Chapter 6

May 11th, 1964

Adam and Pete arrived that morning. Ennis and Jack had both been outside; Ennis was in the fields and Jack in the office. Becky answered the knock on the door, and was greeted by the two men, both quite tall. One had light brown hair and brown eyes, the other had black hair and grey eyes. They were both quite attractive, and the irony of that fact was not lost on her.

"Howdy, ma'am," said the brunette, sweeping off his hat and smiling. "Adam Wilson. This is Pete Richards."

"Hi," greeted Becky, also smiling and offering her hand. "Becky Twist." Instead of shaking her hand, they took turns to kiss it and Pete produced from behind his back a bouquet of red flowers.

"Hope you like 'em, ma'am. Scarlet Carnations, Ohio's state flower."

She blushed and took the beautiful flowers, utterly charmed. "Thank you, that's real nice of ya. Come on in."

She led them through the house and just as they walked through the back door, they saw Jack and Ennis taking a break together, slowly walking aimlessly with their thumbs hooked through each others' belt loops, talking softly. Adam cast a sidelong look at his own partner, knowing exactly how it felt to be so in love with someone.

"Ennis, Jack," Becky called out. They turned and Jack grinned when he saw who she had with her. They walked over to their guests and exchanged warm greetings.

"Hey guys, good to see ya," said Jack as he stepped back from his hug with Adam. Ennis was busy shaking Pete's hand and asking him how he was. Having already seen for himself that Adam and Pete were just like Jack and himself, not at all like how he'd long perceived gay men to be like, he had soon become a lot more comfortable around them, and was genuinely glad to see them.

"So what's new?" asked Adam as they all sat down to coffee.

"Well, as you see for yerself, Becky's livin' here now."

Adam turned to look at Becky. "Yeah, you did say somethin' 'bout family troubles on the phone..."

She nodded. "I, uh...I'm pregnant," she said simply; no point beating around the bush. "So my daddy kicked me out and these two came to my rescue."

"Yer pregnant? Well, congratulations then," smiled Pete. "When ya due?"

"January second. I'm just about four weeks gone."

"Well, guess you guys are gonna be uncles, huh?" grinned Adam.

Ennis and Jack went red. "I guess so. We still got the space to put ya up, though, don't worry."

"Aw, hell, Jack. Ain't no cause to worry. We ain't gonna kick out no woman, 'specially not one who's expectin'. That ain't right."

"Well anyway, we got two rooms free. We're gonna be turnin' the twin room into a nursery at some point, but we got one spare double. 'Fraid the master belongs to me an' Ennis," Jack replied, eyes twinkling at Ennis, who blushed even deeper. At least they were surrounded by people who understood.

"Know exactly what ya mean, Jack," said Adam, looking at Pete pointedly, who just rolled his eyes with a smirk.

That afternoon, Adam and Pete joined Ennis and Jack in the fields. Becky was in the office plucking up the courage to pick up the phone. Jack had asked her about calling her mother, after she had pointed out that her mother hadn't given any indication that she'd wanted her to leave. She figured she might as well let her mother know that she was alright and settled.

She sighed, picked up the receiver and dialled the number. Her father was likely to be at work, so her mother should be alone in the house.

Someone picked up. "Hello?"

Tears pricked Becky's eyes. "Mama?"

"Becky? Honey, thank goodness! Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, mama, you don't need to worry 'bout me."

"Where are you?"

"I...I can't tell ya, in case it gets back to my daddy. I just wanted to let ya know I'm okay."

"Okay...what about the baby?"

"I'm keepin' it, mama. Gonna raise it."

"Alone?"

"Nope...see, that's the thing. You remember Jack?"

"Yes..."

"I'm livin' with him, an' his partner. They're livin' together, in another state. Came an' picked me up from Texas themselves. After I got kicked out." Becky said the last part with some venom.

Her mother sighed. "I tried to get him to change his mind, to think 'bout this, but he don't listen. I thought to check around all the motels around, tryin' to find ya. By the time I got to the one where you was stayin', you'd already gone."

"Yeah...I wasn't there long."

