June 15th, 1987
Three days later, Ben returned to the area with his parents, helping them check into the hotel before bringing them to the ranch. Ennis and Jack had never met his parents, so they were both quite nervous. That morning after their chores were done, Ennis had noticed Jack fussing a little over his appearance, as if he was determined to give a good impression. He found it quite endearing and gently kissed Jack on the mouth to calm him down.
"It's gonna be okay, rodeo. Ben told us that they're real nice people, an' that they're happy to come an' see us about the weddin'. We'll be fine."
Jack nodded. "I know, it's just...Ben's gonna be our...nephew-in-law or whatever, an'...you hear all the time about people gettin' married an' their families fightin'. Don't want that happenin', so...I thought we should give 'em a good impression. Don't want 'em pickin' at somethin' an' turnin' it into an insult about us bein' gay. People do that to guys like us..."
"Yeah, they do...but I told you, they ain't like that. Lily met 'em, remember, an' she says they're wantin' to meet us. We'll be fine." He kissed Jack again and saw him smile. "Come on, darlin'." They went downstairs to find Lily and Rose at the table talking. Lily looked as nervous as Jack felt.
"Hey," he called, and they looked over at him and Ennis. "You ready for this?"
"Ready as I'll ever be," Lily replied, hands gripping her mug. "They was real nice when I met 'em, so...I'm hopin' things'll be okay." Ennis and Jack poured themselves some coffee and sat down too, nervously anticipating the arrival of Ben and his parents.
At noon, there was a knock on the front door. They all looked at each other and Lily stood up. "I'll get it." She opened the door to see Ben, his parents standing behind him.
"Hey, Lily." They moved towards each other and embraced warmly, happy to see each other again. "You remember my parents, right...?"
"Yeah. Hi, Mr an' Mrs Slater. Good to see you again." They all shook hands and Jennifer smiled.
"Good to see you too, Lily. How are you doin'?"
Lily smiled back. "I'm great. You guys wanna come in?" They nodded and Lily led them inside, where she noticed Ennis and Jack flattening their shirts a little. "Ennis, Jack...this is Jennifer an' Craig Slater. These are my...uncles, godfathers an' guardians; Ennis Del Mar an' Jack Twist." She looked at Ben as his parents moved forwards.
"Ennis, Jack...good to finally meet you," Jennifer said warmly. "Ben's told us so much about you..." She and Craig had been concerned at first with their son seeing a girl who lived with men like Ennis and Jack, having seen Brian with his partner and how hard it could be. They'd wondered if Lily might have been bullied for it, and if it would ever affect her relationship with Ben. But after hearing so much about Ennis and Jack, and meeting Lily herself, they were satisfied that although Lily had grown up differently, she was just as confident and happy as any other young woman.
The two cowboys shook hands with Ben's parents, Jack looking a little more confident. He had always been more comfortable at dealing with people, but Ennis was a lot more open now than he used to be. "Likewise, Mrs Slater. Um, this is my mama, Rose Twist." Jack indicated his mother, who moved forward with a smile on her face. They all shook hands and moved into the kitchen, where Rose brought out a large cherry cake. Ennis saw Jack look at it and smiled to himself; some things never changed.
As they ate and drank coffee, the talk turned to the wedding. Ben's parents were happy for it to be held at the ranch, and accepted Ennis and Jack's offer to pay for it. But they insisted on paying for the honeymoon, which the cowboys agreed to. They hadn't minded paying for everything, but they understood Craig and Jennifer's need to contribute. It was Ben's wedding just as much as it was Lily's, and they all needed to be able to get along if it was going to work.
"Oh, by the way," Jennifer suddenly said, reaching into her handbag. "Lily, I...I've got somethin' that I hoped you'd wanna wear for the weddin'." She pulled out a flat white box and handed it over to Lily. "Just a small thing, if you want it." Lily opened up the box and her eyes widened. Inside was a garter; striking blue with white lace. "Somethin' borrowed an' blue," Jennifer said softly. "I always wanted a girl to pass that on to, but got two boys. An' since...since Brian ain't gonna be marryin' no girls..."
