Author's notes

Hey guys! This is the sequel to Hearts Intertwined. It's now 1987, and the boys are helping Lily prepare for her wedding. This is likely to be the last instalment of this series, but I have plenty of ideas for other stories in mind!

Enjoy!

Kathryn

xxx


Chapter 1

June 3rd, 1987

Jack stood at the stove flipping pancakes and wondering where the others where. He had a feeling that Ennis would be the first up, and he was looking forward to having five minutes alone with his man. As much as he loved his mother and his niece, he liked it when it was just the two of them.

As he worked, he thought back over the last six months. Lily and Ben had now graduated and were engaged; the wedding was due to take place here at the ranch next spring, and both he and Ennis had been humbled by Lily's request to have the ceremony performed here. He knew that she loved the ranch, and he suspected that she wanted to be married in a place close to her mother. He could understand that; she had very few memories of Becky and jumped at every opportunity to be close to her.

Just as he was thinking about the forthcoming wedding, he heard a soft padding behind him, and grinned when he felt a pair of very familiar arms encircle his waist, fingers locking at his stomach. "Mornin', cowboy."

"Mmm, mornin' darlin," Ennis replied in a low, sleep-clogged voice. "Sure smells good in here...you makin' pancakes?"

"Yeah, I know how much you an' the girls like 'em. You sleep okay?"

"Just fine." Ennis's nightmares had long since stopped; he hadn't slept badly in years. They both knew that time had healed his wounds. That, and Jack's unwavering devotion. He had stood by Ennis throughout the trauma plaguing him in the aftermath of Vietnam, and as a result, Ennis had been able to move past it and look to the future again. Since then, Ennis had been profoundly grateful to Jack for helping him. "Always sleep good these days..."

"I know you do, Ennis," said Jack softly. He transferred the last of the pancakes to the plate and switched the stove off. Turning in Ennis's arms, he looked up into the deep brown eyes. "You've still got some sleep in yer eyes..." He lifted his hands and gently used his thumbs to clear Ennis's eyes. "There you go." Ennis leaned down and kissed him warmly, pulling him close. Jack's arms slid through his and up his back, holding onto his shoulders. They kissed lazily, just enjoying the early morning quiet.

They were so lost in each other that neither of them noticed Lily walk in. "Oh! Sorry, guys..." she said in embarrassment. They broke apart and Jack smiled, remembering all the times that Becky had walked in on them.

"S'alright, honey. Breakfast's ready..." The three of them moved to the table and sat down, taking pancakes and drizzling lemon juice onto them. Rose walked in, accompanied by Smokey and Lucky.

"Mornin'," she said, smiling around at them all. Her son, his partner and her granddaughter. There would always be a gaping hole where Becky should be, but there was nothing they could do about that now.

"Mornin, ma," greeted Jack, letting her kiss his cheek as she sat down. He poured himself some orange juice and glanced at Ennis, still thinking about all that time ago, when Ennis had returned from Vietnam injured and traumatised. It hadn't been easy for them to move past it and concentrate on their future, but as he looked around at his surviving family, Jack knew that it had been well worth it. They were happier now than they had ever been, and he wished that Becky could be here to share it with them.

"So what's the plan for today?" he asked, stirring himself from his thoughts. "I know we've got chores to do an' all, but...anythin' else?"

"Ben's comin' over later," Lily reminded him with a slight smile. "He wants to stay for a few days while we make plans, remember?"

"Right," replied Jack, nodding. "Um...we ain't got a problem with him stayin' in your room. Ain't no point keepin' you apart, I guess." He knew all too well that she and Ben had slept together while away at college, and he was in no position to judge about sex before marriage. "Just keep it down," he said with a wink, and she blushed.

"Cut it out, Uncle Jack." He smirked and carried on eating.

"What are you doin' today, mama?" he asked her, and she looked over at him.

"I was thinkin' of goin' down to the community centre, meet some of the others." She had been going there frequently over the last twenty years, and had met some other ladies her age living in the area. Jack was pleased that she had some friends here, and the opportunity to get out of the house instead of always being cooped up inside. "Unless you need me here?"

"Nah, you go on. We'll be fine." He then looked over at Ennis. "Bud, you're awful quiet over there. You okay?"