"Becky...have you called...?"

"No, not yet..."

"Are you gonna? You really should."

"I know. I will. Just hard, you know? After everythin'...I still think on that day a lot, you know. When you told me..."

"It wasn't easy. But you was eighteen, old enough to know the truth. Yer so strong, Becky. Stronger than ya realise. An'...if you think you can do this...I got faith in ya."

"Thank you, mama," Becky whispered. "You know...if you wanna come visit sometime...but only if you don't tell my daddy where."

"Maybe. I'd sure like to see ya. I'd better go. Give my best to Jack an'...his partner."

"I will. Love ya, mama."

"Love you too."

Becky hung up and rested her chin on her hand, staring out of the window as she thought deeply. She could just make out her two cowboys riding up towards where they kept the cattle, Adam and Pete following them. Two couples, all deserving of love, no matter who with. And unfortunately, there were people out there who would condemn them for it.

Just like another couple, long ago. One life destroyed by homophobia, the other not far behind. She'd thought about asking around, trying to see if Rich was indeed here, as she suspected. But she wasn't sure what she'd find if she did. She knew he'd be happy to get to know her, but what would he say? What deep, dark secrets of her family would he have locked away in his memory?


Ennis was busy in the stables mucking out stalls while Jack, Adam, Pete and a few hands were out fixing fences out by the cattle. Becky was still in the office on the phone to their customer from Albany who wanted to borrow their bull, Samuel Peterson. He was impressed by what he'd seen when he'd visited and was arranging a time to collect the bull. Jack had praised Ennis for clinching the deal and showing that his natural knowledge about livestock was a key part of their business. Jack was always trying to get Ennis to see that he wasn't dumb as he often said, and that he made the ranch function.

Ennis tried to believe Jack's words, but since nobody had ever praised him for his work as much as Jack did, it was hard for him to let go of that part of his mind that doubted himself; the part that had come about when he'd had to drop out of high school. He seemed to be under the impression that because of his lack of education, he was a dumb country hick who had no prospects and no hope in life. Jack pointed out that even though neither of them had much education to their names, they weren't thick. They had some life experience, and that could help them far better than a degree. They were young, but the development of their relationship had forced them to grow up quickly, and now it was paying off.

Ennis had a warm feeling in his stomach; it had been there since the seventh, since he'd told Becky of his proposal plans. He couldn't wait until next month and hoped Becky could find someone to make rings for them. He had a good idea of what he wanted, something meaningful. He'd caught himself staring at Jack even more than usual lately, and he knew that Jack had caught him staring more than once. The way Jack moved, things he did...Ennis watched him as much as possible, and wondered at how on earth it was possible to love someone so much that it felt like his heart would burst with it. Jack had been so good to him. Ennis knew that when Jack wanted something, he got it, and was immensely thankful that Jack had wanted him, and had gone after him with everything he had.

He went into Star's stall and noticed she was scuffing her hooves around and seemed restless. He frowned at her behaviour and cautiously moved towards her.

"What's up, girl?" he whispered in his soft horse-voice, the voice that he always used to calm antsy animals. She stopped moving and he rubbed her nose with his large hand, looking into her eyes and whispering to her. She whinnied softly and turned her head towards her stomach, as if telling him to look there. He moved towards her stomach and noticed it seemed a little bigger than usual. He pressed a hand there gently and could definitely feel something in there.

He smiled, knowing that Jack would love this.

"Well now, girl," he said, moving back to her face. "Ain't that somethin', huh?" He gave her a carrot from his pocket. He looked over at Signal, who had been watching him, and smirked. He went over and rubbed at his nose too, also giving him a treat. "Good job, boy." Signal bumped his nose against his cheek in response.

The sound of hooves drew his attention. Jack was riding up to the stables on Lightning, who was technically Ennis's horse but he didn't mind. They owned this place and its stock together, after all. Jack dismounted and let Lightning in, grinning when he saw Ennis.

