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Sunday, January 3, 2016

TLR Chapter 44

A little over an hour later Ryan smiled as they pulled up to their bungalow with the loaded down golf cart. He jumped out and went to Coral's side. As soon as the big man got out Ryan tried to put his arms around Coral's back. He couldn't reach under the big man's knees but tried to heft him under the strong thighs, but discovered that was too awkward and too heavy. He finally settled for carrying Coral fireman style over his shoulder, trying to hold him like an unwieldy sack of grain toward the door of the bungalow.

"What on earth are you doing?" Coral laughed as he hung down Ryan's back. He aimed a swat at his young lover's backside.

Ryan yelped squirmed and continued to trudge toward the door gasping for breath. Just as he made it to the stairs he felt Coral shift and they tumbled to the ground, Ryan breathless. "Sorry...if you hadn't of moved I wouldn't have dropped you." He told the big man.

Coral lay on the ground beside Ryan and laughed in a way he couldn't remember ever doing before. "What were you thinking? Fire drill?" He joked.  "And man, you're stronger than you look, you always have been." Coral laughed again. "Even Duke has trouble lifting me when we work out."

Ryan looked a bit disappointed, but started to laugh as Coral did and smiled at the praise of him being strong. "You're heavier than you look too."

"So what were you doing?" Coral asked again, "Trying to carry me over the threshold?"

Ryan blushed a bit and then said quietly, "Yes."

"Great idea, hon, why don't we carry each other over the threshold?" Coral suggested, rubbing Ryan's arm.

Ryan looked at Coral confused. "Carry each other? I don't see how." He said in a disappointed manner.

Coral got up and dusted himself off before lending a hand to Ryan to help him up. "It's easy, you'll see." He smiled.

Ryan took the extended hand and allowed Coral to help him up and brush him down.

"Now," he said, leading Ryan to the door and opening it, "I'll take your right thigh, you take my left, we'll put our arms around each other and jump in together. That way we'll be carrying each other."

Ryan smiled. "'Kay, we can try that." He bent to pick up Coral's left leg.

It was tricky, and unsteady, but they finally got into position. "Ready on three?" Coral grinned.

Ryan grinned and said, "Yeah."

"One... two... three... hop!" Coral said. The two men hopped through the door. It might have worked if Coral's shoulder hadn't hit the jamb. As it was they made it over the threshold only to fall in a heap on the other side. The two men lay there laughing fit to burst.

Ryan laughed so hard tears were coming down his face. "It would have been better if I had just carried you over my shoulder again." He told Coral.

Coral was having a hard time catching his breath from laughing. "Maybe when we get back from our honeymoon, ok?" he finally gasped out.

He turned over and gathered Ryan into his arms, suddenly serious although his eyes still danced with humor. "And where would you like to go on our honeymoon, my angel?" He asked.

Ryan grinned. "Hawaii?" He asked with a grin.

"Hawaii? Then Hawaii it is. We'll take a tour of the islands, what do you think?"

Ryan's green eyes widened. "You really mean it? We can go? Can we swim with the dolphins and visit the WWII memorial and see the volcanoes and everything? Maybe we should take a cruise?"

"Actually, a cruise is an excellent idea," Coral said, a pleased expression on his face. "I've always wanted to go to Oahu and the Volcanoes National Park.  A lot of history and beauty there.  We can start checking out Hawaiian cruises tomorrow."

Ryan nodded. "Can we start looking now?"

It was late, and Coral felt that they should be getting to sleep, but he knew that Ryan wouldn't be able to until they did at least a little research, so he smiled and agreed as he led his lover into the living room and toward the couch. "Have a seat, hon, I'll bring the computer to the coffee table and we can start looking. But only for a half hour, got it? We still need to sleep and recover from our vacation." He laughed.

Ryan smiled. "'Kay Coral." He sat and squirmed a little on the couch as he was still a bit sore from his earlier spanking as he waited for Coral to get the laptop.

Coral was back moments later and plugged the laptop in. He knew Ryan was going to want to be more than an observer, so he gave the mouse to him and sat back to watch.

Ryan powered up the laptop and once the programs were loaded began to click around. He opened up the browser, found the search engine he liked and typed in Hawaiian cruises and began to read and see where each one went. He exclaimed over one after another, showing Coral each.

Coral smiled at Ryan's enthusiasm. The boy was so excited, his cheeks flushed and his eyes, his beautiful green eyes, glowing with happiness. 

Ryan continued to look at each of the cruises and continued to show each one to Coral. After a half hour he had shown Coral about ten different cruises. "There's more Coral...why don't they all go to the same places and do the same things?"  He asked.  "Maybe we can go on more than one? Spend more time on our honeymoon?"

"Well, not everyone wants to go to the same places, I guess." Coral said.  "And if they all ran the same tours it would be kind of boring, don't you think?  Let's power down now and get to bed, we can look some more and think about it tomorrow. Right now your eyes are sinking into your skull from fatigue."

Ryan pouted. "But we haven't decided on one...or two...or three." He protested.

Coral smiled, "We have plenty of time to plan, Angel. Now it's time for bed."