Ennis looked up at him. "Yeah, I'm okay. Just...thinkin'. In a couple of months, it'll be thirty years since..."

Jack's eyes widened; it would be thirty years since Ennis's parents had died in September. "Oh...I'm sorry, cowboy. You wanna do somethin'? Maybe go visit their graves, bring 'em flowers?" Ennis looked into his eyes, touched by Jack's offer and humbled that Jack cared about him enough to suggest something.

"Maybe...that sounds good. Thanks, bud." He smiled and went back to his breakfast, leaving Jack satisfied that he'd cheered up.

After breakfast, Ennis was clearing the plates away when Jack put a hand on his shoulder. "Ennis...I'm sorry I didn't remember. Been real busy thinkin' about the weddin', an'..." He sighed. "Anyway, I'm sorry."

Ennis turned to look at him, cupping his cheek. "S'alright, Jack. I know we've been busy, an' it's okay. Should be concentratin' on the weddin', not mopin' around. But...I like the idea of us goin' up there. I'll call Cecilia an' K.E., see if they wanna join us." Jack nodded and they kissed before going outside, ready for another day's work.


That afternoon, Ben arrived at the ranch. He'd been by quite a few times since he and Lily had started dating, so Ennis and Jack had already given him their seal of approval to the marriage. They knew that he would look after her and make her happy. He was also a great asset to the ranch, having worked on his father's place while growing up. He'd tried his best to get into their good books when he'd started seeing Lily, and it had worked. They were very impressed by him.

Rose noticed that Lily was hovering by the window, occasionally looking out and shuffling her feet. She was irresistibly reminded of whenever Ennis was out of the house, and Jack was waiting for him to come back. He was always antsy and eager for them to be in the same space again, and she could now see this in Lily. "Sweetie, you wanna sit down? He'll be here soon enough."

Lily looked at her sheepishly. "Sorry, Grandma." She sat in her mother's old chair and bit her lip. "Just...it's been ages since I last saw him." Rose was about to point out that it had only been a week, but decided not to. That was another thing that Jack did.

"I know, honey. But he'll be here before you know it." Just then, there was a knock at the front door and Lily jumped up. She opened the door to see her fiancé there, a nervous smile on his face.

"Hey, Lily," he said, his dark brown hair blowing slightly in the wind. She grinned and they embraced warmly, her kissing his cheek. When they pulled apart, Ben kissed her hand. "Feels like it's been years, don't it?"

She nodded, her free hand on his shoulder. "Sure does. I know it's only been a week, but...feels like a lot longer. Come on in." She led him inside and Rose stood up.

"Ben, good to see you again," she said with a smile, and he kissed her hand too. Lily beamed at how much of a gentleman he was.

"Pleasure, Mrs Twist," he replied, smiling. They heard boots on the back steps and the sound of Ennis and Jack talking. "Are yer uncles here, Lily?"

She nodded. "Yep, been workin' outside. They probably came in for somethin' to eat. You wanna come say hi?" They walked into the kitchen hand in hand to find Ennis and Jack leaning against the counter side by side. Lily was just relieved that they hadn't been necking again. Even though Ben had no problem with who they were, it was still embarrassing for your fiancé to catch your guardians in a compromising position. Their faces brightened when they saw Ben.

"Hey," greeted Jack, standing up straight and coming over, extending his hand. "Good to see you again. How was the trip?"

"It was fine," Ben replied as he shook Ennis's hand. "Pretty quiet on the road. I remember that fire last time I was on my way down here, though."

"I know," said Jack as they sat down and Lily got them all some coffee. "We saw it in the paper afterwards. How'd it happen again?"

"Tank truck," said Ennis. "Driver fell asleep at the wheel an' it went right on its side. Whole thing was like a bonfire by the time the fire service got there."

Jack shook his head. "That's it...real bad shit."

"Jack, language," his mother scolded him, and he went a little red.

"Sorry, mama." He glared at Ennis, who was smirking at him, and gave him a kick in the shin. Ennis glared at him and leaned in to speak in his ear.

"Gonna teach you a lesson for that, rodeo," he said in a low voice, and Jack grinned, liking the prospect.

