Chapter 7

16th May 1964

Ennis pulled up outside the address Becky had given him and took a deep breath. He was incredibly nervous about talking to a stranger so plainly about what he wanted, but all he had to do was think of Jack's bright blue eyes and wide grin and his resolve stiffened. Jack deserved a real commitment from him, a confirmation of everything he felt and that he was in it for the long haul. As for him, he wanted to do this so much; commit himself to Jack. They had already agreed between themselves that they would marry as soon as the law changed, if it ever did, but this would be the next best thing. They would be married in their hearts.

It was a Saturday and while he was here, Becky and Jack had gone into town to have a wander around. Becky, trying to distract Jack and not let him know what Ennis was up to, had woven a story of wanting to look at baby things, which was half-true, early though it was. She said she didn't want to go alone and had dragged Jack off with her, with Ennis making some sort of excuse of business to attend to. He hoped they wouldn't encounter Fred Kane while they were there, but he knew now that Jack was capable of taking anything he threw at him. Becky wasn't exactly a pushover either.

Ennis got out of the truck and walked into the barn, following the sounds. A young woman was in the middle of the room, black hair in a braid and examining a sheet of metal.


The woman turned. "Hi. Can I help ya?"

Ennis took off his hat in respect. "I sure hope so, ma'am. I'm Ennis Del Mar. A friend of mine came to see ya earlier this week. Becky Twist?"

Recognition dawned on her face. "Oh! From the Brokeback Ranch, right?" He nodded. "Kate Hardeman," she introduced herself, offering her hand. "Pleased to meet ya, Ennis."

"You too, ma'am. So...I'm guessin' Becky told ya what I'm after, huh?" He bit at a hangnail nervously.

Kate smiled. "She sure did, an' I gotta say, I think it's a real nice gesture yer makin'. Yer partner...Jack, was it?" He nodded again. "I'm sure he'll love it. I think it's quite romantic to be honest. Nice to see people makin' a commitment, even if..." She trailed off.

Ennis lowered his eyes. "Even if they can't get married fer real, 'cos the law says so?"

Kate looked slightly embarrassed. "Sorry, Ennis. Didn't mean to get you down."

He shook his head. "S'alright. Me an' Jack...we agreed that if they ever say we can get married, then we will. Ain't gonna need no thinkin'. But...'til then..."

She nodded. "I know. This is the next best thing, right?"

"Sure is. I'm still committin' to him. He don't know 'bout this yet, it's our anniversary next month, an'..."

She smiled warmly. "So it's a surprise?"

"Yeah. An' August is another anniversary, so...we're gonna go back to where we met, an' make our promises there." Strangely, he felt comfortable sharing a few details with this woman, knowing that she wanted to help and wasn't judging him.

"That sounds wonderful. So," she started, her hands on her hips. "What did ya have in mind fer these rings?"

"Uh, well...I been thinkin'...yer a silversmith, right? Workin' with silver?"

"That's right. I work with other things now an' then, dependin' on what people want, but mainly silver. Made weddin' rings plenty of times."

"Not fer two guys though, I bet?" he asked, a smirk on the edge of his lips.

She smiled wryly. "No, you got me there. Still, I've made rings for guys before now, so all I gotta do is make two instead of one. Come over here an' take a look at my materials."

She led him to a large crate in the corner. It was full of large sheets of metal, mostly what Ennis assumed to be silver. He was glad that Kate knew what she was doing, because he sure didn't.

She pulled out a sheet and held it up so the natural light from the window fell across it. "How do you like this? It was heated in a different way than what you'd normally do, so while products developed from it are still strong, it's just as delicate and isn't too...what's the word? Hard, I guess. Not too hard an' tough. Perfect for rings, if you ask me."

Ennis examined it. It did look good in the light, and he was revisited by his vision of Jack wearing a ring he'd given him. He had a sense that this silver would look good against Jack's skin, and probably against his own too.

He looked up and smiled at Kate. "This looks real good. I think we'll like this one."

"Great." She put the sheet on a nearby workbench and wrote Del Mar/Twist in one corner in tiny pencil writing. She then motioned Ennis over to a desk and indicated him to sit down.