Ryan sighed. "'Kay, but if you want you can go on and I can keep looking and let you know in the morning what else I found."

Coral fought down another smile, "No, hon. Time for bed. I'll make it worth your while, and believe me; you won't have energy for anything else afterward."

Ryan grinned and reluctantly shut down the laptop. "'Kay Coral." He followed the older man to their bedroom.

As promised, Ryan didn't have enough energy left afterward to even say good night before he fell into a satisfied sleep.


<<<<<<<>>>>>>>  


Ryan woke in the morning a slight frown on his handsome face. He poked Coral in the ribs.

Coral grunted and his eyes opened immediately. He prepared to swing until he realized where he was and who he was with. "What are you poking me for, brat?" He asked, a little put out with being awakened like that. 

Ryan said, "You weren't fair last night. You made love to me until I was too exhausted to stay awake and plan our honeymoon trip to Hawaii." He pouted.

Coral chuffed a laugh. "I didn't hear you complaining last night, little boy," he said as he wrapped a strong arm around the slighter man. He snuggled in and kissed Ryan on the neck until the younger man squirmed.

Ryan began to succumb to Coral's attentions and tried to push the older and much larger man back. "Not fair!" He couldn't help but giggle.

Coral loved the sound of Ryan's laughter and he leaned in for a kiss, savoring Ryan's full lower lip.  He could feel his heart begin to race a bit as his kisses became more intense. He heard Ryan's breathing become heavy and shallow.

Ryan squirmed, but soon returned Coral's advances.

It was a good hour later before Coral and Ryan finally got out of bed to shower and have breakfast. "I was thinking of making cinnamon French toast this morning, Angel. Would you like that?" He asked as he towel dried Ryan's hair and back.

Ryan smiled. "Sounds good." He teased with a twinkle in his green eyes, "You gonna use beer batter?"

Coral advanced on Ryan with an evil grin. "I'll beer batter something but it won't be the toast," he growled, stalking Ryan around the room as the other man laughed at Coral's antics.

Ryan stuck his tongue out at Coral and skipped lightly around the bed, quick as quick silver.

Coral feinted left and grabbed Ryan when he dodged right. He pulled his brat into his arms and gave him a very mild swat on the backside, followed by a kiss that took both of their breath away.

"We're going to have to stop this or we'll never get any breakfast." Coral finally said softly into Ryan's ear, tickling it.

Ryan grinned. "I'd rather have you for breakfast anyway."

"Feeling is mutual," Coral murmured into the curve of Ryan's neck. "But we have things to do today and we can't do them on empty bellies.

Ryan pouted. "What do we have to do today besides plan our weddin'?

Coral grinned. "We have an announcement party to plan. Guest lists to make, a menu to discuss, ohhh, lots of things."

Ryan poked Coral once more. "That's what I was talkin' about last night you big oaf." He teased.

Coral grabbed his chest in the area of his heart. "Oh! You wound me with your words, you terrible brat. Just for that we're having liver and onions for breakfast."

Ryan laughed. "Uh uh...I'm havin' you for breakfast remember? I'll eat your heart, but not your liver." He wrinkled his nose.

Coral's nose wrinkled in response. "Cinnamon French Toast, with maple syrup. Then we sit down with a cup of coffee and do some serious planning."

Ryan smiled and hugged Coral snuggling close and said, "'Kay...but I still think beer batter French toast would be better."

Coral gave Ryan a mild swat and a kiss, and sent him off to get dressed while he made breakfast.

Ryan pretended to rub at his bottom, but went off to get ready for their day.

Coral surprised Ryan by not only having breakfast ready, but the computer open to a wedding planners guide page.

When Ryan came to breakfast his green eyes lit up. "Wow...you actually found a weddin' planning Guide on line...amazin'." He teased.

"Get over here brat. I have a spatula with your name on it." Coral grinned, tapping the implement on the palm of his hand as he approached Ryan.

Ryan backed up. "Uh uh."

"Uh huh, c'mere brat." Coral growled.

The younger man put his hands behind him to protect his bottom. He shook his head. "Nope.

Coral lunged like a tiger and caught Ryan around the waist, dropping the spatula and lifting the young man up off his feet. "You will never get away from meeeee." Coral said in a parody of Dracula. He bent Ryan backwards gently and pretended to bite his neck.

Ryan squealed at Coral's move and then his eyes glazed over.

Coral could feel both of their hearts racing and he pulled back. "Oh, little boy, you do get my motor running." he said as he put Ryan back down. "Now let's sit down and have breakfast. We have all day to plan.  And I'm more than happy to bite your neck whenever you like." He added in his Dracula voice.

The two men grinned at each other and sat down to eat. Coral frowned as Ryan drowned his French toast in syrup. "Save some for me, kiddo." he said, reaching for the half empty bottle.

Ryan gave Coral a grin and said, "I'll think about it...maybe I'm forming a maple syrup addiction." He teased as he held the bottle out of Coral's reach.

"Give it up, little boy," Coral growled, "You don't want me to come after you again, do you?"

Ryan gave Coral a mischievous look. "It could be fun Coral."

Coral could feel his lips twitching as he tried to fight down a smile. He picked up his fork and dug into his meal. "Tempting. Very tempting, but then who's going to plan our wedding?"