Lily looked at her, and then at her guardians. They both smiled and could see how humbled she was by the gift. It was just a small gesture, but they could see how much she appreciated it. She smiled at Jennifer. "I'd be honoured to wear it, Mrs Slater. Thank you." Jennifer patted her shoulder and they carried on eating.
Afterwards, Ben and Lily offered to take his parents around town, and Rose was off to the community centre, leaving Ennis and Jack alone. They cleared the dishes away together and Jack kept splashing Ennis with the water. Ennis responded by cracking his ass with the towel, but when Jack carried on he grabbed him, pulling him close.
"Keep that up, an' I'll be teachin' ya a lesson, rodeo," he whispered, knowing exactly how to get Jack's blood up.
Jack grinned and poked his tongue out slightly. "Sounds good to me..." He pressed his lips to Ennis's, drawing his tongue out and lowering his hands to Ennis's ass. When he deepened the kiss, he felt Ennis's fingers fumbling for his belt, and he grinned. "Hang on, cowboy...we gotta get the dishes away." He reluctantly pulled away from Ennis and kissed his cheek. "We can finish this later, promise."
Ennis nodded and copped one last feel before moving back to the dishes. "I'll hold you to that, darlin'."
Lily and Ben took his parents around town, deciding to introduce them to Ennis and Jack's friends and let them know what was going on with the wedding. The invitations would most likely be out by the end of the summer, and it was set to be quite a guest list. Family and friends from all over the country would be attending to see their niece get married, and this thought warmed both of their hearts. They had successfully merged their families together into one, and both sides were friendly with each other. The last thing they needed at the wedding was a fight between family members.
The two couples made their way down the street, first heading for the station to see James. Lily didn't know him too well, but Ennis and Jack had told her how much he'd helped them in the past, especially when Pete Dawson had been terrorizing them. He hadn't been heard from in years, much to their relief, and they hadn't been a target of hate for a long time.
They entered the station and saw James talking to another officer. He didn't look too busy, so they decided to go over to him. "James?" asked Lily, and he turned, smiling when he saw who it was.
"Lily, good to see you. How are you?"
"I'm great. You remember Ben, right?" she replied, indicating her fiancé. He nodded and extended his hand, where Ben shook it.
"Yeah, of course. Congratulations to you two again. What are you doin' here?"
"I wanna introduce my parents to all of Ennis an' Jack's friends," replied Ben. "This is Jennifer an' Craig Slater. Dad, mama, this is James Goodman, the sheriff." They all shook hands and he was soon talking away to Craig. When they turned to leave, Lily looked back.
"By the way, James...the invitations are gonna be out soon, probably in a couple of months. It's for you an' yer wife, so..." James nodded; he had married a few years after Becky's death, and he was happy with his wife. But he would never tell Lily that he'd carried a torch for her mother for so long; it just wasn't right, and there was nothing to be done about it now.
"Alright. We'll look forward to it. Congratulations again, an' give my best to Ennis an' Jack." She nodded and left after the others. They carried on down the high street, finding more of their friends and introducing them to Ben's parents. Both of them watched his parents now and then, seeing that they seemed to be impressed by everything they saw. They all stopped at their favourite restaurant and decided to have lunch together. Lily had a suspicion that Ennis and Jack were taking full advantage of an empty house all to themselves, so thought it might be a good idea for them to stay out as long as possible.
They sat in a booth and Ben looked at his parents, wondering how they were faring out here so far. He hoped that they were happy with the life Lily had here. "So, um...how do you like it here so far?"
His mother exchanged a smile with his father. "It's real nice here, honey. Got some nice places..." She looked around the diner. "An' it seems like Ennis an' Jack have some good friends here. Lily, I have to ask...has anybody ever given them any trouble?"
Lily nodded. "Yeah. Back when my mama was expectin' me, there was this hand called Pete. He was never comfortable with workin' for 'em, but I guess he stayed quiet 'cos they was payin' his wages. Then they hired this other guy, a coloured man named Michael. They gave him the break he needed when nobody else would've. An' Pete hated it, workin' with him. I think he was scared of Ennis, to be honest, 'cos one look from him an' Pete would just hold his tongue."
Craig smirked. "He does seem like the type you don't cross. One of those classic cowboys you see in the westerns. Ain't much of a talker, is he?" Lily shrugged.
