Joshua sighed sadly and touched the short coarse stubble that covered his head and then sighed again and let his gaze drift down to the turquoise beads that hung around his neck. Lonnie had fastened them there on the helicopter ride back from the breeding farm. The big man had been in tears as he did up the clasp. He had pulled Joshua into his arms and sobbed, begging forgiveness. His heart had melted and he had assured Lonnie that he bore him no ill will, although he was sure that he would never be able to trust the man ever again.
Justin came up behind him and rubbed his hand over his scalp and then nuzzled his nose into his neck. “What are you planning on wearing?” he asked.
Joshua shrugged. “I’m not going. It’s bad enough that you have to see me like this. I don’t want strangers to as well.”
“I never thought of you as being selfish and vain Josh.”
“What!” Joshua's eyes blazed furiously at what Justin had just accused him of.
“I said I never thought you were selfish and vain. Ben is counting on you to present him at his wedding. He asked you! Not me, not Trystum, you. How can you think of yourself when he needs you so desperately?”
Joshua stammered not knowing what to say. How could he have been so self obsessed? Ben had come to him and asked him to be the one to remove his cloak during the ceremony; the dark haired breeder didn’t have any family. All he had was Justin, Lance, Joey, Trystum, Chris and him. “I thought I might wear my robes of office,” Joshua said softly. “They will be appropriate and I can wear them with the hood down.”
Justin kissed Joshua's neck and smiled at him through the mirror. “I knew you wouldn’t let him down. I brought you something.” Justin went over to his dresser and took out a small jewellery case. He handed it to Joshua. “Open it,” he said grinning.
Joshua opened the case and gasped. It was a circlet of gold and turquoise with a single tear shaped pearl. “It’s beautiful!”
“Let me put it on for you” Justin positioned the jewellery on Joshua's head so that the pearl hung down on his forehead. “God you are so beautiful.” Justin turned his husband to face him and traced his fingers down the side of his face. He kissed Joshua sweetly. “Get ready my angel. Ben will be waiting for you to attend him.” He kissed him once more and then left to get changed himself. Joshua turned to face the mirror once more and studied the headdress he was now wearing. It was a perfect complement to the beads that Lonnie had given him and it brought out the colour of his eyes exactly, even the single pearl teardrop hung in precisely the right position on his forehead. Suddenly he was glad that he didn’t have all his hair, the circlet would never had looked so good if it was balanced on his wild unruly curls. Joshua raised himself to his full height and smiled serenely. It was only hair and hair could grow back.
The ballroom was filled with people as he walked behind Ben down to the altar. Both of them carried a bouquet made up of red roses and their full length robes swished with every step. Chris was standing shifting nervously from foot to foot as he watched their progress down the aisle. Justin stood next to him, his eyes filling up as he watched their progress. He remembered his own wedding and the shock of seeing Joshua naked for the first time. He smothered a snigger wondering if Chris had been warned and he slipped his hand into his pocket testing the weight of the small camera he had hidden there so he could capture his old friend’s reaction.
As they reached the altar Joshua looked up shyly and blushed under Justin's appreciating stare. He lowered his eyes again and stood listening for his cue.
Joshua walked around to the front of Ben and lowered his hood, revealing his face. He placed a kiss on his cheek and then pulled loose the tie that held his robe closed and slid them off his shoulders leaving the breeder nude. “Breathe,” he whispered in Ben’s ear as he returned to his place behind him, the robe now folded neatly over his arm. The naked breeder looked up and met the eyes of his husband to be.
Chris was breathing rapidly, almost hyperventilating and Justin was standing grinning like a Cheshire cat, his camera in his hand. The pastor gave a polite cough and both breeder and non breeder placed their attention on him.
Joshua's eyes filled up and he dabbed at them with a small lace handkerchief throughout the vows and almost too soon the happy couple were bound together with a band of white silk.
There was a round of applause and Chris took his husband in his arms and kissed him. The two walked down the aisle through the congratulating guests followed by Joshua who was still carrying Ben’s robe and Justin.
Ben trembled, not through cold as the heating had been turned up so that the naked breeder wouldn’t be uncomfortable or look blue in his photographs, but through nerves. Justin paused at the bottom of the stairs and watched as Chris and Ben ascended the stairs followed closely by his husband. He wasn’t allowed to go any further but Joshua's duties were still to be completed. He had to accompany the couple to their bedchamber and then wait outside until the marriage had been consummated, then and only then could he return to the ensuing party.
As they reached he door to their room the couple paused and Ben kissed Joshua thankfully. “Thank you it meant so much to me to have you bare me.”
“Where do you want me to wait?” Joshua asked.
Ben blushed. “Maybe you could wait at the top of the stairs for me, you know.” Ben blushed bright red and ducked his head into Chris’ chest.
Joshua giggled and held out the robe so that when they had finished Ben could be clothed again. “I’ll wait just over there then,” he said bashfully.
He had been sitting on the top stair for about five minutes when Justin joined him. “You are not supposed to be up here. It’s your duty to see to the guests and make sure they are enjoying themselves.”