"I'll look forward to it," he murmured back, and Ennis rolled his eyes. They knew by now exactly how to play each other and were often bantering like this. It reminded Ennis that while Jack was his lover and partner, he was also his best friend.

Sure am lucky, he thought to himself. That I fell in love with my best friend. He's...my other half. Wouldn't be nowhere or nothin' without him. At this thought, he reached under the table and took Jack's hand, squeezing it slightly. Jack looked over at him and smiled his most loving smile at him; the one that made Ennis's heart swell, amongst other things.

"So, um..." Jack said, tearing his eyes away from Ennis's, but not his hand. "Ben, how long are you stayin', again?"

"I was hopin' 'til about the 8th, if that's alright. My parents are visitin' my grandparents in Montana for a few days, so I decided I might as well come down here an' see you guys." He looked over at Lily, fixing her with the adoring gaze that was often exchanged between Ennis and Jack. "Been missin' my girl somethin' awful." She blushed and looked down at her coffee.

"Well, we're happy to have you stay however long you want. Where's your stuff?" Jack asked, looking around.

"In my truck. I was gonna get it after talkin' to you guys. Where am I stayin'?"

Jack shrugged. "With Lily, like ya normally do. Ain't no problem. So long as you do some chores for us, you can stay where you want."

Ben nodded in relief, and sighed. "Well, um...I'm gonna go get my stuff. Thanks, guys." Jack waved a hand and he was gone, heading for the front door. Jack then got up and started rummaging in the fridge.

"Anybody want a sandwich?" he called, and he was met by affirmative replies from the others. He had to smile to himself at this. For the first nineteen years of his life, all he'd wanted was a family of his own, and now he had it. He had met Ennis, they had fallen in love and settled down, and that was it. They'd been together for over half of their lives so far, and he'd never expected to be this happy for this long. Ennis, and the family they had forged together, meant everything to him.


The next day, Ennis and Jack were out working on the land in the afternoon, leaving Rose in the house and Lily in the office. She'd shown a knack for numbers and accounting, yet her heart belonged to art, and she preferred to spend her mornings in her room with her easel while Jack was in the office. Still, she was happy to help out on the ranch wherever she could. Having grown up here, she had seen many years of cattle and horses go by, and she was very adept at horse riding, which Jack surmised that she had inherited from her mother.

At the moment, he and Ennis were fixing fences, while Ben was working with the hands in the fields. They knew that he was trying to impress them, as he was about to marry their niece, but they appreciated the extra help anyway. They didn't know what the two of them had planned for after the wedding, but they knew that the right choice would be made. Lily was set to inherit the ranch, but by the time Ennis and Jack were ready to retire, she would probably have children or maybe grandchildren of her own, so they had made arrangements with Greg to adjust the details when the time came.

Jack held down a post as Ennis hammered it in, irresistibly reminded of when Ennis was pounding him into the mattress. He gulped and wondered if Ennis could see his arousal in his jeans. Maybe he would, and maybe he would drag him into the tack room. Jack smiled to himself at the thought.

Sure enough, Ennis's eye caught Jack's problem. "Uh, rodeo...looks like there's more wood around here than this post..." He looked up and met Jack's lust-filled eyes, then smirked. "You got a bit of a problem down there, bud..."

Jack nodded, his breathing becoming heavy. "Uh-huh..." He took Ennis's hand and brought it to his jeans. "Think you can take care of that?" Ennis didn't reply, but he grabbed Jack's hand and they ran for the stables, hoping not to run into anybody. They ran into the tack room and shut the door behind them, and before Jack could say anything he was pushed against the wall and being kissed hard, just the way he liked in these moments. Ennis pushed his tongue into Jack's mouth and ground their hips together, making Jack moan a little.

They kissed and tugged at each other's jackets for a moment, and then Ennis sank to his knees, quickly undoing Jack's jeans and pushing them down. It amazed both of them that despite having been together for over twenty years, they had never grown bored where sex was concerned. Every time they did something sexual still felt like a first time, and they had done plenty to keep things interesting.

Ennis continued to suck at Jack, hands on his ass to pull him closer while Jack had his eyes closed, lost in Ennis's loving administrations. He came with a yell, hand in his mouth so as not to attract attention, and then sighed.