"Jack says he's better at talkin' than he used to be. I guess he was just nervous around you guys...but I'm sure he'll relax. He's a real nice guy when you get to know him. Very protective too; you can rely on him to look after you if you need it. An' to see him an' Jack together...they're a real inspiration. But, um...about Pete. Somethin' happened with him an' Michael, an' he ended up punchin' him. They was gonna fire him anyway, but...he just hightailed it out of here. He disappeared an' they thought that would be it."
"But he came back?" his mother asked in concern. "What happened?"
Lily sighed. "He sent 'em a threatenin' letter, set the barn on fire...terrorized 'em in town. It wasn't easy for them. He...he ended up attackin' Jack with a crowbar. He only ended up with a bruised hipbone, but...Ennis was livid at Pete." She shrugged. "But it all worked out. Ennis looked after Jack an' Pete got sent to jail for everythin'. He's out now, but he hasn't been heard from since. Apart from that, they haven't had any grief. They've got a lot of friends here, an' everythin's okay now. You don't need to worry or nothin'; there won't be no trouble at the weddin'."
Jennifer nodded, smiling now. "That's good. So...what are we doin' after lunch?" Ben and Lily looked at each other.
"Well, there's some more friends we'd like to introduce you to. Especially the silversmith, Kate. She made Ennis an' Jack's weddin' rings, an' she's makin' ours too. An' if you want, we could go an' see her brother; he's our doctor."
Ben's parents smiled. "That sounds good, honey," said Jennifer. At this, Lily felt Ben's hand reach for hers and hold onto it, squeezing a little. She smiled at him just as their food arrived, feeling very lucky to have so many wonderful people in her life.
When the dishes were finally away, Jack turned back to Ennis and put his hands on his hips. "Right...where were we?" Ennis smirked, eyes flicking up and down Jack's body.
"Somethin' about me teachin' ya a lesson for gettin' me wet like that."
Jack grinned, moving closer. "I like you wet," he said in a low, throaty voice that went straight to Ennis's groin. He outstretched his hands and pulled Jack up close against him.
"You talkin' back to me, rodeo? Gonna have to teach you who's boss." He dragged Jack out of the room and over to the stairs, attempting to push him up them. They made their way up, tripping along the way, and fumbled for each other's buckles as they banged their way towards their room, mouths glued together. Ennis slammed the door behind them and looked into Jack's eyes; they were full of want.
"Come on, Ennis..." he breathed. "Teach me that lesson..." Ennis pushed him towards the bed and he fell onto it, eyes ablaze. He reached for Jack's buckle and finally opened it, pulling the zipper down and slipping a hand inside. Jack groaned a little. "God..."
Hands started moving and clothes started coming off, being thrown all over the room until there was nothing but skin between them. Ennis reached into the nightstand and pulled out a length of red silk, eyes glittering. Jack grinned as he realised what Ennis was going to do. He put his hands together willingly and Ennis tied them in place, and then tied the other end to the bars of their headboard. Ennis then straddled Jack, hands on either side of him.
"Gonna give ya what for now, Twist. Gonna make you beg fer mercy," he whispered, and Jack shivered all over. It wasn't often that Ennis got this bossy with him, but he loved it when he did. He felt safe to surrender like this, knowing that underneath the domineering side, Ennis cared about him and loved him; he would never hurt him and Jack knew that.
"We'll just see," he breathed, rubbing his crotch against Ennis's and making him gulp. Ennis moved down Jack's body, lightly kissing his stomach and seeing him squirm. He kissed Jack's inner thighs and traced his fingers across Jack's balls, making him buck upwards. "God, Ennis...get yer mouth down there...come on..."
"You beggin', rodeo?" Ennis asked, loving how he was making Jack crazy for his mouth. Jack nodded and breathed heavily.
"Alright, I give. I'm beggin'. Come on, suck me off...please..." Ennis lowered his head and gave him what he was asking for. He took Jack in his mouth and pulled his hips up, driving him further in. Jack groaned and strained his neck. "Oh, fuck..." He thrust helplessly into Ennis's mouth and gave another groan as Ennis pushed a finger into him, looking for the sweet spot. All he was aware of was Ennis's finger and mouth; nothing else was registering in his brain right now. "Ennis...God, you're amazin'..."
