’s mouth opened slightly at the gesture. These two girls had never even met Kyle Konrad, but they cared about their brother so much that they wanted to make sure that he could feel his dad with him on his wedding day.

They high-fived each other. “We’re so going to make Kellen cry,” Maia said, to which Rory pumped her fist excitedly.

Ian made a noise somewhere between a scoff and a laugh. “You want to make him cry?”

“Well, like, not sob,” Maia clarified with a “well duh” tone. “We’ll leave it to Aiden to make him cry on the altar. As long as you don’t make him cry on your wedding night,” she joked with a bark of laughter that sounded a lot like Kellen’s.

Aiden knew it was a joke, but he still felt his ears go red at the implication. Maia apparently had her snark back now that she was sober. All he could think to say was, “We’ve had some time to practice the wedding night, so I think we’ll be good.”

Maia smirked. “Ah, your skills have advanced these last few years,” she said in the tone of a master speaking to her pupil, clearly trying not to smile.

“You have passed the test to enter into our family,” Rory joined in, keeping a straight face with greater ease. “Now, your final hurdle: get dressed before someone other than us finds you slacking here.”

The two of them laughed to one another, making Aiden smile. He was proud to be a part of Kellen’s family, even as his sisters shooed him and his brothers off to where they could change and get ready.

It took about twenty minutes, mostly because his hands were shaking slightly in both nerves and excitement, before Aiden was looking at himself in the mirror. His suit was pristine, black slacks stretching down, ironed white dress shirt smoothed out over his chest. Aiden adjusted his black jacket, buttoning it up over his tie.

He took a deep breath. It felt real now in this suit, looking at himself in the mirror. It had been a long wait for them, but that wait was about to be over.

Aiden was so lost in his thoughts that he almost didn’t notice his dad step over to him.

“How are you feeling, Aiden?” the man asked, smoothing his jacket for him.

“Nervous. But good,” Aiden answered shortly, his stomach twisting uncomfortably again.

His dad gave him a sympathetic smile. “Take a seat, son,” he requested, pulling out a chair at one of the tables in the dressing room. Aiden did as he was asked, listening when his dad started speaking. “I was nervous when I married your mother too. You know your mother: intelligent, full of life, and stunning, of course. That woman is so far out of my league and back then, I couldn’t believe she’d choose me.” He chuckled lowly, shaking his head.

Aiden gave him a smile. “I feel that way a lot too. About Kellen.”

His dad smiled, nodding. “Then you’re probably just as nervous as I was. Feels too good to be true, doesn’t it?”

“It really does,” Aiden agreed quietly.

His dad only patted his knee. “You’ve been so brave over these past few years, being yourself without being scared. You came out to me and your mom, and I know you were frightened, but I’m so happy to have the chance to see you—to see the person that you’ve always been. And I know that you’ve done that all on your own, but I also see how great Kellen has been for you. He’s helped you be braver, to be more confident in yourself. Kellen’s a good man, and when I see you two together without caring who sees, I know that you’ll make each other very happy.”

Aiden grabbed his dad for a tight hug, relishing in the tight embrace. “Thank you, dad,” he said quietly, wondering if he’d make it through the wedding without tears. He definitely wouldn’t if his whole family said things like this.

When his dad leaned back, he reached into his pocket. “Your mom and I actually saw these. We picked them up for you and Kellen. I, uh, didn’t know if maybe they’d be something you guys would want.” He held out two tiny flag pins, one of them the gay flag and the other one a flag with bisexual colors.

Aiden picked them up gingerly. “This is great, dad,” he said truthfully. He’d never been the type to wear his identity on his sleeve, but on this day, on his wedding day, he wanted to show everyone who he was. He wasn’t ashamed of the man that he was, or of the man he was marrying.

He was so caught up in the moment that he almost threw the pins across the room when someone knocked loudly and eked open the door.

Olivia’s familiar face appeared. She was smiling, but had her eyes closed. “Is everyone dressed? Sorry, boys, but my girlfriend is the only one I need to see in her underwear.”

B was clearly there with her based on the sigh that came from behind her.

“Haven’t you seen Kellen in his underwear too?” Aiden laughed.

Olivia scoffed. “Sure, but that’s like best friend territory and he was having a migraine. So, come on: dressed or not?”

“We’re dressed,” Aiden’s dad answered for him, smiling at Olivia’s playful banter.

Taking that as her cue, Olivia stepped in, pushing up her sparkly glasses. In an elegant purple dress to match the purple streaks in her hair, she stepped into the room to wrap Aiden in a big hug. “Aw, it’s finally your wedding day!”

“You’ll choke him at that rate,” the quieter voice of B behind her.

Even in those heels, the ever-graceful B walked quietly. Aiden hadn’t even heard the other woman come in, but there she was in a simple blue dress that showed off every one of her tattoos. She wore a tie done up artfully around her throat.