"Hey there, cowboy." He moved forward and planted a kiss on Ennis's lips before leading Lightning in and unsaddling him. Ennis leaned against the stall door, mesmerised by Jack's body as he moved. Jack felt Ennis's eyes on him and went red, but continued his little show, making sure that his ass moved as much as possible. When he was done, he felt Ennis take his hand and before he knew it, he was presses up against the stable wall, his lips crushed under Ennis's and their bodies pressed together at the chest, groin and thigh. He moaned and pulled Ennis nearer, letting their tongues say hello to each other and each others' mouths.

Ennis finally let him go to breathe and rested his forehead against his, eyes dark with desire and, by the feel of things, very aroused. Jack stared into his eyes, mouth slightly open. With no more words, Ennis pulled Jack into the tack room and before Jack could register anything, he was facing the wall, pants around his knees and Ennis thrusting into him from behind. Jack's hands were flat against the wall and Ennis was holding him tight around the waist so his knees didn't buckle underneath him.

"Oh God..." Jack gasped. "Ennis...oh fuck..."

"Oh God, Jack..." Ennis kissed the back of Jack's neck as he sped up. Jack groaned loudly and was whispering Ennis's name over and over. Ennis's right hand slipped from his waist and began to stroke him off in time to his thrusts. Jack gasped and started shaking violently, bucking against Ennis and finally shooting at the wall as Ennis let go inside him. They stood there for a while, breathing heavily. Finally, Ennis pulled out and they cleaned themselves up as best they could with a hidden rag they'd put here for exactly this purpose.

Jack helped Ennis muck out the rest of the stalls, not wanting to be away from him for too long. Jack was overjoyed when Ennis told him about Star being pregnant and joked that Becky might think Star was stealing her thunder. Ennis put his arms around Jack and held him close, hands tangling loosely in his hair and pressing soft kisses on his face and lips. Jack twined his fingers around the curls and felt the love course through him like a life force.


The next day, Becky went into town to try and locate someone who would be able to make Ennis and Jack rings. She sure hoped she did; they deserved it. She talked to Bill and Mary, who mentioned a few jewellers in town, and a silversmith who might be able to help. She took Ennis's truck as it wouldn't jostle her, and the road to Sandersville was smooth anyway.

Back at the ranch, Ennis was just exiting the barn to see Jack and Pete walking across the land, talking amongst themselves. As he watched, he saw Jack put an arm around Pete, looking sympathetically at him.

Ennis felt a surge of jealousy, and the blood was rushing in his ears. He thought that they were past all this. Jack had told him that he would never cheat on him, for he loved him. Ennis had believed him, and all the things Jack had done in the past were done with, buried in the past where they belonged.

Or so he'd thought. He watched them walk off towards the barn and fought the prick of tears in his eyes. Here he was, planning a proposal, his friend out in town looking for someone who could help and...Jack was here, with his arm around another guy. He didn't know where Adam was but he was starting to see red. He stalked off in the direction of the barn and found them sitting on a hay bale, Jack's arm still around Pete, who looked tearful. But Ennis was blinded by rage.

"Jack? I need to talk to you. Now."

Jack's brow furrowed at Ennis's harsh tone, and the look on his face. Pete went outside to go and find Adam, and Jack stood up.

"What's wrong?"

Ennis looked into his eyes, alarming Jack with the angry look in them. "What the hell's goin' on with you an' Pete?" he ground out, fists clenched. It wasn't often these days that his temper reared up, but if anything was going to induce it, it was this.

Jack's mouth fell open. "What?"

"I saw ya, with yer arm around him, lookin' at him the way ya did. What the hell you playin' at, Jack?"

"Ennis! Ain't nothin' goin' on. I was just comfortin' him 'cos -"

"An' how long until that turns into comfort sex, huh?" he growled, glaring daggers at Jack.

Jack's own temper reared up, but arguing wasn't going to solve it. He took a calming breath. "Ennis, lemme explain..."

Ennis held a hand up. "Don't wanna hear it. Just...leave me alone." He walked out and mounted Lightning, who he'd left outside as he'd been going about his business. He rode off swiftly, but Jack was already saddling up Signal and quickly gave chase. He knew where Ennis would have gone.