"Alright," she said, taking out a notepad. "I need to know a few things. First off, I need measurements." She pulled out a small ring-sizing stick, with a succession of sizes written along it. "Give me your hand." She took it and laid the stick along his ring finger on his left hand, and then across his finger at the base, before making a note of his measurements.

"Now then, I'll need to know Jack's ring size..."

"Um, well...neither of us has worn rings before, so...but I know his fingers ain't that much different from mine, a little smaller maybe."

"How small? An inch perhaps?"

He thought for a minute. "No, just maybe a few, uh...millimetres? That the word?"

"I think that's what you're lookin' for. So a few millimetres at the base..." She made the notes on her notepad.

"Now then, will someone be collectin' these rings or do I have an address to send them to?"

"Someone'll collect 'em, ma'am. Either me or Becky."

"Okay. These should be ready in about two weeks; I got some other orders to finish for next week. That okay?"

"Sure, I just need 'em by the seventh. An'...can cut like rope? You know what I mean?"

"I think I know what you mean. I'll get to it as soon as I can. Thanks a lot, Ennis," she smiled.

Ennis thanked her for her help and made his way back to the truck, feeling light-hearted. The blue of the sky made him think of a certain pair of blue eyes. He couldn't wait to see their reaction to his proposal.

Jack and Becky walked down the high street towards a major mother-and-baby store. Becky did want to take a look at what was available, but by bringing Jack with her, it would allow Ennis to go about the business of visiting Kate and placing his order without Jack cottoning on to what he was up to.

Becky's heart melted when she saw the tiny clothes they were selling. Jack could see the light in her green eyes and knew she was finally getting truly excited about this baby. He knew she had a strong maternal instinct and was pleased that she seemed to be settling in okay and willing to make this work.

They spent a long time looking at stuff, mainly Becky playing for time, as the three of them had agreed to meet up for lunch at their favourite diner. However, she had discovered a stuffed sheep toy that she simply had to buy, making Jack roll his eyes with amusement. Just when he'd thought he was rid of the damn things. Becky and Jack left the store as it neared noon and were heading towards the diner when a figure blocked their path.

Jack's temper reared up and his eyes narrowed dangerously. It was Fred Kane. He instinctively stood in front of Becky, protecting her.

"What the hell do you want?"

Kane glared at him. "Fuckin' queer walkin' down the street like you got a right. Where's yer ass-fuckin' boyfriend?"

Jack's hands clenched into fists and Becky immediately realised who their assailant was.

"Ain't none of yer business where either of us are. Get out the goddamn way."

Kane spat at his feet. "Who's the girl? You swingin' both ways or somethin'?"

It was Becky's turn to grow angry. She wouldn't stand for this abuse any more than Jack would.

"Get lost, will ya?" she snapped.

"She's got fire, I'll give her that. You two have some sort of three-way with her or somethin'?"

"Why you -" Jack drew his fist back but Becky caught his wrist.

"Don't," she whispered. "He ain't worth goin' to jail fer."

Kane sneered. "Lookit that, a girl holdin' ya back. A queer an' a sissy too. Need a girl to fight yer battles?"

"I seem to recall me chewin' you out last time I saw ya. I woulda thought you'd remember that."

Kane's eyes narrowed. "You ain't so tough without yer queer boyfriend, are ya?"

Becky glanced down the street, and saw Ennis's truck swing around the corner. Relief flooded through her; she knew Ennis would be able to sort this guy out. Ennis parked a few feet from them and got out, looking murderous when he'd realised who was blocking their path.

He stepped right between Jack and Kane, hands braced for a fight. Jack's features had softened when he'd seen Ennis, but now he too was glaring at Kane.

"You wanna shut yer slop-bucket mouth, you hear me?" said Ennis in a low, dangerous voice. He sure as hell wouldn't stand for anyone threatening the people he considered his family.

"Here's the other one," spat Kane, not backing down. "Here's the other queer, come to save his ass-takin' boyfriend an' their three-way girlfriend."

Ennis's nostrils were flaring at the insults and he tried very hard not to raise his fists. He didn't want to get arrested, even if this bastard did deserve to have his lights punched out.

"Get out the fuckin' way," Ennis growled, staring daggers at Kane.