Ryan grinned. "Our best men?" He grinned. "By the way...who are you choosin'?"

"I hadn't even thought that far ahead, hon." Coral said thoughtfully. "I was still thinking of flowers and cake." He grinned sheepishly. "How about you?"

Ryan passed the maple syrup back to Coral. "I'm not sure, I thought maybe Duke, but then I figured you'd ask him. Maybe Jaxon or Mutt."

Coral poured a little syrup on his food and chewed thoughtfully. Who did he feel closest to on the resort, besides Ryan? It was a tossup between Big Jake, Shorty and Duke. He wondered if he could have three best men and laughed at himself.

"Hey, Jax would make a great ring bearer!" He said suddenly. "Or," he laughed again, "We could have Jare be the ring bearer and Little Jake could throw the flower petals." he said jokingly.

Ryan looked at Coral. "If I could I'd choose you, but that wouldn't work."

"You're already my best man." Coral said, taking Ryan's hand in his own and giving the knuckles a light kiss.

Ryan smiled sweetly and he blushed. "And you're mine and you already know it. You said you were thinkin' of flowers and cake?"

"Lilies of the Valley, white and pink roses. Red carnations or roses in our lapels. And my mother used to make this fantastic cake with tiny bits of cherries and walnuts. She called it Cherry Chip cake. Buttercream frosting. Man I'm drooling just thinking about it." He laughed as he got up to clear the table.

Ryan asked, "Do you think she'd make one for us? And the flowers sound just fine." He got quiet.
Coral couldn't help but to notice the expression on Ryan's face. He put the dishes aside and sat next to Ryan. "What's on your mind, sweetheart?" He asked, concerned.

Ryan looked up with sad green eyes and said, "You have such a great family."

"We have a great family." Coral stressed. "Family isn't necessarily who you're born to, it's frequently people you find along the way, like Jeff and James and just about everyone here on this resort. My family will be your family. And I can assure you that they're going to love you as much as I do. My mother will go nuts over you."

"And I apologize in advance for my sisters. They can't help themselves. Your face will never be the same by the time they're done kissing and pinching your cheeks." He laughed.

Ryan said, "Yeah, the people here at the resort really care about me...are you sure your family...well won't object to me?" He asked a little worried that he wasn't black.

Coral saw right through what Ryan hadn't said.  

"Opal married a Latino man, Ame married a Korean, and Topie married a guy from Argentina. I don't think my family will object to your color, if that's what you're worried about." Coral said soothingly, putting an arm around Ryan's shoulders. "My dad likes to refer to our family as the miniature United Nations."

“I hope you're right, but they better not pinch my cheeks. I'll have to tell them that's reserved for you only..." He sighed. "Coral...I'm white, an alcoholic...and a brat and not always in the nice way either." He said softly.

Coral put a gentle hand on Ryan's face to make him look at him. "Honey, you're smart, you're beautiful. No one needs to know about your alcoholism unless you want them to. You've been dry for a while now, and while I know you've had cravings, you've fought them off admirably. I have a lot to be proud of in you, and my family will love you no matter what."

Ryan looked into the warm brown eyes and then threw himself into Coral's strong arms and snuggled up to him. "All right, I love you Coral, and I'm glad I won't be a problem."

"Mmmmm, I never said you weren't a problem, kiddo, just not the kind of problem you're talking about." Coral teased, hugging Ry so that he knew he was only joking.

Ryan smiled as he looked up. '"No, just a handful."

"A delicious handful." Coral said, leaning down to kiss Ryan once again. "Now... we have work to do. What do you think of a fall wedding?"

Ryan nodded. “That would be real nice Coral. Pretty with all the leaves turnin’ colors and driftin’ down and all.”

Coral smiled at the picture Ruyan described, seeing it with his mind’s eye. “Maybe we can have ballroom dancing? What do you think of that?”

Ryan thought about it. "How many of us know how to ballroom dance? Maybe we'd do better with a Peter Pan and Tinker Bell weddin'." He teased.

Coral laughed. "It just so happens I know how to ballroom dance and I'll be happy to teach you. And I'll be Peter Pan if you're Tinkerbell, complete with short green dress to match your eyes."

Ryan grinned and said, "I wouldn't mind and yes, I'd like to learn or I'll step all over your toes. Do you think the guests will know how or need to learn and have lessons too?"

"Believe it or not, Duke, James and Jeff know how to as well, and it would be fun, having dance lessons at the resort. But you're my student, and mine alone. Got it?" Coral growled.

Ryan laughed. "Jealous? Maybe it's you that better wear that little green Tinkerbell dress." He teased.

Coral's mouth twitched as he pulled up photos of himself and Ryan on the computer, after which he proceeded to use Photoshop to dress them as Tinkerbell and Peter Pan. Coral put himself in the green dress and added a blonde wig. "I dunno, Ry, I'm just not seeing it." He laughed.

Ryan took one look and broke into gales of laughter. He couldn't compose himself and had tears running from his green eyes. "Wait until I tell everyone...No I'm going to print that picture and show it all over, send it to your folks too."