Justin sat on the step next to him and lifted him onto his lap. “They can look after themselves for a bit. I have a husband that needs some attention too because he is sitting all alone while everyone else is enjoying themselves.”
Joshua snuggled into Justin and sighed. “It was a beautiful ceremony. Ben looked lovely.”
“I only had eyes for you,” Justin confided.
Justin's hand rested on the small bump that was beginning to show. “I wonder if we will have a boy or a girl.”
“Does it matter to you?” Joshua asked worriedly.
“Not at all, I just think we should prepare for both. We don’t want a repeat of last time.”
“I still think Jeremy is a perfectly good name for a little girl,” Joshua said seriously.
Justin chuckled and kissed Joshua's throat. “Well why don’t we pick a name that can be used for both boy and girl just in case.”
Joshua pouted and gave a huge sigh. “What were you thinking of?”
Justin lifted his husband’s chin so that he could look at his face. “I was thinking of Jordan, Jamie or Leah.”
“Leah is nice, I like Leah.”
“Leah it is then, it’s just spelt different for a boy its spelt L.E.E. and not L.E.A.H.”
Joshua never answered instead he just rested his head against Justin's shoulder.
“What are you thinking about baby, I thought you liked the name?”
“I wasn’t thinking about that,” Joshua whispered. “I was thinking about my father. I want to see him.”
Justin swallowed and brought his hand up to stroke the back of Joshua's head.
“It’s just that Jemima is crawling now and with me being pregnant again I realised I haven’t seen him in so long and despite everything I do love him.”
Justin sighed and kissed his husbands stubble topped head. “I can’t promise Josh but I will see what I can do. Maybe Lance can arrange something.”
“But you don’t talk to Lance anymore. Well not since he and Joey talked Lonnie into …”
“Don’t worry about that. You let me worry about my relationship with Bass-Fatone. He owes you and he will pay.”
Joshua sat upright. “Don’t get into a fight with him again please. Not today. It hurts me to see you fighting and it upsets daddy too.”
“I’m not the one that endangered his husband Josh.”
Joshua laid his head back down. “I know but I think that we should understand why he did it. If he hadn’t we would still be living in fear of abduction and Stevie would still be locked in a breeding pen forced to have baby after baby till he died. It was a calculated risk and Lonnie was always with me.”
“Is there no hate in your heart Joshua?”
Joshua looked up again and lifted his lips to his husband’s. “I’m a breeder Justin not a soldier we are not taught to hate.” The two kissed passionately then sat making out on the top stair until a polite cough behind them made them pull apart.
“Aren’t we the ones that are supposed to be all lovey-dovey?” Chris asked grinning all over his face, behind him stood Ben looking all flushed and blissfully happy.
“Why should you get all the fun CK? I got the best looking bridesmaid all alone and thought I ought to take advantage of him.”
The foursome went back downstairs and was welcomed by another round of applause. Ben was swiftly swept away by the other breeders in attendance and Chris was dragged reluctantly away to partake in a heavy drinking session with the rest of the Alphas.
The atmosphere thickened and the whole room went quiet as two new guests arrived. Lonnie and his new lover hovered in the doorway looking awkward until Ben rushed up and greeted them both.
Joshua rested a restraining hand on his husbands arm and looked at him pleadingly. “I forgave him long ago Justin, why can’t you?” The breeder fiddled with the string of turquoise that hung around his neck and Justin suddenly realised where he had got it from.
Joshua let go of Justin's arm and walked calmly over to his former bodyguard and greeted him with a kiss. “I’m glad you came Lonnie.” He turned to the man’s lover. “You look well Stevie.”
“The green-eyed boy smiled shyly and hung onto his lover’s arm. “I feel safe with Lonnie and we are having a baby.”
Joshua clapped his hands and hugged both men affectionately. “I’m so pleased for both of you. That is great news.”
Justin watched thought slitted eyes as his husband chatted excitedly with the pair. Throwing back his drink he strutted up to the African bodyguard and stood nose to nose with him.
Joshua gasped and took hold of Justin's arm a plea on his lips. Justin turned and looked at him sternly and Joshua let go and backed off a few paces.
“I should have killed you for what you put him through.”
Lonnie nodded understandingly.
“But for some reason Josh forgives you.”
Lonnie nodded once again.
Justin looked over his shoulder at where Joshua stood with his arm around Stevie, whispering words of comfort into the young man’s ear.
“Do you love him?” Justin asked bluntly.
“More than I ever could imagine,” Lonnie answered.
“And what would you do to any man that endangered him?”
“I would kill him.” Lonnie stared back at Justin.
“Then you know why I can’t forgive you?”
Lonnie grunted yes.
“But I do understand,” Justin added.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
Justin glared at the former bodyguard. “And that will make everything alright will it?”
“No,” Lonnie admitted. “But it’s a start.”
Justin stared at the big man for a while and then looked over his shoulder at his husband who was waiting and watching with wide innocent eyes.
“One drink then.”
The whole room let out a collective breath as Lonnie and Justin walked towards the bar with their lovers trailing behind them.