Kane, to his credit, tried to keep Ennis's gaze, but the look in Ennis's brown eyes, narrowed with hatred, seemed to make him whither and he soon gave up. He crumbled under Ennis's glare and once again slunk away.

The three of them simultaneously let out a sigh as he shuffled down the street.

"I guess that was Fred Kane," said Becky, not needing to make it a question.

"Yup. Asshole."

Jack put his hand on Ennis's back. "Ennis?" he murmured, looking up at the back of his head. Ennis turned to face them.

"You alright there, Becky?" he asked, the hard look in his eyes softening as he looked at them.

"Fine. Just a little shaken. Sure is a foul-mouthed bastard."

Ennis had to smirk at her word choice. His eyes softened yet further as he looked into the blue eyes he loved so much. "You alright, darlin'?"

Jack smiled. "I am now. You sure are a sight fer sore eyes, cowboy. I was gettin' ready to land him one when you showed up. Was foul to me an' even worse to Becky. Mentioned you too."

Ennis shook his head. "Don't pay him no mind, rodeo. He ain't worth our time."

They continued to walk down the street; luckily the diner wasn't too far from here. They collapsed with exhaustion into a booth and ordered a hearty meal, their appetites fuelled by the shock of the recent events.

"So, what were you up to this mornin'?" Jack asked, looking at Ennis.

Ennis just smiled serenely. "You'll have to wait an' see. But I think you'll like it."

"Oh yeah?" said Jack, one eyebrow raised. If Ennis had a surprise for him, he was willing to wait. He trusted Ennis's judgement for doing things without his immediate knowledge.

They eventually went back to the ranch. Becky went upstairs to get some sleep, and after a quick check of the animals, Ennis and Jack decided to retire to their own bed for a bit of afternoon delight.

They were tangled up from head to toe under the warm sheets, Ennis rocking into Jack with their fingers interlaced on the bed, sweaty skin writhing together in a perfect rhythm. Jack was meeting his thrusts eagerly and making the soft moaning noises that Ennis loved. It didn't matter what people like Fred Kane thought of them at the end of the day. He thought about what he'd done today, and what he was planning for Jack next month, and for August. Their love was what mattered.

Two weeks later, Becky had been in the office when Kate had called her to tell her the rings were ready. After a quick check around to make sure Jack wasn't within earshot, she'd gone up to Ennis to tell him, and offered to go and get them. He had agreed, a shy smile on his face at the realisation that things were starting to take shape, and she had driven off.

She pulled up outside Kate's barn and found her hammering away at a sheet of steel.

"Hi," she called.

Kate looked up and smiled. "Hey. That was quick."

Becky grinned. "I told Ennis they were ready an' I could tell he wanted to see 'em as soon as possible."

"I bet." Kate led Becky over to her desk, where, sure enough, on a wad of black cloth lay a pair of beautiful silver rings cut into a shape that Becky knew to be rope. The silver was striking against the black and Becky drew in a breath.

"They're beautiful," she whispered, picking one up and examining it.

"Thank you. The one yer holdin' is Jack's. Slightly smaller than Ennis's. Here, I picked these up from a jeweller friend of mine." She brought over a pair of black ring boxes lined with black velvet. On the lid of one, held in place with tape, was the letter E on a piece of paper, with the letter J on the lid of the other, so they could be told apart. The two of them put the rings into their appropriate boxes and Becky paid her for her work. There was a slight reduction for the fact they were friends of her brother's.

"You know, if you ever wanna come out to the ranch sometime, yer more than welcome," said Becky. "Course, it'd hafta be after the seventh. Don't want Jack catchin' on before then, after all," she smirked.

Kate smiled. "I'd like that. Ennis is a nice guy, an' I'll probably like Jack."

"I reckon so. They're both good people. I'm glad some people can see that. Thanks a lot, Kate. See ya."

"Bye, Becky."

Becky put the boxes into the glove compartment of the truck and drove home, eager to show Ennis the amazing rings Kate had created.

She parked up and put the boxes into her jeans pockets. She made her way around the back of the house and caught Ennis's eye from across the field. She went into the house to wait for him, while he made up an excuse about a bathroom break, making sure to give Jack, who was helping him fix fences, a quick kiss on the lips, making him grin and blush.