Coral was pleased that he'd gotten Ryan out of his previous funk and laughed as well. He tried out several different outfits, each more outlandish than the last until the two of them were breathless and worn out from laughing.

Ryan once he got his laughter under control said, "I'm not sure who's worse, you or me."

"Oh, I'd say you. Definitely you." Coral said with mock seriousness, nodding his head as he gave Ryan a visual once over.  "Although, I do like the idea of you in a green that matches your eyes."

Ryan said, "A green suit? But I don't want to look like an elf." He pouted.

"Ohhhh, sweetheart," Coral soothed, "You wouldn't look the least bit like an elf. No, not at all. Actually, I'd say you'd be more along the lines of a leprechaun."

At Ryan's outraged look, Coral laughed again. "I'm sorry, silly boy. I meant a shirt that matches your eyes, not a full suit."

Ryan punched Coral on the arm. "Beast."  Then he said, "But a green shirt would be good with a dark brown suit."

"Nice." Coral replied, impressed. "And me? How about," he turned the computer away from Ryan for a few moments and turned it back so that Ryan could see him dressed as Jack Sparrow. "I'd say it's just about perfect, don't you?" He grinned.

Ryan looked and smiled. "You make a good lookin' Jack Sparrow. Who should I be?"

"Will Turner." Coral grinned, outfitting Ryan in the appropriate clothing. "Dashing, if I do say so myself." he said as he showed Ryan the results.

Ryan grinned. "Why don't we have the pirate theme for our announcement party and the formal stuff for the wedding? I can wear green as my pirate outfit."

"Excellent idea, hon." Coral grinned widely, his eyes glowing. He was glad that Ryan hadn't insisted that he be Tinkerbell after all.

"Hey, let's do the announcement party on Halloween, we'll host it at the lodge and everyone can dress like pirates and be part of the party even if they're working. What do you think?" Coral asked.

Ryan grinned. "You can be Tinkerbell on our wedding night." He teased.

Coral laughed out loud. "Anything for you, Peter. But don't forget, Tink was a homicidal maniac... actually, this could be fun."

Ryan smiled up at Coral, "Do you think James would let us have the announcement party down at the picnic area at the beach if we did the pirate theme? That would be really great."

"I think James would love the idea, personally. He's a very fun loving guy."

Ryan grinned. "Maybe he could be a captain or somethin' like that."

Coral laughed. "How about Captain Hook? Fits in with pirates and Peter Pan."

Ryan laughed. "Wouldn't he have to have a peg leg?  Or maybe a hook for a hand, I really don't remember...maybe both." He laughed.

"I think that's Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. I think Captain Hook only had... well... the hook." He grinned.

Ryan grinned back. "I think this will be fun Coral."

"I completely agree, Angel. Amazing what a little idea can spark. This is going to be a blast." He laughed again.

Coral took a deep breath. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been this happy, and it was all because of Ryan. He leaned toward his boy and kissed him, eyes shining.

Ryan hugged Coral tight and laid his sandy head on the other man's chest. "Thank you Coral." He said sincerely. "Will your family come?"

"I'll have to run that by James, of course, but if he says yes, then I'm sure they'll be here. I'm the only one not married at this point and I know they'd hate to miss the ceremony."

Ryan said, "I doubt James would say no. He's a pretty easy goin' guy."

"Yes he is." Coral agreed fondly. "So darlin', let's start looking at invitations." He suggested.

Ryan nodded. "All right...how about ones with a weddin' chapel?"

"You mean the ones where the doors open up to reveal the invitation? Or one with a chapel on the front and opens like a regular card?"

"The ones with the doors that open."

"Here's a nice one," Coral said, pointing to the perfect card on the computer screen. "It's really quite classy looking." He continued, impressed with Ryan's choice.  He filled out the information, took out his credit card and ordered the invitations.

 "Flowers. I was thinking, lilies of the Valley, pink and white roses, red roses for our lapels, alright?"

Ryan said, “You told me that before and sure,” He agreed to Coral's suggestions of flowers. "Those sound really great. And red roses for our wedding party too?"

"Sure." Coral replied with a smile.  Leave it to Ryan to think about other people.

"Formal wear for the wedding? Or do you want to do a country theme and wear jeans and button downs? I know we'd thought about brown suits but... well we wear brown all the time, and I think it would be nice to wear some other color." Coral said thoughtfully.

Ryan said, "Jeans and a shirt would be nice, but as you said, we wear those all the time too, we want this to be special don't we? Maybe plaid suits with solid shirts?" He asked with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

Without missing a beat, Coral replied, "We can wear plaid suits as long as we wear vertically striped orange shirts and horizontally striped red, white and blue ties. And let's not forget the yellow clown shoes."

Ryan knew Coral was teasing and said, "Don't forget the red rubber nose too."

"And purple hats with water squirting flowers in the band." Coral deadpanned.

Ryan said, "Don't forget the squirting lapel flower either.  Oh and the honking horn." He added.

"Much classier than a red rose, for certain." Coral replied, "Squirting flowers in the lapels it is, and honking horns? We can give all of our guests a horn and instead of throwing rice or confetti they can honk their horns at us."

