The Magic in Your Touch Ch. 06bywavyscribe©
Before he met Nate, Brandon always thought gay marriages were for other guys, not him. He didn’t care that the state didn’t recognize them. As far as he was concerned, God made a marriage, not city hall. No, the reason he didn’t take most gay marriages seriously was because half the gay couples he knew cheated on each other whenever the notion struck. To be fair, he knew of several monogamous gay relationships, he just never thought he’d have one. Even before he knew about Jeff’s propensity for sticking his dick in anything with blond hair and twenty-thousand dollars worth of dental-work, Brandon never even thought about dragging him in front of the family preacher. With Nate, it was different.
It wasn’t just that he knew Nate would never cheat on him. No, he wanted Nate to be a part of him. Hell, Nate was a part of him, his other half, the better half. He knew it, and he wanted to share that knowledge with the rest of the world. In front of a hundred and fifty of their closest friends and relatives, he wanted to make Nathan Morris his, forever.
Unfortunately for both Brandon and his nerves, the object of all his desires and affections was sitting in the bed staring at him with open mouthed astonishment. Brandon got up and started pacing. Damn it, why wasn’t he answering? Was he just going to sit there in silence until Brandon lost what little composure he’d gotten back after nearly losing Nate—permanently—not twenty-four hours ago? No way was Bran going to let him get away with that.
“Look, Nate, I’m not asking you to wear a white dress and carry a bunch of daisies here.” He crossed back to the bed. “I love you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Look, you don’t have to answer me right now. Take some time, think about it.”
“Brandon, I don’t need—”
“Nate, I know I’m nothing like Rick, but I do know we’re good together.”
“How do you know you’re nothing like him?”
“Seth was kind enough to point out our differences that first day we met. Seems Rick was into caviar and Cristal. According to your brother, I’m more the beer nuts and Heineken, type.”
“I believe he said you would be more at home at a tractor pull than the opera, but I guess the reference is the same.”
Brandon sat down on the bed again. “You heard all that?”
“One thing you need to know about me, sweetheart: I’m a notorious eavesdropper. I’m the kid who always knew what he was getting for Christmas. I heard most everything Seth said to you. For the record, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He only saw Rick a handful of times. He didn’t even know we were anything more than friends until that last night, and you know how well that turned out.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you heard us?”
Nate gave him that sexy smile again. “And admit I couldn’t come into the room and blast my brother for what he said because I was standing in the hall crying like a six-year-old kid? That’s exactly what I started doing when I heard you promising dire retribution if he hurt me again. No one’s ever taken up for me like that before. Well, except for Amy, but she fights like a girl. Anyway, I didn’t mention it because I wasn’t about to dignify Seth’s stupid comparisons by acknowledging them. I was with Rick ten times longer than I’ve been with you, but I never felt for him anything close to what you make me feel.” Nate leaned back against the pillows and patted the bed. “Here, lay down next to me.”
“No. I’m too big. There’s not enough room.”
“There is if you lay real close.”
“I might hurt you.”
The trust in Nate’s eyes was humbling. “Never in a million years. Please, Bran. I love you. I need you.”
That was all it took. Brandon eased Nate over and into his arms, then scooted down beside him. Nate snuggled close and laid his head on Brandon’s chest, his broken arm resting on his side. “Umm, that’s much better.”
Brandon kissed the top of his head. “So, if you love me so much, and I’m such a great catch, how come you haven’t answered my question yet?”
“I was going to when you freaked out on me.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve never proposed before. Forgive me for being a little anxious.” He ran his fingers along Nate’s spine, delighting in the shivers he caused. “Now, for the love of God, quit stalling and answer the damn question.”
“I’m not stalling. I’m about to begin negotiations.”
Brandon smiled. Only Nathan Morris could turn a marriage proposal into a meeting of the minds. God, he loved that man.
“I assume this is the point where I ask you what your demands are, right?”
“Right. They’re pretty simple actually. I want to be married in the church you and your family go to. This marriage is going to be forever. We’re only going to do it once, so we might as well do it right. I was raised in the church, but I haven’t been since my parents and I parted ways. Even through all that, though, I never really lost my faith. I think we should begin our new family by going together. Do you think your minister will marry us?”