Ennis went into the kitchen and found Becky hovering at the doorway between the kitchen and living room.

"Well?" he asked, a bundle of nerves.

Becky smiled and extracted the boxes from her pockets. "I got them."

Ennis walked up to her and she handed over the box containing his ring. He opened it and was speechless for a moment. He ran a finger gently across it. It was just as delicate as Kate had described it would be, yet he could tell it was still strong; definitely a man's ring. He had a vision of Jack seeing his ring; blue eyes wide in shock at first, then hopefully a wide, dimpled grin spreading across his face, maybe even a big kiss to thank him. And then who knows where that might go? He tried to keep his face neutral.

"This is...really somethin', ain't it?"

"Sure is. I'm guessin' you like it?" She could see it in his shy brown eyes how blown away he was by this ring. She knew their anniversary would be something special.

"This is real beautiful..." He held out his hand and she opened Jack's box, handing it out to him. The image of these two rings, side by side, nearly undid him. He swallowed and snapped them both shut, breathing deeply.

"Well, guess I'll take these upstairs. Thanks a lot, Becky." He managed a smile at her.

"Sure 'nough."

After hiding the rings somewhere Jack wouldn't find them, he went back outside; Becky had returned to the office. He saw Jack walking across the field towards the stables and felt a powerful rush of love for the man. He'd never felt so strongly about anyone and he was convinced he didn't have the words to describe what he felt for Jack. But he had sure tried, and Jack had clearly got the message, so he must have done something right. Hopefully, the seventh of next month would be the thing that put a capper on everything; the final piece of proof of how much he loved Jack and that he was totally committed to him.

He went into the stables to find Jack brushing Signal. "Hey," he called softly.

Jack turned and his smile lit up the room. "Hey." He came up to Ennis and they wrapped their arms around each other. Ennis felt so safe and warm in Jack's embrace and his throat closed up. He buried his face in Jack's neck, inhaling his familiar scent.

"Ennis?" Jack murmured, surprised by this intensity.

"Love ya Jack. So much," came the whispered response. Jack started to get the picture and smiled to himself. He knew that Ennis wasn't as confident with expressing his feelings as he would like to be. Jack figured Ennis's feelings for him must be pretty strong if he was having trouble putting them into words.

"Love ya too, cowboy." He pulled Ennis back to look into his eyes and leaned in. Their mouths met tenderly, tasting each others' lips, sweet and soft. Jack then kissed Ennis's cheeks and forehead, then his eyelids, pressing soft kisses all over his face. He could feel Ennis shaking slightly. "S'alright, s'alright..." Jack whispered. Ennis pulled him close again and they stood that way for a long time, Jack running his hands up and down Ennis's back and whispering soothing words to him.

"So, it's all set?" asked Becky, looking up from her notes.

"Yep," replied Ennis, nodding. They were going over Ennis's plans for the seventh, which was now just six days away. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't nervous. He wanted the evening to go perfectly and Becky had been helping him. He'd had a few ideas of other ways he could make the night special, and Becky would be going into town the next day to pick up the items he wanted. She knew, based on what he was thinking of, that the night in question was going to be very romantic.

"Bet you can't wait, huh?" she asked, smiling at him.

Ennis shifted his feet around. "Yeah. Kinda. Really wanna get to it an' ask him already, but...sure is nerve-wrackin'."

"I know. But all you gotta think about is how much you love Jack, how much he loves you. Think about what yer plannin'. It's a wonderful thing, Ennis."

He swallowed and nodded. "Yeah...can't wait to see his face, I gotta say. Bet he won't wanna wait to call his mama an' tell her."

Becky's eyes lowered. "Yeah, I bet."

Ennis didn't pick up on her discomfort. "Anyway, I better get goin', before Jack comes lookin' for me." He put his hat on and tipped it at her before leaving the office, leaving Becky to her thoughts.

Make the call, her mind whispered to her.

Don't see why I have to. Ain't his business. He don't exactly care 'bout family, does he?

It ain't about that. This is for Rose. She'd want to know. She'd want to know her own-

Stop it!

She put her head in her hands and took a few deep breaths. With a grimace, she picked up the phone and dialled the all-too-familiar number.