"That was real good, Ennis...come on up here." He pulled Ennis up and into his arms, kissing him softly. "Ready to go back to work?" Ennis nodded and they left the room, having thoroughly enjoyed their break.

"What brought that on, anyway?" Ennis asked as they approached the half-fixed fence. "I ain't complainin', but..."

Jack shrugged. "Well...seein' you hammerin' the post in like that...made me think of when you're...hammerin' me," he said with a smile. "Couldn't help but think about it. Always thinkin' of you goin' at me."

Ennis shook his head in amusement. "You've got sex on the brain, rodeo. What am I gonna do with you?" Jack kissed his cheek and grinned at him, blue eyes full of mischief.

"Exactly what you just did. An' maybe later...you could do a little more." He smiled widely at Ennis and nudged him suggestively. Ennis smiled back at the notion.

"I might just do that, darlin'. Anyway...where were we?" They returned to their work and started talking about the forthcoming wedding. The plan so far was to have it in the area directly behind the house, maybe under a marquee if the weather required it. They had yet to build a guest list, but they had a general idea of who would be attending. Ben had agreed that if any of his relatives would have a problem with Ennis and Jack, then they would not be allowed to attend. His parents hadn't met them, but they had spoken on the phone and were very pleasant. Ben had explained that since his brother had come out, they were a lot more accepting than they used to be. He had elected his brother as his best man, but Lily hadn't yet decided on a maid of honour; she was thinking of a friend of hers from college that she had always been close to.

"Do you reckon Joe an' Maria might wanna come?" Jack asked as they worked. "I mean, they brought Becky up, an' they like Lily well enough, right?"

Ennis shrugged. "I guess. But you know what Joe thinks of us. He was civil enough durin'...Becky's funeral, but...this is different. This is Lily's day, an'...I don't wanna risk spoilin' it." Jack nodded in agreement.

"Me neither, but it's only polite to ask. Anyway, it's up to Lily. Her side of the family."

"Yours too, bud," Ennis reminded him. Jack's eyes lowered as he thought of his father.

"I know...but it's up to her. It's her day, after all. We've just gotta go with whatever she decides."

Ennis nodded and put his arm around Jack. "She'll do the right thing, Jack. We taught her well, right?" Jack smiled at him and pressed his lips to Ennis's cheek again.

"Yeah, we did. I reckon we did an alright job, cowboy. An' I reckon her mama's lookin' down on her an' smilin'."

"She probably is, darlin'," Ennis replied, hugging him close.


That evening, the four of them settled down to one of Rose's pot roasts, the kind that made Jack's mouth water, ever since he was young. He'd tried to make one himself once or twice over the years, but even with her supervision it never quite turned out like hers. But she was happy to make whatever they wanted. This time, it was a first for Ben.

Jack sat down with the bottle of wine and poured it into his glass, then passed it around as everybody settled. "We about ready here?" he asked, and they nodded. All four of them lifted their glasses. "So...let's make a toast. To family, an' to friends."

"To weddin's," added Lily with a smile at Ben. He nodded at her and gave her a look of pure adoration.

"Yep, an' to the future. One shared with someone you love." Rose smiled at this.

"To stickin' together no matter what, regardless of whatever happens," she said, smiling at her son and Ennis. They smiled back and then looked at each other.

"An' to lookin' after the people who matter to you," Ennis added quietly, looking into Jack's eyes. Jack grinned at him and then looked back at the others.

"Hear hear," he said, holding out his glass, and they clinked their glasses together. With a sip of the wine, they turned to their food.

"This looks great, Mrs Twist," said Ben, smiling up at her. She waved a hand.

"I've told you before, honey. Call me Rose. Ennis does." Ben nodded and they all started eating. They were quiet for a few moments, and then Jack spoke up.

"Hey, have you two been thinkin' about the guest list yet? Apart from your parents, who else is comin'?" he asked Ben, who shrugged.

"Um...I dunno. I know my brother's gonna be my best man, an' my little sisters are comin' with my parents. But apart from that, I ain't sure. I'd have to make sure that people are okay with you guys first, before we start handin' out invitations."