Ryan couldn't help but laugh at this. He steered away though from mentioning the paddles they sometimes used as part of their slapstick routine.  Even though all it did was make a noise, he didn't want to give Coral any ideas.

Ryan said getting serious again, "I'll let you choose. You probably have better taste than I do."

"How about we go non-traditional hon.  Black pants, off white dinner jackets, emerald green silk handkerchiefs and matching green silk ties." The groomsmen and best men can dress in black suits with hunter green ties and handkerchiefs and roses for all of them as well as for our family members. He leered a little and whispered, "And we can use the ties for a different reason in bed."

Ryan blushed. "Coral!"

Coral laughed heartily. "Ah little boy, I do love you." He said, gathering Ryan into a hug and kissing him fondly.

Ryan snuggled into the hug and looked up at Coral. "I love you too big man...That all sounds good to me, how about food and drinks? What kind of stuff will we serve?"

"That's where Gary and Jake would come in. Out of necessity, we'd have to let them in on our secret and talk to Gary about food and of course Jake and his crew would be in charge of drinks. I'm thinking water, coffee, tea, soda and juices for beverages. 

"As far as food, Gary can cook just about anything I've ever thought of. Surf and turf? Prime rib? I know one thing that I have to have." Coral said, his eyes glittering as he imagined Ryan's response to the suggestion.

Ryan looked at Coral puzzled. "What?"

"Broccoli Rabe, the way my mother used to make it. Deeeeelicious!" he said, licking his lips as he thought about it.

Ryan's green eyes went wide as saucers. "Oh ick!" He made gagging noises. "The only way you'd get me to eat anythin' like that is to have a beer chaser...and how about beer, and wine coolers?" He asked.

Coral grew serious. "Honey, I think a dry bar would be best, so we're not going to have anything alcoholic. If people want to drink they can do it when they get back to their own homes."

Ryan frowned and argued, "Just because I can't drink doesn't mean others shouldn't if they want to. We should have at least beer and wine coolers...besides they don't have much alcohol in them."

"I'll make you a counter offer. We can have non alcoholic wine and beer. Everyone can enjoy the flavors without the alcohol. That's as far as I'm willing to go." Coral said firmly.

Ryan tried to pull away from Coral, "No...It’s not the same!"

Coral pulled Ryan back toward him, cocked his head slightly to the right and asked, "Are you planning on drinking at our wedding?"

Ryan shook his head. "No, I'm not planning to drink at all."

Coral heard Ryan stress the word 'planning' and made a decision. "We'll have different kinds of juice and soda, water, coffee and tea." He said with finality. "And we can toast with sparkling cider."

Ryan said, "It doesn't mean our friends should be forced to be dry just because I am...they should be allowed to choose to have beer or wine coolers if they want. They have them at picnics." He continued to argue.

"I said no, and I meant no, Ryan. It's time to discuss other things, now."

"And toasting with sparkling cider is gross.  A little champagne isn't going to hurt." He stated, crossing his arms.

Coral had had enough. He flipped Ryan over his lap and gave him a few moderately hard swats.  "Do we need to discuss this with you over my lap, little boy? Or are we going to drop the subject."

Ryan squeaked as Coral tipped him over his lap and yipped at the swats. "But can't we have just a little champagne for the toast Coral...please?"

Coral responded by applying three more slightly harder swats to Ryan's backside.

Ryan yelped and wriggled with the sting. "All right." He said in a disgruntled manner. "Have it your way." He tried to push off Coral's lap.

Coral held Ryan down, gently but firmly. "Our way." He stressed. "My uncle is an alcoholic. He's been dry for about ten years now, but even he admits that just the smell makes him crave a drink. I don't want you to go through that."

Ryan sighed and said dutifully, "Yes Sir, our way."

Coral rubbed Ryan's back and set him back upright slowly so that he wouldn't become dizzy. "Atta boy." He said, pulling Ryan in for a hug. He felt the boy's initial resistance and hugged him more tightly, planting a kiss on top of Ryan's sandy colored hair.

Ryan at first pouted, but at the tight hug and the kiss on his head couldn't help but snuggle and relax into the older, bigger man.

He asked, "You gonna ask Duke to be your best man?

Surprised, Coral raised his eyebrows and asked, "What's with the sudden change of subject, kiddo? What's on your mind?"

Ryan shrugged. "Just wonderin' when we should ask our best men to be best men. I’m thinking maybe I should ask Harry. We’re pretty close too. When do we need to tell Gary and will he keep it from Charles and Mike and will Jake keep it to himself and if you ask Duke to be your best man could he keep the secret? When will we have the party and we'll have to tell James, right? And will he keep it from Heath and Jax? And if I don't ask Jax or Mutt to be my best man will they be mad at me? I don't want anyone to be mad at me." He voiced all his worries at once. "What if no one wants to come because there won't be any alcohol?"

Coral smiled. "Duke can keep a secret and the others can be trusted to keep it to themselves." He laughed. "We'll have to tell Charles and Gary because they're in charge of the kitchen and the lodge. You haven't known Jax as long as you've known Harry and you don’t seem to be as close to Mutt, but it's up to you to ask who you want. I don't want to hurt Shorty, James, Jake or any of the others either, so I thought they could be part of the wedding party. Mutt, Jaxon, Adam, and Tor can be part of the ceremony also. What do you think?"