"Hello?" asked a woman's voice.

"Hi, it's me."

"Becky!" Rose sounded happy to hear her voice. "How are you, honey?"

"I'm good thanks, you?"

"Gettin' by, you know. Jack tells me yer expectin'..."

Becky swallowed. "Yep. Just gone seven weeks. Due in early January."

"Congratulations. When will you know if it's a boy or girl?"

"My doctor says about the 18-week scan. That's in August. I, uh...I'll let ya know when I find out, okay?"

"Sure. Can't wait to find out. How're you holdin' up?"

"I'm fine. John's okay."

Becky's nostrils flared. "Why should I care how he is?"

Rose sighed. "I know how you feel about him, but...he's still family."

"He ain't. He knows I don't consider him family. You oughta know that too."

"I know..."

They were silent for a few moments. "Hey," said Rose suddenly. "Since yer in Georgia...maybe you could try trackin' Rich down. I'm sure he moved there."

Becky bit her lip. "Ain't sure I want to. I'm sure he's a nice guy an' all, but...I dunno if I'm ready to talk about it all. An' if Ennis an' Jack find out I've tracked him down, they'll wanna know why, an' how I know him, an' it'll all come out. I don't want that, not yet."

"Jack has a right to know. They both have."

"An' Earl had a right to live," Becky said, sighing.

Both of them knew this was a lost cause; neither of them wanted the horrible truth to come to the surface but it ate away at them all the time. This stress was the last thing Becky needed right now.


"Yeah. Been good to talk to you, Rose."

"You too. Good to hear your voice."

"You still comin' down fer Thanksgivin'?"

"Yeah. Just me though, don't worry. I don't think Ennis would take to kindly to John being there near Jack."

"Can't say I'd blame him. So I'll speak to you soon, Rose."

"Yeah. Bye, Becky."

"Bye..." Becky hung up and laid her head on her folded arms on the desk. She needed fresh air and decided to go for a walk. She stepped outside in time to Ennis and Jack on horseback, clearly heading for their hill. She didn't want to intrude on their privacy, so decided to go and find Lucky. That blue heeler was growing on her.

When they reached the hill, Ennis and Jack dismounted and left the horses to graze. Jack spread out a blanket and they lay down for a break. Jack had his head on Ennis's chest as they both gazed up into the endless blue sky. Ennis's mind was six days ahead, planning their anniversary and his proposal. Jack was just daydreaming and relishing the feeling of Ennis, who had his hand under Jack's shirt and was rubbing the warm skin underneath.

Jack sighed with happiness and leaned up on his elbow, looking down at Ennis, who met his eyes with a shy smile. Jack smiled back and lowered his head to kiss Ennis, who then slipped a hand to the back of his head, pulling him closer.

Jack sighed into Ennis's mouth as the warm wetness mixed with his own. He was fully pressing into Ennis's body now, as Ennis slipped his hands to Jack's waist, holding him tightly.

Jack pulled back after several heavenly moments of kissing. "Yer such a good kisser," he murmured. It was true; Ennis did have a way when it came to kissing. He always seemed to know how to kiss Jack to get him aroused and how to kiss him to make him sigh and feel relaxed.

Ennis smiled shyly. "I had a good teacher," he whispered. "Ain't never gonna forget that second night..."

"Me neither..." Jack leaned back down and let their tongues slide together. His hands were now tangling in Ennis's curls and Ennis was running his hands over his ass, but not urgently.

They stayed like that for about an hour before finally making their way back. Jack thought Becky looked a little subdued but figured it must be something to do with her pregnancy. Maybe she was just tired. Ennis stayed close to him as he cooked dinner, for some reason wanting to be close to him. Jack was glad for the attention and thought about their forthcoming anniversary. He knew it would be a special night. He just didn't yet know how special.

Late on Friday night, when there was nothing on TV and really, nothing else to do, Ennis and Jack were lying on the sofa, Jack on top, and they were slowly kissing, hands tangling in each others' hair, before lowering to allow their fingers to lace together. Becky had gone up to bed early and Lucky had followed her, so they were taking advantage of the empty room. She was going to bed earlier now, and Ennis and Jack suspected that it had something to do with her hormones. Still, it gave them some time alone before going up to bed, and Jack had missed making out on the sofa with his partner.