Ennis worked Jack over as well as he could, trying to remember what Jack did when their positions were reversed and hoping that he was making Jack feel good. The helpless moans escaping his lover's mouth were a good indication that he was. He took hold of himself and stroked in time to his mouth movements. Jack suddenly released into his mouth with a yell and Ennis tried to hold his hips down as he took it all. He spilled onto the sheets between his legs and Jack collapsed back onto the bed, panting. Ennis sighed contentedly and looked up at Jack; his eyes were shut and his mouth was slightly open, still lost in his post-orgasm flush. "Darlin', you okay?"
Jack nodded and strained against the silk binding his hands. "Cowboy...can you untie me? Wanna feel you..." Ennis crawled back up him and undid his bonds, kissing his forehead as he did so. Jack's arms came up around his back and pulled him close, smiling into his shoulder. "That was good...you sure showed me..." Ennis smirked.
"I hope so, 'cos otherwise I'd have to do it again sometime."
"Huh...in that case, maybe not. I think..." He pulled his face away and smiled up at Ennis. "I think you need to remind me regularly, cowboy. Just to make sure I get it."
"I s'pose." Ennis smiled down at Jack. "I love you, rodeo."
"God...I love you too..." They kissed and then hugged each other close, needing rest after their encounter. After a while, Jack spoke again. "Ennis?"
"Do you think...that there's somethin' after death? Like...do we go on somehow?"
Ennis pulled himself up and looked down at Jack in confusion. "What? Where'd that come from?"
"Well...it's just that...we're always talkin' about how Becky might be lookin' down on us an' feelin' proud of Lily, but...do you think there really is somethin'...after we die?" He gazed up at Ennis, needing to express how he felt. "I mean...what about when we die? Will we meet up on some other side, an' be together even when we're buried?"
Ennis looked down into his eyes. He wasn't sure what had brought this on, but he sensed that Jack needed to know what he thought. "Um, I dunno. Maybe. I've always had this feelin' that Becky's still with us, especially on Lily's birthday. Just get a feelin' that she's there. So...maybe we do go on." He sighed. "I know what yer askin', Jack...an' I ain't got an answer for sure. But...I'd sure like it if we met up somewhere after we died. You know I want us to be together forever, bud."
Jack nodded, running a hand up and down his back. "I do too. An' I reckon we will be. But either way, Ennis...I'm always gonna love you, an' I won't never forget what we've had." He pulled Ennis close for a kiss, but Ennis paused before his mouth was claimed.
"Same here, darlin'. Whatever happens, what we got can't never be taken from us." They leaned in and their lips met firmly, a promise sealed between them.
Three days later, it was Ben's 23rd birthday, and the two families had planned to go out to dinner at Ennis and Jack's favourite restaurant in town. Ben's parents were happy for him to spend the day here in Georgia, as they had been enjoying getting to know everybody. They got along very well with Ennis and Jack, despite all concerns that they wouldn't, and they were looking forward to the wedding in the spring.
Lily had been trying her best not to let the loss of her mother get to her, and most of the time she was able to take her mind off it. She tried to concentrate on the wedding and settling down with Ben. They both wanted a family and to get good jobs now that they had their degrees.
She looked up to Ennis and Jack, and had always been inspired by their commitment and devotion to each other. They had come from poor backgrounds with no real prospects, not even a decent education, and they hadn't had much money when they'd met. She knew all of that, and when she looked at them now she couldn't imagine how they used to be. They were successful ranchers with enough money to keep them comfortable for a long time, including her college fees, and they were strong together. They had the kind of relationship that she wanted with someone, the kind that she had always looked for. She'd had a few boyfriends before meeting Ben, but hadn't really clicked with any of them like Ennis and Jack did with each other. She hoped that she had found it now.
Jack looked at himself in the mirror, buttoning up his shirt and thinking of Lily. Just the other night, he'd gone downstairs for a midnight snack for himself and Ennis, and had seen her sitting on the sofa by the lamp, looking through a photo album. He'd kissed the top of her head and carried on walking, knowing that she wanted to be left alone. On his way back, he saw her waiting for him in the dark, arms hugging the album tightly and eyes looking full of sadness. He'd put an arm around her and led her up to her room, telling her that everything would be alright and then carrying on to their room.