“Pastor Oakley has a son who’s gay, so he’s pretty open minded about it. The whole church is, really. I think you’ll like it there. It’s the First Christian Church of Reed, but we have all denominations in the congregation. We’ll have to do pre-marriage counseling, though. Church rules.”
“I don’t mind. It sounds nice actually, especially if it means having our marriage formally blessed. Which brings me to my second point: I’ve known gay couples who refer to each other as partners. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we’re partners now. When we say our vows, you’ll be my husband. I don’t care what the state says. We’ll be just as married as any other couple. You’ll be my husband, and that’s what I’m going to call you.”
“The first two demands sound pretty damn nice. Number three isn’t where you tell me you want a bachelor party with a male stripper, is it? You know how jealous I get.”
“No, but you may not like it.” He paused. “I want my brother to stand up for me.”
A few days ago, Bran might have fought him on that one. Instead, he said, “As long as you make him wear one of those puffy pink dresses with all the lace, I’m fine with it.”
Nate chuckled, then clutched his stomach. “Don’t make me laugh. It hurts.”
“Let me call the nurse and get you some pain medicine.”
“No. I’m not done with you yet. We still have to go over numbers four and five before we seal the deal.”
“Okay. Let’s hear them.”
“Four is one of the most important. I want kids, lots of them, to fill up that big house of yours.”
“It’s our house, and I’m more than willing. Hell, I’ll get you pregnant right now if you want me to.”
“You’re a sick man, Brandon Nash, and I love you more than life itself. That brings me to number five. I want to get married on a weekday morning.”
“Honey, are you sure they slacked off on your medication? You aren’t making any sense. What does loving me more than life itself have to do with getting married on a weekday morning?”
Nate tugged at Brandon until Bran was positioned over him, looking down at his face. Brandon’s breath caught in his throat when he saw the love sparkling in Nate’s eyes. Nate’s voice was little more than a whisper and shaking with emotion. “Because, the minute we say our vows and the minister pronounces us as one, I’m going down to city hall and having my last name changed. I want to take your name, Bran. I want the whole world to know who I belong to.”
Brandon gathered him close and let the tears fall. He whispered to him, nonsense words of love and commitment. After a few minutes, he pulled him into a gentle but promising kiss. The sound of applause broke them apart.
Six nurses stood at the door, alternately smiling and sobbing. One of them, an older woman who reminded Brandon of his Aunt Larine, said, “That was the most beautiful proposal and acceptance I ever heard.”
Brandon said, “You heard the whole thing?”
A red-headed aide pointed to the railing at Nate’s back. “Next time you want privacy, make sure your sweetie’s rear-end isn’t jammed against the intercom button. She gave a deep sigh. “The part about him taking your name just did me in. Why are all the good guys gay?”
A blue-eyed blond in pink scrubs spoke to Nate. “The cutest thing was the way he went all nervous because you didn’t answer him fast enough. Your boyfriend is one special guy, Dr. Morris.”
Nate reached up and stroked Brandon’s face. “He’s not my boyfriend, anymore. He’s my fiancé.”
* * *
Nate always thought loving families like the Nash’s only existed in T.V. reruns. The forest of plants in his room and the string of visitors he’d had since his accident four days ago blew that theory out of the water. From the minute visiting hours started at nine a.m. until they ended twelve hours later, Nate was bombarded by his future in-laws. He had to admit, he was enjoying the attention. Between Gale and Grandma Taylor, he hadn’t eaten a single bite of hospital food since he’d been bumped up to solids. They either brought or sent home-cooked meals every six hours. Brandon had started timing his visits to coincide with mealtime.
Seth was also a fixture at the hospital. Though Nate kept giving him a hard time about going back to school, he had to admit he was enjoying having his brother back in his life. He and Seth had spent long hours since the accident putting their relationship back together. The only thing they disagreed on nowadays were their parents.
“I still think you should call them,” Seth had said during a marathon of conversation and the mint-chocolate-chip ice cream he’d smuggled in. Nate had to give him credit though. The minute he’d refused, Seth had dropped it. For the last two days, Seth had been too excited about the pending arrival of his boyfriend, Phillip, to bring it up again.
Nate leaned back against his pillows and looked at the clock on the far wall. It was almost six and Bran should have been here by now. He hadn’t wanted to go back to work at all until Nate was released, but he’d finally rationalized the necessity by saying he was saving up for a long honeymoon. He was adamant about not using a dime of Nate’s trust fund. Brandon was so old-fashioned, Nate was surprised he didn’t ask him to quit working all together so Bran could support him. Maybe once the kids came along, he would move his office to the house. For now, he was looking forward to just being able to shower by himself, much less going back to work.