Jack nodded. "I know. But still...there's a lot to do. You're gonna need to make a guest list soon, so we know how many we gotta cater for. Don't wanna run out of food or nothin'."

"Right," Lily agreed. "We'll have to get a move on soon, then. An' we've gotta book fittin's soon. Dresses an' tuxes, you know."

"Yep." Jack saw Ennis shift uncomfortably and remembered that he didn't like wearing tuxedos. He'd only ever worn one a couple of times; such as funerals and Lily's christening, and he'd never enjoyed it. Still, he was willing to put one on for special occasions. Jack had to admit that he loved the sight of Ennis in a suit, but neither of them had worn one in years, not since their neighbour Bill had died from heart problems in the early seventies. He especially loved getting Ennis out of the suit afterwards.

"Don't worry, cowboy," he said to Ennis now. "I don't like tuxes much either. But it's just one day." Ennis smiled appreciatively and they returned to their meal.

Halfway through dinner, the phone rang and Jack jumped up to get it. "Brokeback Ranch, Jack speakin'."

"Hi Jack, it's Jennifer Slater, Ben's mother. Been a while, I know..."

"Oh, hey Jennifer. Good to hear from you. What's up?"

"I was hopin' to talk to Ben, if he's there?"

"Sure, he's right here. Hang on." He held the receiver out. "Ben, it's yer mama." Ben got up and went to the phone to talk to her.

"Wonder what's up?" Ennis mused, looking over at him. Lily shrugged.

"Maybe it's somethin' to do with the weddin'. She might have some ideas. I'm happy for her to make suggestions; it ain't like she's pushy." Just then, they heard what Ben was saying.

"Um, sure. I'll ask them, ma." He put a hand over the receiver and turned to Ennis and Jack. "Um, guys...my ma wants to know if she an' my dad can come down here for a visit, for about a week. She says that they wanna meet you 'cos of the weddin'. Whaddaya think?"

Ennis and Jack looked at each other, not knowing what to say. Ben had assured them that his parents were accepting because of his brother, but it was still intimidating. Still, they wanted to get to know Ben's parents before the wedding. Jack shrugged and they turned back to him. "Sure, they're welcome to come. We ain't got no room for 'em here, though. There's a real nice hotel in town they could stay in."

Ben nodded and shared the information with his mother. "That sound okay, ma?"

"That sounds great, honey. We'll see you then. Could you put Jack back on, please?" He did so and Jack cleared his throat.

"Looks like we're all set, Jennifer. You want the address an' number of that hotel? I ain't got it right now, but I can call you tomorrow. When do you wanna come?"

"Well, Craig's got some time off in a little bit, on the 15th. I know it's short notice, but..."

"No, that's fine. We're happy to have you come by. I'll call you tomorrow with the information for the hotel, alright?"

"That sounds fine, Jack. I'll be in the house all day tomorrow. Bye, then."

"Yep, bye." He hung up and turned to everybody at the table. "Well, Lily...yer future in-laws are comin' in just over a week." He smiled at her. "Don't worry; I'm sure it'll be fine."

Lily nodded and grabbed her wine glass, needing to relax. She'd met them only once, after announcing the engagement. They had been perfectly nice to her and she was very thankful that they weren't repulsed by her guardians. If they had been, it would have put an immense strain on her relationship with Ben. This way, everything was a lot simpler. At least there wouldn't be any fights at the wedding; that was the last thing they needed.


The evening was spent with the five of them watching TV in the living room and finishing off the wine. Ennis and Jack had curled up on the sofa together, while Lily and Ben had squashed themselves into her armchair. Rose had watched the two couples affectionately, a part of her wishing that John was still here, albeit the way he was when they'd met. But it had been so long ago and she had a new family to watch over.

When the night wore on, they all started to go up to bed. Ennis and Jack were last to go up, and they walked along the hall hand in hand, silently making their way to their room. They had made this journey hundreds of times, but the knowledge that they were going to make love at the end of it kept them interested.

Ennis shut the door behind them and turned to Jack, coaxing him into his arms. Jack came up to him willingly, his eyes alight with interest. "Alone at last," he said softly, looking up into Ennis's eyes.