His thoughts were distracted by Ennis coming out of the bathroom after his shower. He was wrapped in a towel and there were still droplets of water on his skin. "Hey, cowboy. You look mighty fine there..."
Ennis came up to him and wrapped his arms around him, kissing his neck. "You don't look so bad yourself." Jack turned in his arms and glanced down, hands brushing against the front of the towel.
"Hmm...wonder what I can find in here. Let's have a look, huh?" He gave Ennis a mischievous look and Ennis smirked.
"Alright. Have at it, rodeo." Jack smiled and loosened the towel, letting it drop to the floor.
"Well, lookit that," he commented, lightly tracing his fingers over Ennis's swelling erection. "Looks like it need takin' care of..." He dropped to his knees and rendered Ennis incapable of further thought.
It took the pair of them a little longer than planned to get ready for the dinner, given that they had ended up in bed, but they were finally ready in time to leave. Lily and Rose were waiting for them downstairs, looking beautiful in their dresses. It struck Jack how much Lily looked like Becky when she was dressed like this; he always remembered her christening when Becky had worn a dress similar to the one Lily was now wearing, and it saddened him that Becky wasn't around to see her daughter as the lovely and mature young woman that she was right now. But he thought back to what Ennis had said; maybe Becky did know, and was watching.
They met up with Ben and his parents at the restaurant, where the owner was delighted to see them. He had been ordering meat from them for years, and had recently been ordering dairy products. He was a good customer and one of their main sources of income.
When they were all sat in a booth and had glasses full of champagne, Lily cleared her throat. "Okay, guys. I'd like to raise a toast; to my fiancé, Ben. You've been my rock for over three years now, an' my best friend. I hope we have a long an' happy life together, like Ennis an' Jack, an' like Craig an' Jennifer. They're an inspiration to us." Everybody smiled at her and she took Ben's hand. "I love you, an' I'm lookin' forward to us livin' together an' havin' a family. Happy birthday, sweetie."
They all nodded and clinked glasses, wishing Ben a happy birthday and drinking their champagne. The food arrived and they started to eat, Ennis and Jack nodding at the owner when he passed them. "So, um...have you called around your family, Ennis? About the weddin'?"
Ennis shook his head. "Not yet. I was gonna do it in a few days. I'll call Cecilia an' K.E., an' ask 'em who in their family would wanna come. I know them an' their kids would, but it's a good idea to check." Jack nodded.
"Right. What are you doin' about Joe an' Maria?" Lily shrugged.
"I dunno. If Maria wants to come, she can. But...if Joe wants to, he's gonna have to be civil to you two. I don't want him here if he's gonna start havin' a go."
Ennis and Jack smiled at her, and then at each other. They were very proud of Lily and the woman she had become. She was a real credit to them and despite how hard things had been after Becky died, they had done a good job in bringing her up. She had fulfilled their need for fatherhood and they knew that she looked to them for inspiration. That was the best thing that they could have done for her, and for Becky.
Two days later, Ennis and Jack were alone in the house again eating lunch. Lily and Ben had gone for a ride, Rose was at the community centre, and Ben's parents were sightseeing in the area. The two cowboys had already taken advantage of the empty house once, not even making it to their bedroom this time. Unwilling to make any mess and cause embarrassment, they had sucked each other off in a sixty-nine position on the sofa, trying not to fall off as they climaxed together. Despite the numerous times they had had sex over the years, both of them were amazed at how they could still go at it like horny teenagers.
As they ate one-handed, Jack looked up at Ennis and marvelled at how he was different, yet still the same. Jack recognised him as the shy young cowboy that had stolen his heart up on Brokeback, but he could also see that Ennis had become someone different over their years together. He was more open and less afraid of showing affection in front of others, and Jack appreciated it. Not a day went by where he didn't send up a prayer of thanks that he'd seen Ennis in that truck mirror, and that they'd managed to hold onto each other despite the odds.