Ryan said "It sounds like a good idea." He smiled "Thanks." 

Coral hesitated before asking the question that was on his mind, but it had to be asked.

"Ry?  I know I told you that my family is your family, but I want to know... do you want to invite your family as well, or would that make you uncomfortable.  Do you think they'd come?"

Ryan thought about it for a moment and then shrugged. "I don't know. They haven't had much contact with me since I went through the academy and decided to work the shooting' range and live out there."

"Do you want to call them and ask before we send them an invitation?" Coral asked. "It's going to be a little scary, not knowing how they'll react, especially after they find out that I'm black." He laughed a little, "But it's better to know now than have them find out at the wedding, should they decide to attend."

Ryan squirmed and bit his lip. "Maybe we should visit them instead? This way they can just throw us out and then we'll know their answer."

Coral frowned, "Do you really think they'll throw us out? Why would you want to put yourself through that if that's what you think they'll do? And you can't think that I want you to go through that.  No, just call them, tell them your news.  I'll be on an extension if you want me to be. I'll stand beside you either way."

Ryan said, "We can call them, but don't expect them to be excited, and they probably won't come."

He put an arm around Ryan's shoulders, feeling the tension there.  "It will be alright, hon. No matter what.  All that matters is us.  We don't need anyone who will feel negatively towards us at the wedding and possibly cause a scene."  He hugged Ryan tightly and rubbed his lover's back, kneading the knotted muscles of his shoulders until some of the tension released.  "What do you want to do, hon? Whatever you decide is fine with me."

Ryan relaxed marginally under Coral's touch. He always felt safe and cared for with the man. "My family hasn't visited in all the four years I lived at the range. We talk a couple of times a year, like Christmas and one other holiday they choose. We can call them though."

"If that's what you want to do, then call them.  Why don't we do it now before I call my family?  Do you want me on the kitchen extension? And Ry, I mean it.  Do what you want to do.  I'm only worried about you.  Not them.  You're my first priority."

Ryan bit his lip indecisively. "'Kay." He finally said quietly.  Ryan picked up the phone and dialed his parent's number.  His mother picked up on the third ring.

Coral picked up the kitchen extension and listened in.

"Hello?" came her bright sounding voice from the other end.

Ryan asked, "Mom?"

The woman's voice lost its brightness. "Ryan? What do you want?"

Ryan said quietly, "I need to talk to you and dad. If he's there would you put him on the extension?"  Ryan could hear her muffled voice on the other end and then his father's voice came on the other line. "Ryan...is there a problem with the shooting range?"

Ryan said, "No, I just wanted you and mom to know I'm getting married.”

Coral remained silent but brought the handset into the living room to be next to Ryan. It sounded as though his lover was going to have a hard time of it and he wanted to be nearby. He could hear his father's muffled comment to his mother, "I think he's drunk again. He's saying he's getting married."

His mother uncovered her mouthpiece. "That's nice Ryan, who are you marrying?"

Ryan's temper sparked at his parents. "The biggest, meanest...black man I could find! That's who!"

There was dead silence at the end of the line.

Coral nearly lost it and laughed.  Instead he put his hand on Ryan's shoulder and shook his head slightly.  "Just talk to them nicely, hon." he whispered.

He put his arm around Ryan and hugged him closely before speaking into the kitchen handset.  "Mr. and Mrs. O'Donnell? My name is Coral Okoro.  I'm Ryan's fiancĂ©.  It's nice to finally speak with you.  Ryan has told me a lot about you." Unfortunately, nothing that endears you to me, he thought.

Ryan's mother said, "Mr. Okoro, is this a joke? You are really marrying our son?"

Ryan's father said, "Ask him if Ryan's drunk...or if they're both drunk."

"It's no joke, ma'am.  I love your son and asked him for his hand in marriage.  And no sir, neither of us is drunk.  As a matter of fact, Ryan is in recovery.  He's been sober for quite a while now. You should be very proud of him I know I am." He said, keeping his voice level.  There was no sense in irritating these people further.  He hugged Ryan a little closer and guided him down to sit on the couch.

"He has?" Ryan's father asked a bit of suspicion in his voice. "How long is long?"

He could feel Ryan shaking, either from nerves or anger, or both, and he rubbed Ry’s shoulder and arm, giving him a light kiss on the top of his head.

Ryan said, "Long enough to fall in love and find the man of my dreams and if you don't like it fuck you." He went to slam the phone down.

Ryan's mother gave a gasp at the end of the phone.

"Ryan!" Coral hissed, covering his own mouthpiece, “What part of talk nicely don't you get?  Apologize now!  Now!"

Ryan bit his lip and then took a deep breath and said into the mouthpiece, "I'm sorry Mom, Dad, it was very rude of me."

Ryan's father said, "You always had a short fuse Ryan and it sounds like this Coral fellow knows how to rein in that temper of yours."

Ryan's mother said, "Yes, it does sound like Coral's a nice man dear."

Ryan calmed down a bit. "Well I just wanted to tell you is all." He went to hang up.