The deputy assigned to watch over him from four p.m. until twelve a.m., an older man named Jim Mason, stuck his dark head in the door.
“The sheriff just radioed in, Doc. He’ll be here as soon as he finishes up some paperwork, but he wanted me to give you a heads-up. Seems that the female contingent of the Nash family is on the way over.”
Jim smiled. “You got it. Looks like they’d at least give you a chance to recover first.”
Nate shook his head. “You don’t know Gale. She’s so happy that Brandon is finally settling down, I think she wants to make the whole thing a done deal before he changes his mind.”
Jim said, “There’s not a chance in hell of that happening, Doc. Anyone can see how crazy about you he is. Take my advice, though. Elope.”
Over the next hour, Nate began to think Jim had the right idea. After looking at catering options and seating charts until his eyes crossed, Nate was ready to crawl out the third floor window. When Brandon came in, he sighed with relief.
Brandon walked over and kissed his mother and his grandmother, then greeted his sisters and sisters-in-law. Finally, he came over to Nate and kissed him softly on the lips.
“All these females aren’t wearing you out, are they?”
Gale said, “Nate has been a perfect gentleman about the whole thing, but I think you may have a point, Brandon. I mean, it’s hardly fair to expect him to plan everything in his condition. I’ll come by your office tomorrow and you can do it.” With that announcement, she kissed Nate’s cheek and left, the rest of the crew following behind her. Nate almost burst out laughing at the forlorn expression on Bran’s face.
He eased down into the bedside chair. “I set myself up for that one, didn’t I?”
Nate reached for his hand. “’Fraid so. Looks like you’re going to be busy for the next few days.”
Bran nodded. He looked down at Nate’s hand. “Hey, you got your IV taken out. Does that mean I can spring you from this place soon?”
“Tomorrow, if everything checks out like it should. Think you can handle me being at home twenty-four-seven until I’m recovered enough to go back to work?”
Brandon leaned close and kissed the pulse point beneath his ear. “I think I can come up with a few things to keep you busy while you heal.”
Nate laughed. “I’ll just bet you can. Gale told me you’ve recruited different family members to stay with me while you’re at work. That isn’t necessary, Bran.”
Brandon kissed him again and then leaned back in his chair. “Afraid it’s non-negotiable, sweetheart. The guards will also come home with us until we catch the bastard that did this.”
“We found a partial fingerprint on the undercarriage of your car, but it doesn’t match anything in our system. I’ve sent it to some of my buddies in Quantico to see what they can do. In the meantime, I do have news of a different sort.”
“Don’t keep me in suspense.”
“Seth’s boyfriend flew in this afternoon.”
“Ah, the mysterious Mr. Patterson. What’s he like?”
“I don’t know yet. As soon as Seth picked him up, he took him to the house to get him settled in. I was at work, but Keith stopped by to drop off some lasagna Maria and the kids made, and he met him. I don’t think he was overly impressed. Oh, and get this. They’re sleeping in separate bedrooms.”
Nate nodded. “I know. Seth told me a little bit about their relationship. I’ve got to say, I’ve never even met the guy, but I already know I don’t like him very much.”
“That sounds serious. I mean, you like everybody. What makes you so sure you won’t like Seth’s guy?”
Nate made a face. “That’s just it. He doesn’t act like he’s Seth’s guy. Seth told him about the rape right after they started dating. He wanted Phillip to know before things got serious. Know what the bastard said to him?”
“From the tone of your voice, I’m guessing it was nothing good.”
“You’re damn right it wasn’t. He demanded that Seth go get an AIDS test.”
“What’s the big deal, babe? You and I have had that discussion, too. We both get tested every six months ourselves, you for your malpractice insurance and me as a state employee who has to deal with open wounds at accident scenes. We even discussed the fact that we’re both clean and, given our sexual histories, won’t need to use condoms when the time comes.”
Nate shook his head. “This is different, Bran. When Seth told him he’d already been tested and hadn’t been with anybody since the rape, Patterson got angry and refused to even kiss him. Seth finally gave in and the two of them went and got tested together. They were both negative, but the doctor told them to get retested in six months. That’s just standard procedure, but Seth said his so-called boyfriend has decreed anything other than light kissing is off limits until the second test comes back. He won’t even consider using condoms until Seth proves himself worthy.” Nate clenched and unclenched his left fist. “What kind of jerk treats somebody he claims to care about that way?”