Jack's tongue was busy playing with Ennis's, warm and sweet as they savoured the taste of each other. Jack could never grow tired of kissing Ennis; no matter how many times he'd done it, it always seemed new and fresh every time.

He broke away and gazed down lovingly at Ennis, into his warm brown eyes and happy smile. He grinned sideways and buried his face in Ennis's neck, inhaling him. The radio was on in the corner but they weren't paying much attention, they were far too wrapped up in each other. Ennis kept whispering, "darlin'," and Jack let the word wash over him; it still made him damn near swoon every time Ennis said it, because he knew how hard it must have been for Ennis at the start, to call another man by that term. But he didn't seem to have any trouble now.

After a few more minutes, the first few bars of Elvis's Love Me Tender came on the radio and Jack sat up, smiling softly at Ennis. He got up and turned the radio up slightly. Ennis watched him with a puzzled expression. His eyes widened when Jack walked back over to him and held out his hands.

"I dunno, know I ain't much of a dancer..."

"C'mon, cowboy, we ain't never danced together before. It'll be fun."

Ennis just couldn't resist those blue eyes, never could. He smiled shyly and got up, allowing Jack to pull him to the centre of the room. It was a very romantic song after all, and he felt himself get caught up in the moment. It was just the two of them and that was how he liked it best.

Love me tender

Love me sweet

Never let me go

Jack pulled Ennis close to him and they wrapped their arms around each other, Jack sighing in contentment. Ennis couldn't help but listen to the words as they started to sway together in time to the calming music, feet shuffling slightly. It was as if the words had been specially crafted with him and Jack in mind.

You have made my life complete

And I love you so

It was true; they both felt that the other had made everything come together for them, as if they had both been the missing part of each others' lives. Ennis soon became aware that Jack was whispering softly, singing along to the words in his ear. He smiled, knowing that in just a few short days, Jack would see for himself just how much he loved him. He thought of the rings, hidden upstairs in his nightstand.

Love me tender

Love me true

All my dreams fulfilled

For my darlin' I love you

And I always will

They didn't need to speak; they had made an unspoken vow that they would always love each other. Ennis particularly liked the fact that the song had the word "darlin'". That word, his word for Jack that conveyed so much.

Love me tender

Love me long

Take me to your heart

For it's there that I belong

And we'll never part

Both of them knew in their hearts that they would be together forever. That went without saying. They knew that they did indeed belong in each others' hearts, had found a home with each other.

Love me tender

Love me true

All my dreams fulfilled

For my darlin' I love you

And I always will

Jack's head was on Ennis's shoulder, and their hearts were both bursting with love for one another. Jack sniffed and pulled Ennis ever nearer. Ennis thought of the year that had already passed, and wondered what the years ahead might be like and what they would hold. He didn't want to wait to find out, but he could wait if he had Jack.

Love me tender

Love me dear

Tell me you are mine

I'll be yours through all the years

Till the end of time

They were kissing softly again now, lips catching at faces. A fire was starting in their groins from this intense intimacy, and their desire for each other could never be quenched. Jack gazed into Ennis's dark eyes and with no words, took his hand and led him upstairs to show him everything he felt for him.

They reached their bedroom, Jack still holding Ennis's hand, and stood in front of each other. Jack undid Ennis's shirt buttons and gazed at the chest he loved so much, the fine blonde hairs. Ennis copied his movement and undid Jack's buttons, running his hands over the warm skin. They pushed shirts off shoulders and fondled each other for a moment. Ennis then pulled Jack close for a deep kiss, holding Jack's face with both hands, the way he knew Jack liked.

Love me tender

Love me true

All my dreams fulfilled

They fell onto the bed and undid their jeans before crawling up to the head. Ennis rolled on top of Jack and got them both under the bed covers, into a cosy heat, a small private space. He kissed Jack's mouth a few times before reaching for the lube, another jolt of anticipation running through him as he thought of the rings. How was it that this man, this blue-eyed rodeo cowboy, his Jack, had somehow penetrated through his outer shell and released his true self? He wasn't sure exactly how Jack had achieved it, but he was truly grateful that he had.

For my darlin' I love you

And I always will.