Coral uncovered the phone and spoke. "I'm sorry, Mrs. O'Donnell, this isn't how I'd hoped our conversation would go.  We only called to ask if you and your husband would like to attend the ceremony. We didn't want to leave you out of what could be the happiest day of your son's life.  He wants you to be happy for him."

Ryan's parents sounded surprised as they said almost at the same time, "He wants us to come?"

"Any child wants their parents to be there on their wedding day, Mr. and Mrs. O'Donnell, and I would love to meet the two of you.  I'd like us to get off on the right foot.  Will you come?" Coral asked.

Ryan blurted out, "That's what you always say when it comes to me! If you don't want to come just say so!"

Coral frowned and gave Ryan a warning tap on his thigh and shook his head.  He took the handset from Ryan.  "Give me a moment with Ryan, please, Mrs. O'Donnell.  Please don't hang up."  He said, waiting for a reply and hoping that it wouldn't be a dial tone.

"All right Mr. Okoro, I'll hold on."

"Thank you. We won't be long." He replied before muting the handsets.

"All right, we'll wait."

"Ryan Jerome O'Donnell!  You will rein in that temper immediately.  It seems to me that you're deliberately sabotaging this phone call.  If you didn't want them to come you only had to say so and we could have avoided this unpleasantness.  I told you it was up to you if you wanted to call or not. The fact is that you did call, and now all you're doing is antagonizing them. Behave yourself, and no matter what they say, be polite. Understand me?" he demanded.

Ryan blinked at Coral's tone and words. "They think I'm drunk!" He protested.

"They thought that we were drunk." Coral reminded him, "And you heard me tell them that you've been sober for quite some time now.  You also heard me tell them that they should be as proud of you as I am, but right now, Ryan, I'm not very proud of your attitude.  We are going to get back on the phone with them, and no matter what they say, we are going to be polite. If they don't want to come that's their loss, not ours.  Now, can you be polite or do I have to give you a reminder on how to speak to people?"

Ryan's hands went back to cover his backside. "No, I don't need a reminder...I'll be polite." He said quietly.

"Then get on that phone and apologize for your rudeness.  From here on out, regardless of what they might say, you will keep your tongue civil." Coral said sternly.  "Now are you ready to speak to your parents like an adult?"

"An answer please, we don't want to keep them waiting much longer."

"Yes Sir." Ryan said quietly. He picked up his handset and unmuted it. "Mom, Dad...I'm sorry for spoutin' off."

Ryan's father said, "I'm not sure we believe that Ryan. It's the second time you’ve apologized to us in the course of this conversation."

Coral sighed and put his arm back around Ryan while he spoke to his parents. He kept his own phone on mute but continued to listen to the conversation.

Ryan took a deep breath and said, "I promise, no more bad behavior."

Ryan's father said, "Now, it sounds like the man you are going to marry is good for you son. When is the wedding?"

Ryan looked at Coral to answer.

"We were thinking early September," Coral replied, unmuting his phone.

Ryan's mother said, "That sounds like a lovely time of year. We’ll make arrangements...where is it being held?"

Ryan said, "We haven't worked out all the details mom. When we figure it out we’ll let you know in the invitation."

Ryan glanced at Coral to see if what he had said was all right.

Coral nodded encouragingly and smiled.

Ryan's mother said, "All right dear, we'll hold early September open and await your invitation to arrive with the details.

Ryan said, "Thanks Mom and you too dad."

Ryan's parents said he was welcome, then ended the call.

Ryan toss the hand set on the counter. "I hope your family is better about this than mine was."

Coral put his own handset aside more gently before getting up from the couch. He pulled Ryan up, turned him sideways and gave him five hearty swats on his backside.  "That was for mouthing off, little boy.  Your behavior at the beginning was atrocious."

He then pulled Ryan into a tight hug.  Ryan was still shaking and he rubbed his lover's back with one hand while holding his head against his chest with the other.  "But I'm proud of you for calling, and keeping your temper for the rest of the call. I'm proud of you for apologizing and for being civil toward your parents.  I know this was hard for you, but you pulled it off, Ryan." He planted a kiss on top of Ryan's sandy colored hair and rocked the younger man gently as he waited for some response.

Ryan yelped at the swats, rubbing and then put his arms around Coral snuggling close and still shaking some.

"There now, hon, the worst part is over.  I am proud of you for keeping it civil." He said, not mentioning the bad behavior again as it would have been counterproductive.  He sat down on the couch and pulled Ryan down onto his lap where he continued to rock back and forth and to rub Ryan's back until the young man's trembling stopped

Ryan said quietly, "I'm sorry Coral."

"I know, little boy.  Let's just call it done then, shall we?" Coral said softly, lifting Ryan’s face toward his and giving Ryan a passionate kiss.  "I love you, Ryan. And I'm proud of you."

Ryan melted into Coral's embrace and the kiss, returning it in full. When the other man released his mouth he said, "We gotta call your folks."

Coral laughed.  "Fair warning, put some ear muffs on because I can guarantee you that my mother is going to yell 'Hallelujah!' loud enough to make the rafters shake." He joked.

