“JC don’t!” Joey yelled. All he could think of was sparing JC anymore heartache. He caught up with the slender man too late to stop him.
JC stood staring at the beautiful wedding reception that Justin had arranged for him. He walked around all the tables looking at the food that had been laid out for their guests stopping at the table where the wedding cake stood. His jaw twitched as he reached out and traced his fingers over the icing ribbon that swirled around the four layers and picked a pink bud from the second layer. He brought it to his nose, sniffing it as if he expected the lovely sugar bloom to have a scent. Carefully he replaced it in the precise place that he had taken it from and turned to leave.
As he turned his eyes fell on the altar and an anguished cry escaped his lips. Trance like he walked to the floral covered arched trellis that was meant to have been his wedding altar. He reached out touching it, checking it was really there and his tortured mind was not just playing cruel tricks on him. As his fingers connected he fell to his knees and began to sob.
Joey moved behind him and tried to place his hands on his shoulders, offering silent support and strength but JC shrugged him off.
“Leave me Joey,” He whimpered. “Please I want to be alone.”
“Come back to the house JC. I can’t leave you here, not like this.” Joey was using every ounce of strength he had not to break down in sympathy with his frail best friend.
“Please Joe, don’t make me beg. Leave me to my grief.” JC looked up through tear filled eyes. “I’ll be ok. I just need to be alone.”
Joey hesitated, the last thing he wanted to do was leave JC alone." I’ll be in the house if you need me,” he said kindly. As he left the marques he looked again at where JC knelt surrounded in flowers. This was meant to have been the happiest day of his life, one that he would never forget. Now he wouldn’t forget it but for the wrong reasons. Today would now forever be the day that JC’s heart died.
“When I get my hands on Justin I’m going to rip him a new fucking ass hole for putting JC through this. Are you sure you haven’t heard from him?” Joey was past worried now, he was furious. It had been nearly a week and there had still been no news of Justin. The police hadn’t even been able to trace his car. The big man towered over Trace menacingly.
“Dude if I knew where the guy was I would tell you. Do you think I like seeing JC suffering like this? The guy is falling apart. I’m seriously beginning to worry about his mental health. He spends all day in that damn tent.”
“I think maybe we should have it taken down now. It’s been six days.” Joey waited for Trace’s opinion.
“That would be so wrong. The only person that can decide that is JC. We don’t have the right.”
The phone started to ring and Joey grabbed it. “Hello,” he barked.
Trace frowned as Joe’s face crumpled. The big man hung up breathing hard and blinking furiously.
“I have to talk to JC.”
Trace grabbed Joey's arm. “Tell me,” he demanded.
“They found Justin. He’s dead.”
Joe dropped to the ground by JC’s side. The slim brunette was sitting cross-legged beneath the floral arch. The blooms had started to wilt and die but in JC’s eyes they were still as beautiful as the day they had been picked.
“Go away Joe,” JC whispered softly.
“I can’t babe. I wish to god I could but I can’t. The police called.”
JC’s eyes lit up and he lifted his head, excitement showing in his shaking voice. “They found Justin? Is he ok? Where was he?”
Joe bit his lip fighting to contain the tears that were waiting to fall. “Jace, I’m sorry. Oh god how do I tell you this?” Joey pulled at his hair, swallowing hard to rid himself of the lump that was growing in his throat. “He’s dead Jace. Justin is dead.”
The slim man got to his feet shaking his head. “No.” he gasped. “No … no Justin isn’t dead. He can’t be. It’s a mistake. It’s someone else.”
“They want you to go down and identify the body, I said I’d do it but they want you.” Joey reached out to comfort the older man but was shrugged away.
“Good ... That’s good. Then I can tell them that it’s not Justin and they can get off their butts and go find him.” JC took deep breaths and scrubbed at the tears rolling down his face. I want to go now.”
Joey closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. “Jace …” the bearded man stopped himself from saying what he already knew. The police had made it clear that the identification was only a formality. Justin had been found in his car with his wallet intact. “Ok JC lets go and get this over with.”
The coroner’s heels clicked on the tiled floor as JC and Joey and the detective in charge of Justin's case followed her into the morgue. The body had already been prepared and was lying on a steel table covered in a plain white cloth. As JC drew level he began to hyperventilate. Joey's gentle hand touched his arm and he looked up into the soft brown eyes that seemed to be permanently fluid. His mouth trembled and he looked down at the cloth covered form.
“I’m scared,” he whimpered. He looked back at Joe tears rolling down his face.
“Are you ready?” the detective asked.
Joey nodded and stood closer to JC, holding his shoulders. The detective pulled back the sheet and JC's legs gave way and he would have fallen if Joey hadn’t caught him.
“I’m sorry,” the detective said, “I have to ask you. Is this your lover? Is this Justin Timberlake?”
JC nodded, sobbing uncontrollably.
Joey and JC listened in silence as the detective explained how Justin had died. Contrary to their hopes his death had been long and painful. The post mortem had revealed that Justin had been tortured over a series of days before he was eventually killed. His killer had taken his time, raping and torturing at his or her leisure. Then they had taken the time to clean up the body, washing Justin with disinfectant, cleaning and clipping his nails, even washing out his anus and ensuring there was no semen left to be used as a clue.
The detective saw them out promising to keep them informed of developments. JC was working on automatic pilot. Justin his beautiful lover had been murdered on what should have been their wedding day. As he got into Joey's SUV he opened his hand and looked at the ring that the detective had given to him. It had been found in Justin's throat. It was a simple platinum band and inside was engraved, this ring is like our love JC, never ending. JC clenched his fist tightly around the metal and began to cry again.