And he was right. He reached the field of heather on the hill, tied Signal to a tree at the base where Lightning was grazing and climbed the hill. Ennis was sat there, looking out towards Sandersville. A few steps closer and Jack heard him sniffing. His heart sank and any anger he still felt evaporated. He knew that Ennis had been like that only because he loved him and didn't want to lose him.

He sat down next to Ennis, who had tear tracks on his face, eyes swollen and bloodshot. He sighed and put an arm around Ennis, pulling him close.

After a few seconds, Ennis whispered, "I'm sorry, Jack."

"S'alright...I know why you acted like that back there."

Ennis sniffed. "I don't wanna lose you...I can't..."

"You ain't gonna."

Jack pushed Ennis up off him and tilted his chin up, making him meet his eyes. Jack leaned in and kissed him softly. With his thumbs he wiped the tears from Ennis's cheeks and then his eyes, while Ennis got his shaky breathing under control.

"Will ya let me explain?" whispered Jack. Ennis nodded.

"I was in the house, usin' the bathroom. Pete was in the kitchen gettin' a drink. I saw he was lookin' distracted an' asked him what was wrong. He told me he'd tried callin' his daddy now his mama's just died, but his daddy don't want nothin' to do with him. Called him a...well, a few names we're familiar with. I got him talkin', an' it turns out his daddy beat on him when he was a kid, an' he moved out soon as he could, fended fer himself."

Ennis was silent, the guilt over his anger eating away at him.

"He's talked to Adam 'bout all this, o'course, but there's only so much one man can do. I told him 'bout my childhood, a bit of what my daddy put me through, an' that I know how it feels. He was real glad to talk to someone who understood."

Jack was running his thumbs over Ennis's hands as he spoke, both of their heads down.

"He told me how glad he was to have Adam, an' I told him...I told him how glad I am that I got you. We was singin' the praises of you an' Adam, an' how much we love ya. So there," he finished. "That's what all that was about back there."

"I'm sorry, Jack..." Ennis whispered again. Jack once again lifted his chin up.

"Ennis...listen to me. I ain't ever gonna cheat on ya, okay? Ever. I can't do that to someone I love so much. Here, sweetheart..." He brought Ennis's right hand to rest over his heart, and put his own over Ennis's, and they felt their hearts beat in unison, as they had in a small motel in Texas nearly a year ago.

"I love you, Ennis," Jack said softly.

"Love you too, Jack," he replied shakily. ""Yer...yer everythin' to me. I can't lose ya, darlin', I just can't."

"Yer everythin' to me, too." Jack put his arms around Ennis in a loving embrace, feeling Ennis put his arms around him and clinging to him. He nuzzled into Ennis's neck and held him that way for a long time, the strong smell of the heather wafting up all around them.


Becky drove through town aimlessly, hoping to find someone who would be able to make rings for Ennis and Jack, but she wasn't entirely sure where to start. She still didn't know the town very well, nor what kind of services were available. And it wasn't as if she'd ever done anything like this before. Still, Ennis was counting on her and she was determined to do something for him and Jack, after everything they'd done, and were yet to do.

She was growing hungry and decided to get herself some lunch, walking into Ennis and Jack's favourite diner. As it was the middle of a weekday, it was pretty quiet.

"Hey there, honey," said the waitress when she came over. "What can I get ya?"

Becky settled on cheeseburger and fries, something she hadn't eaten much of before, but she was eating for two now and her appetite reflected this.

She was sipping her milkshake, pondering over where to look next, when she looked up to see Rick Hardeman, their doctor, walk in, clearly taking a lunch break. She smiled and gave a little wave when he met her eyes.

"Hey there, Becky," he said when he approached. "Eating well, I see." He nodded his approval.

"Sure am, I ain't never been hungry so often in my life. You wanna join me? I kinda need some help with somethin'."

"Uh, sure." He sat down opposite her and the waitress took his order. When his salad arrived they made small talk about the baby and how she was coping. She said she was extremely grateful to Ennis and Jack for helping her, and Rick pointed out that despite what some people may think of them, they were decent guys.

"So," he started as they were finishing up. "What did you need help with?"