“Yes, dear,” Olivia said happily, fixing Aiden’s jacket. “But we really did come here for a reason.”

Aiden looked between the two of them as B held out a tiny bottle of ginger ale. A memory hit him at full force, one of Kellen giving him a soda like that back when they were in high school. That was one of the first times he understood how much Kellen cared for him, enough to carry around sodas just in case he had an upset stomach.

“Kellen said that you could use our help,” B said to him.

Olivia nodded. “We went out and got some of these. We have medicine too if you still don’t feel good. Kellen usually pretty much always has it with him for you, so he sent us over with it.”

His dad shook his head fondly. “Don’t let that man go, Aiden,” he said with a smile.

Aiden definitely wasn’t planning to. He drank his soda and got ready to get up on that altar, helping to prepare the ballroom for the reception. He was just about to join the rest of their group when he was suddenly pulled back into an alcove and found himself face-to-face with Kellen.

He was surprised at the sudden kiss, Kellen gripping his shirt to press their lips together firmly, but he melted into it all the same. Aiden breathed out some of the nerves he’d been feeling, relaxing finally at the warm feeling of the man in front of him.

“Kellen,” he breathed out when they parted. “What are you…?” It wasn’t like it was a bad thing that they saw each other before the wedding, but they did both agree that waiting would be worth the anticipation.

Kellen was smiling widely though. “Now you don’t have to be nervous about our kiss. And I can see how sexy you look in that suit, so it’s a win-win.”

Aiden was pretty sure that Kellen was the sexy one. The man had on the same white button up, black tie, and black slacks, but with a white vest that had a subtle shimmery red design on it. The way it all fit his body snuggly made Aiden wish it was time for their wedding night already.

“You’re too tempting, Kellen,” Aiden said out loud, running his hands up Kellen’s chest. He noticed the little flag pin he’d asked Olivia to pass along and smiled.

Kellen chuckled, his expression relaxing into something more comfortable. He touched Aiden’s stomach gingerly. “Are you feeling any better, hun?”

Aiden leaned forward to kiss him soundly again. “Much better. Now get out of here so we can get married!” he laughed, turning Kellen around and shoving him out of their alcove.

That kiss did calm him down. Aiden didn’t feel nervous at all as he walked up the aisle with his parents, or when he stood at the altar with his brothers on one side and his sisters-in-law and Nikki on the other. Soon, Maia and Rory were up there with Olivia and B, and Kellen was walking up with his mom.

Aiden smiled. Kellen and his mother had their problems and they would no doubt have problems in the future, but it was clear how happy she was for him as she kissed him on the cheek and sat next to her husband.

Maia and Rory didn’t quite get Kellen to cry, but his eyes did look a little watery when Maia tapped him on the shoulder to point out the chair they’d done for his dad.

Aiden didn’t end up crying either. He’d come pretty close though when they recited their vows. As they agreed, Kellen went first. Shifting in the silence, Kellen looked Aiden right in the eyes, speaking only to him when he said, “I think we’ve known one another for almost fifteen years now, and in that time, we’ve had a pretty epic love story,” he joked, unable to keep the smile off his face.

“We dated in high school, we were apart for years, and we found each other again. Beyond all that though… Aiden, you’ve always made me feel at home. When I’ve felt alone in my life, you’ve been there. When I can’t even think because my head hurts so bad, you’re there to help me feel better. You’re my guy, Aiden, and you always will be. We might have lost some years in between, but I’m ready to spend all the remaining years together.”

Kellen had kept it short. Still, Aiden’s ears were red at the sweet words, even though he’d heard as much before.

He took a deep breath as Kellen quieted. Aiden was nervous about messing up before, but now, staring at Kellen across from him, he was excited to let everyone know exactly how he felt.

“No matter how we got here, we’re here, and there really aren’t any words for how lucky I feel to be standing with you here right now. But Kellen, you were the first person who really showed me what it means to be loved for who I am. You accepted me without a second thought. You’ve always known just what to say to me to feel better. Even when you smile at me, I feel like I’m on top of the world,” Aiden said surely to him.

Kellen was smiling. As always, his face was red from the compliments. Aiden gave him a fond look. “And I can say even the simplest things and your face will get red like that,” he laughed, “You’re everything I’ve ever wanted and I’m ready for us to continue our lives together.”

With the usual “I do’s,” Aiden kissed Kellen like the man was his reason for breathing, breathing him in and definitely wrinkling his formerly pristine vest. Kellen was smiling against his lips though, cupping his face with a gentle touch.

Aiden didn’t even notice the clapping of their guests until they separated and Kellen grabbed his hand for their descent down the aisle. On the first step they took together, Aiden only had one thought: they were married. Kellen was his husband now.

He kissed Kellen deeply when they were meant to be taking wedding photos. Someone took their picture. Even without that picture though, Aiden wouldn’t be forgetting that kiss anytime soon.

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