Ennis glanced up and saw Jack staring at him, like that time on Brokeback by the fire. "What?" Jack shook his head.
"Just lookin'. Can't believe how different you are these days. I mean...yer still the cowboy I fell in love with, but...you've changed. For the better," he added. "I'll be honest, Ennis...I always wanted love, an' somethin' stable with someone I could depend on. You were that guy, an' I won't never forget that moment when you said I was the love of your life."
A smile spread across Ennis's face at Jack's words, and his heart soared. "Yeah...surprised myself that day. Never thought I'd be able to say that to another guy, even you. I knew I cared about you, but...tried to push it away. I'm real glad you saw me, Jack, 'cos...if you hadn't, I don't think I woulda been strong enough to chase after ya."
Jack shook his head. "You're stronger than you think, Ennis. You've proved that more than once. But...I think we make each other stronger than we coulda ever been on our own. What we feel for each other...it keeps us goin'." He smiled and kissed Ennis's hand just as the phone rang, and he sighed. "We'll get back to our sweet nothin's later, I guess." Ennis went a little red and got up to answer the phone.
"Brokeback Ranch, Ennis speakin'."
"Ennis, it's Cecilia."
"Oh, hey. How are you?" he asked, and then mouthed to Jack who it was. Jack nodded and smiled.
"We're fine, Ennis. How are you guys?"
"Alright. Lily's lookin' forward to the weddin'. You an' Tom are gonna be there, right?"
"Of course. I think Jimmy an' his wife will be there, an' Katie too, but I dunno about Amy."
"Why? Somethin' wrong?" he asked, fearful that his niece might have suddenly turned against him and Jack.
"Oh no, there's nothin' wrong. It's just...Amy's pregnant." He could hear the smile in her voice and he smiled too.
"That's great, sis. How's she doin'?"
"She's fine. The thing is, she's due in early March, an' I know that's when the weddin' is. So...it might be too risky for her to travel all the way down there while pregnant. If she gives birth before then it might be possible. But...at the moment, I don't think she'd be up to makin' the trip."
Ennis nodded, feeling a little disappointed that Amy wouldn't be here for her cousin's wedding, but understanding that the wellbeing of her and her baby came first. "It's okay, Cecilia. I know that her bein' well is more important right now, an' I know Lily will understand. Give her my best, okay?"
"I will, Ennis. An' my best to everybody there. We'll talk soon, okay?"
"Yep, bye." He hung up and sat back down opposite Jack, who gave him an inquisitive look.
"What did Cecilia say? What's goin' on?" Ennis smiled and took his hand again.
"Amy's expectin'. Yer gonna be an uncle again." Jack's face lit up.
"Aw, that's great. When's she due?"
"Cecilia says March, so she might not be able to make it down here for the weddin'."
"Oh..." Jack said, and then sighed. "Well, ain't like we got much control over that. Still, there's a new baby on the way. More reasons to celebrate, huh?"
Ennis nodded and went back to his lunch. "I'll say. I'm sure glad all the bad stuff's behind us, Jack. Don't think I could cope if somethin' bad happened to us now. We're finally somewhere good, where we don't have no-one troublin' us or makin' things difficult. Don't ever wanna lose what we got, darlin'." Jack smiled at him, giving him that loving look he was so good at.
"Tell you what, cowboy. How about we finish this, an' then go on up an' spend a few hours in bed?" he asked, seeing Ennis's face take on a look of interest.
"Sounds good to me, darlin'." They finished their lunch very quickly and ran upstairs hand in hand, eager to get into bed and naked. Ennis locked their door behind them and pulled Jack in close. "You wanna get up to somethin', rodeo?"
"Hell yeah," Jack whispered, bringing their mouths together. They kissed hungrily and quickly removed their clothes, needing to feel skin on skin. Jack cupped Ennis's cheeks as they kissed and walked him backwards to the bed, where they fell onto it in a heap. They crawled up the bed together and Ennis rolled Jack onto his back, pinning him down.
"Gotcha now, Twist," he breathed, and Jack nodded.
"Guess so. What are ya gonna do with me?" he whispered, pulling Ennis closer with his legs.
"You'll see," Ennis replied, claiming Jack's mouth.