"Well...I'm kinda lookin' for somethin', but if I tell you what, you gotta promise me you won't tell no-one."

"Okay..."

"Do you...know anybody in town who...might be able to make a pair of weddin' bands? Fer guys?"

He met her eyes and immediately realised on whose behalf she was asking. He got a little smile on his face at the thought of Ennis and Jack making such a commitment to each other.

"Well...I do happen to know a silversmith. It's my sister, actually. Kate Hardeman. She lives on the edge of town and works there too. What kind of rings are you looking for?"

"Well...I dunno actually. See...Ennis is plannin' it, an' he don't really know much of rings, he says. Just wants to find someone who can help an' take it from there. Would yer sister make rings for two guys?"

"I have a feeling she would. I know she's not homophobic or anything, so...it'll probably be okay. Tell you what, you got some paper?"

She found some in her bag and handed it over, along with a pen. He wrote down the address of his sister and told her that she was there all day, so she could pop over anytime.

Becky thanked him for joining her for lunch and drove off towards the address he gave her. It really was on the outskirts of the city, a couple of miles from the last of the buildings. It was a small, modest house, a little run down but it looked cosy enough. There was a barn next to the house, which she surmised must be Kate's work area.

She parked up and went in, following the sound of metal being shaped.

"Hello?" she called.

"I'm in the back," a woman's voice answered.

Becky walked through and sure enough, in the back area stood a young woman, maybe a little older than herself, with black hair tied back in a loose braid. Her face was slightly covered with soot and her deep blue eyes were focused on her work.

She looked up when Becky walked in. "Hi."

"Hi, Kate Hardeman?"

"Yep, what can I do fer ya?"

"I'm Becky Twist. I, uh...could we talk outside? I'm pregnant, an'..."

"Oh! Sure, come on," said Kate immediately. They walked outside into the fresh air. Becky proceeded to tell Kate where she was from, and that she was a friend of her brother's. She then told Kate about Ennis and Jack.

"So basically, Ennis wants a pair of rings made, but he don't know what he's lookin' for. There's nearly a month to go, so..."

"Well," said Kate thoughtfully. "I'd be happy to help, once he knows what he wants. Maybe you can tell him where I'm at, an' get him to come see me himself?"

Becky nodded. "Sure, I think that'd be fine. Thanks, Kate. I'm sure he'll be real happy to know there's someone here willin' to help."

Kate smiled. "Sure thing. Have him come over whenever. Give my best to my brother, okay? An' good luck," she finished, nodding at Becky's stomach.

Becky thanked her and made her way back to the ranch. When she arrived, she could see Ennis and Jack standing at the stable doors. Jack had his hands on Ennis's shoulders and was talking to him in a low voice, eyes looking deep into Ennis's. She wondered what had happened that day while she'd been gone. She hoped there hadn't been any trouble.

But then Jack smiled and leaned forward, kissing Ennis gently before heading into the stable. Becky smiled at their affection for each other, and then Andy crossed her mind. She wasn't entirely sure if she would ever see him again. She knew she loved him, but who knew how he might react to her current situation? Could they ever get back together? Would he be able to raise another man's child?

She shook her head and walked towards Ennis, who was rubbing the back of his neck and looking sheepish. She relayed to him her conversation with Rick, and her meeting with Kate. He was surprised to learn about the existence of a female blacksmith, but he agreed to meet her and see if she could help.


Jack was brushing his teeth in the bathroom that night, when Ennis came in and wrapped his arms around him, kissing the back of his neck. Jack knew it was another apology for earlier. When they'd returned to the stables, he'd taken hold of Ennis's shoulders, and once more reassured him that he loved him and would never cheat on him or leave him. Ennis had nodded, trying to have faith in the words, and Jack had smiled and kissed him before going in.

Jack finished and spat into the sink, putting his toothbrush back and covering Ennis's arms with his own. They looked at themselves and each other in the mirror. They looked right together; they fit together. Jack smiled.

Ennis removed his hands from Jack and took his hand; lacing their fingers together and leading him back out into the bedroom, turning off the light as they passed. They crawled into bed and lay there, silent for a while.