Brandon said, “Loosen up your fingers, baby. You’ve already got one broken arm. You don’t want to add broken knuckles to the mix. Did you ask Seth why he puts up with it?”
“I did, but he just gave me some song and dance about how his relationship with Phillip means more than just sex. I know you’ve been understanding about my reluctance to make love, and I appreciate that, but this just feels wrong to me. Something isn’t right.”
Brandon came to sit on the bed and started kissing away Nate’s frown. Between kisses, he said, “I’ll keep on eye on Patterson while he’s at our house. Now we need to talk about our own sleeping arrangements.”
Nate was having trouble following because Brandon was sucking on his earlobe. His voice sounded squeaky to his own ears when he said, “What about them?”
Brandon moved down to bite softly on Nate’s collar bone. “If you want to wait until after the wedding to make love, I’ll do my best to keep my hands off you, but I don’t want you to sleep in the guestroom anymore. I want you in my bed every night, sleeping in my arms.”
Nate moaned as Brandon’s tongue found the sensitive hollow of his throat. “I don’t want to wait, not about any of it. I want you so bad right now I’m about to come just from kissing you.”
Brandon looked down at Nate’s erection to where it tented the sheet. “So I see. I know the doctor said you couldn’t have sex for a couple more weeks, but Keith said it should be okay for you to do other things so long as you didn’t strain yourself.”
Brandon started kissing his neck again. Nate barely managed to say, “What other things,” before Bran started pulling at the bottom of his hospital gown. He almost had it all the way up to Nate’s lap when he stopped and grabbed his radio. Nate was confused until he heard Bran speak.
Jim’s voice came through instantly. “Yes, Sheriff?”
“Nobody comes through that door unless you radio me about it first.”
“What about doctors and nurses?”
Brandon said, “Nobody. Tell them it’s a new security measure or something. Hell, I don’t care what you tell them, just keep them out of here for the next half-hour, at least.”
Nate could almost hear Jim smiling. “Yes, sir. Remember Sheriff, the doc just had surgery four days ago. Be gentle.” He signed off before he heard Brandon’s curses.
Brandon sat the radio aside and kissed Nate softly on the lips. Nate put his arms around Brandon’s neck and opened his mouth. With a growl, Bran pushed him back against the pillows and swept his tongue into Nate’s mouth. After a minute, Brandon began kissing a trail from the corner of Nate’s mouth to his neck. When he got to the collar of Nate’s hospital gown, he grabbed the hem and pulled the whole thing over Nate’s head. Nate groaned and reached for him, but Brandon stopped him.
“No, baby. This is just for you.”
“But I want to make you feel good, too.”
“Honey, you make me feel good just by looking at me like you do.” His voice dropped to a husky whisper that did nothing to ease Nate’s state of arousal. “Let me touch you, Nate. Let me do what I’ve dreamed of doing to you since the first time I laid eyes on that hard body of yours.”
Nate sighed as Brandon’s fingers toyed with one of his sensitive nipples. Though the sheet was still covering him from the waist down, he felt exposed under Bran’s gaze. “This is the first time you’ve ever seen me without clothes on.”
Brandon dipped his head down to flick the teased nipple with the tip of his tongue. The heat in his gaze when he looked up made Nate shiver. “And you’re even more beautiful than I imagined, and believe me, I’ve spent long hours imagining you naked. I can’t wait to see what’s under that sheet.” To prove his point, he started lowering the fabric.
“Bran, nobody’s ever—”
“Shh, baby, I know. I would never hurt you. I want to give you something nobody’s ever given you before.” With that pronouncement, he lowered the sheet. He kissed all the ugly bruises on Nate’s chest and stomach, treating each mark to his tender examination. He even kissed the bandages covering Nate’s surgical incision. Nate was almost mad with anticipation when Brandon reached between his legs and cupped him in his hand.
“Oh, God, that feels good.” The feathery touch of Bran’s fingers on him was almost more than he could take. He’d never considered himself overly sexual before, but just knowing the man he loved was with him, urging his body to give itself over to him, caused his muscles to tighten and release to loom.