Ryan grinned. "She'll be that excited?"

"Just wait and see." Coral smiled wryly as he dialed his parent's number.  As soon as he told his mother and father the news he held the handset at arm’s length while his mother did exactly as Coral had predicted. 

"Oh, honey! I'm so glad for you!  Tell us all about him!" She continued excitedly while his father laughed in the background.

"He's sweet, funny, smart, and the love of my life.  Would you like to talk to him?" Coral said, grinning ear to ear.

Ryan grinned as Coral's parents showed their genuine excitement.

"I'd love to!" she replied excitedly.  "Put the sweet, funny, smart love of your life on the phone!"

Coral handed Ryan the phone with a warning not to put it directly up to his ear.

"So sweetheart," Mrs. Okoro said animatedly once Ryan was on the line.  "Leave it to Coral to tell us everything except your name." She said, a wide smile evident in her voice.

Ryan took the phone and put it on speaker. "Mr. and Mrs. Okoro?" He asked a little hesitantly.

"Yes, dear!  It's so nice to hear your voice!" Mrs. Okoro replied animatedly. 

"Just call us Zahra and Omari," Came the more sedate tones of Mr. Okoro, who sounded uncannily like Coral.

Ryan blushed. "Yes sir, I mean Omari.  I'm Ryan Jerome O'Donnell and...Well Coral has saved my life."

"Ryan, what a lovely name!" Zahra said.

"Saved your life?" Omari asked, "What happened?"

"Are you alright?" Zahra asked, concerned.

Coral laughed and said, "One question at a time, please folks."

Ryan could hear the concern in Zahra's voice and was touched by it.  The woman didn't even know him yet and she was already worried about him. He could see where Coral got his caring nature.

Ryan said "Yes ma'am. I mean Zahra, and yes, I'm all right now, but I think I'll let Coral explain." He looked at Coral.

"I saved Sleeping Beauty here from the vicious dragon, and woke him from his hundred year nap." Coral joked.

Ryan looked at Coral strangely. "That's not what happened Coral."

Omari and Zahra heard Ryan's confusion and laughed.  "Leave it to Coral to make a joke out of everything." Omari said, still laughing.  "It takes a pry bar to get him to tell us anything about himself."

Ryan said, "Oh...I'm sorry."

Coral muted the handsets.  “The dragon was alcohol, and I did kiss you awake, didn't I?" he smiled down at Ryan.  "I'll only tell them as much as you want me to tell them.”

"Coral? Coral! Are you there?" Came Zahra's voice.

Ryan snuggled up to Coral. "Will they think badly of me or object if we're truthful?"

"They will love you as much as I do.  From the way mom sounds, she already does.  Do you want me to tell them? It's up to you hon."

"Coral! Answer me this instant." Came Omari's demand.

Coral un-muted the phone and laughed, "Yes, mom, dad, I'm still here." He grinned.

Ryan nodded. "Go ahead." He said, afraid to hear Coral's parent's responses.

Coral told them the story of how he'd discovered Ryan's alcoholism and the conditions under which he'd been living, and how he'd taken him home and helped him.

"Oh, that poor baby!" Zahra said.  "But he's alright now?"

Omari joined in, "What's done is done, Cor.  Make sure your man knows that."

"He knows dad."

"That's my boy." The two parents said in unison before breaking into laughter.

Ryan smiled and snuggled close. He had stopped shaking and hearing the caring over the phone said quietly, "Tell them I'm all right."

"He's right as rain, now.  Healthy and loved more than he knows." He said, leaning down to give Ryan another kiss.

"So when is the wedding?" Zahra asked.

"Yes, it's about time, I'd say." Omari added.

"We were thinking early September.  Got any plans for then?" Coral asked.

"Yes, I'm afraid we do." Zahra said, sounding sad.

"Oh," Coral said, crestfallen. 

"Yes," Omari answered, “We plan on flying to Maine for a long overdue event."

Coral let out a sigh of frustration but laughed.  "We'll send you an invite then, with the directions and the time and date."

"Tell that sweetheart of yours that we can't wait to meet him!  Are you going to call your sisters or do you want me to?" Zahra asked.

"If you could I'd appreciate it.  They get kind of shrill and I don't want Ry to get scared off." He joked. 

Ryan smiled. "They sound nice, and your dad sounds just like you."

"Thank you!" Zahra said, overhearing Ryan's comment.  "Tell him he sounds nice too. Now I really have to go, I have a lot of calls to make!" she said excitedly.

"It's been nice talking to you, son.  It feels like forever since the last time.  Keep in touch more often, understand me, little boy?" Omari said.

"Yes sir." Coral laughed. "Goodbye for now." he said before he hit the end button.

"So, what do you think? Still want to marry me even though my family is insane?" He laughed, hugging Ryan and kissing him happily.

Ryan when he was able to gain his breath smiled. "Yes, they're wonderful and now I know you got your sternness from your father, little boy." He teased.

Coral laughed.  “You didn't hear that!" He commanded with a smile and a wag of his finger.  Before Ryan could tease him any further, Coral kissed Ryan hard and deeply, taking his mind off of anything other than the feelings that were coursing through his body at Coral's touch

TBC





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