"Jack?"

"Hmm?"

"Can you, um..."

"What?" Jack turned to look at him. Ennis's eyes were dark and unreadable.

"I, um..."

"Ennis?"

"Yeah?"

"You want me inside ya?" After all the time they'd been together, Jack could read him like a book. Most of the time when Ennis wanted Jack inside him, he was able to ask, able to form the words. But Jack suspected that today's events left him more vulnerable than usual. Jack was happy to provide comfort for Ennis, just as Ennis had done for him back in Casper last October after Alma's visit.

Ennis nodded in relief, a hesitant grin on his face. Jack rolled onto his side and propped himself up onto his elbow, looking down at him. He looked vulnerable in the darkness, like a lost, scared little boy that Jack knew he must have been once. He leaned down and kissed Ennis softly, whispering, "Okay."

Ennis rolled onto his side, facing away from Jack, inviting him into that secret place that only he had been, and only he would ever be. Jack had always been humbled by the fact that Ennis trusted him enough to let him do this. No, Ennis didn't just let him do it because it was what Jack wanted, but he wanted Jack to do it. He wanted to feel Jack complete him and trusted Jack completely.

Jack grabbed the lube on the bedside table and quickly prepared himself. He scooted closer so his erection was just touching at the entrance to his lover.

He wrapped one arm around Ennis's waist to hold him steady, and snaked the other under Ennis's neck, giving him a bit of neck support. "Okay?" he whispered into Ennis's ear.

"Yeah."

Jack slowly pushed in, giving Ennis time to get used to every inch and holding him tight with his arm. Ennis willed himself to stay calm and let Jack in, pushing back to let him in and feeling Jack sheathing himself all the way. Ennis sighed and felt Jack kissing the back of his neck as he slowly began to thrust. Jack's cheek was now rubbing against his neck, nuzzling and worshipping his body as if it was the most precious thing in the world, and to him it was.

Jack was whispering words of love into his ear and he was arching back towards him, his groin aching for release. He let go of the sheets with one hand where he'd been clutching them, and moved it back towards Jack's ass, pulling him closer as they moved together in perfect rhythm. There was almost no sound in the room, only heavy breathing and Jack's whispered words as he continued to thrust. Jack felt right at home inside Ennis, like he had always been meant to be there, like Ennis had always seemed meant to be inside him. They had found a home with each other, in more ways than one.

Ennis's hand on his ass wandered over to the crack between his cheeks, and Jack couldn't believe the incredible sensations that came from him being inside Ennis while Ennis continued to stroke his prostate. Jack thought he would explode from how good it felt. He slipped his hand from Ennis's waist to stroke his erection in time to his thrusts, and they continued to move together while stroking each other. Jack couldn't recall them ever doing it quite like this before.

Jack suddenly tensed up and released into Ennis at last, gasping for breath and still managing to jerk Ennis off rapidly, finally feeling Ennis spill into his hand and onto the sheets. He brought his hand back up to Ennis's waist, holding him steady as he rode it out. They could both see stars and their minds had been wiped clean of all coherent thought.

They finally came down from cloud nine and lay there for a while, their breathing slowly returning to normal and their bodies starting to cool down. The sheets had been kicked down the bed at some point and now Jack brought them back up to cover them both.

"You okay?" he whispered to Ennis, always mindful of the fact that he was less used to being receptive than himself. And he was especially concerned about Ennis's wellbeing today, after what had happened. He wrapped both arms securely around Ennis's waist and held him tight, giving him a slight squeeze.

"I'm fine, darlin'." Ennis took his left hand and kissed it. As he looked at Jack's hand, he had a vision. An image of Jack's hand adorned with a silver ring, cut into the shape of rope, glistening on Jack's skin. He looked down at his own left hand and could visualise the same kind of ring on his own finger. He finally knew what kind of rings he wanted for them.

He smiled to himself, played with Jack's fingers for a while, and then drifted off into sleep, holding Jack's arms around him. Jack pressed one last soft kiss on the back of his neck and joined him, nuzzling his face against Ennis's smooth skin.