"Yeah...my favourite time of day," Ennis replied, brushing Jack's hair from his forehead and cupping his cheeks, the way he knew that Jack liked. He leaned in and gently brought their lips together, pressing his own to Jack's firmly. His hands slid from Jack's face and down to his waist, pulling his hips closer. Jack's arms came up Ennis's chest, resting there as they kissed deeper and their arousal grew. Despite having done this pretty much every night for almost twenty-four years, their need for each other could never be sated.

They broke apart and Ennis looked down, his hands fiddling with Jack's belt and zipper. Jack smiled and copied his movement, undoing his jeans and slipping a hand inside, lightly brushing his fingers over the swelling.

"You got a bit of a problem there, huh? Want me to kiss it an' make it better?" he offered with a grin. Ennis bit his lip in anticipation.

"Wouldn't say no..." Jack smirked and pulled Ennis to the bed, their clothes coming off before they hit it. They sank down onto the bed and locked their arms and legs around each other, kissing and rubbing together. "Mmm..."

Jack looked into Ennis's eyes. "Cowboy...there's somethin' I wanna do. Somethin' we ain't done for a while..."

"What?" Ennis whispered, and Jack moved his mouth close to his ear.

"That thing with my tongue...know what I mean?" he breathed, seeing Ennis's curls flutter under his breath. Ennis's eyes widened; he knew what Jack was talking about, and his arousal grew even more.

"Oh...you're right, it's been a while. Go right ahead..." Jack kissed him and then gently turned him over onto his front, straddling him and leaning in close.

"Just relax," he reminded Ennis, running a hand along his shoulder blades. Ennis nodded and braced himself on his elbows. Jack kissed his collarbone and the base of his neck before travelling further south, his mouth nipping and kissing at Ennis's glowing skin. With a glance up, he then stuck out his tongue and began his real work, dragging it very slowly down Ennis's back. He heard Ennis suck in a breath.

"Jack..." He breathed out his lover's name and felt his head spinning slightly from what Jack was doing. Jack inwardly smiled to himself and carried on into the small of Ennis's back, his hand moving around Ennis's waist to take hold of him, stroking him slowly as he moved even further down, knowing that at any moment, Ennis was going to moan. He always had whenever they'd done this. His tongue reached in between the cheeks and he heard Ennis groan. "Oh, fuck!" Jack moved his tongue around a little and continued to stroke Ennis off until he came, feeling himself spill onto the sheets. He removed his tongue and sighed.

"You like that, baby?" he said with a grin, letting Ennis flop over onto his back. Ennis's eyes were a little hazy and his face was flushed.

"Sure did...come up here, Jack..." He pulled Jack into his arms and kissed him with as much strength as he could muster, which wasn't a great deal right now. They kissed lazily and Jack threaded his fingers through Ennis's damp curls.

"You okay?" he asked softly, and Ennis nodded.

"Just fine, darlin'. You got off, didn't you?" he replied, looking around Jack at the lower part of the bed. Jack was touched that he was trying to make sure it had been good for him too.

"Yep, sure did. Always do with you, cowboy." He smiled and rubbed their noses together. "I love you, Ennis," he said softly. "Always have, always will."

Ennis's smile at this declaration reached his eyes, and they sparkled at Jack. It was the most precious physical indication of Ennis's happiness that Jack had ever seen, and he loved to see his lover smile like that. He knew that Ennis had been just as happy as himself over the last twenty-four years, and that they were very lucky. Getting here hadn't been easy for either of them, but they were glad that they'd come out the other side in one piece. Ennis stroked his hand up and down Jack's back. "Love you too, rodeo. Can't believe how long it's been sometimes..."

"I know," Jack replied, sinking further down onto him so that every part of their bodies touched. "I still remember that day in Signal, when I was drivin' away an' saw you in the mirror...just like it was yesterday."

"Yeah...I'm real happy that you saw me that day, Jack. Dunno where we'd be right now if you hadn't." His face looked a little pained. "Sure wouldn't be happy like this..."

"Don't think about it," Jack whispered, brushing their lips together. "It did happen, an' we're really here..." They kissed again and Ennis rolled them both over until Jack was underneath him, ready to go again.

"Right where we should be," he whispered back, claiming Jack's lips again.