I was left at the altar by my
fiancée, but my two groomsmen are only too happy to comfort me.
I thought I was in love with Janine. She’s beautiful, sweet, and we’ve been
dating since freshman year of college. It was the best day of my life when I
asked her to marry me, and she said yes. But then Janine jilts me at the altar
and leaves me like a fool before three hundred guests. I want to cry. I want to
break down, and sob like a baby while sitting on the church steps. Good thing
my groomsmen Hudson and Hayden are on hand to comfort me. But when their
comfort goes beyond mere friendship, suddenly I’m forced to come face to face
with the real Ricky who’s been hiding in the closet his whole
My twin Hudson and I have been friends with Ricky since we were tots. We
defended him against kindergarten bullies and did our best to shield him from
the ups and downs of life. But now, Ricky’s been left at the altar by his
long-time sweetheart. We never thought it was going to work with a woman, but
it wasn’t our place to question his sexuality.
Now Ricky tells us he has feelings. For us. Real feelings that
run deep and strong, not to mention a magnetic physical attraction that pulses
in the air. However, he’s conflicted because after a lifetime of living as a
hetero man, the adjustment is difficult. He questions himself, thinking that
his attraction to men might just be a reflexive reaction to his recent trauma
of being jilted at the altar. How can we help him find himself and see the
light? Living as a gay man is never easy, but Ricky’s emotional conflict is
taking a toll and breaking our hearts. How do we help Ricky accept himself,
when he’s afraid to batter down the closet doors for good?
***Always Three is a full-length MMM novel with a HFN/HEA and no
fuck, Ricky?” Hudson says, taking a step away from me.
how I thought this conversation would go. Then again, I didn’t think I’d
be having this conversation at all.
rests his hand on Hudson’s shoulder, probably sending a burst of calming twin
energy into his brother. “Easy there.”
does as Hayden commands. His shoulders relax, only a bit, but enough that
his mind seems to calm down. He looks at me, his eyes apologetic.
this isn’t about us. I know that.”
rises and another laugh leaves me before I know what’s happening.
Everything feels absurd, but maybe that’s exactly why I’m laughing.
me, I wish this weren’t about me,” I tell them. “I hate that all eyes are
on me. Half of those guests pity me, and half wonder what I did to make
Janine run away.”
I had let
my eyes drift to the floor, but his voice brings my head back up to meet them.
are you guys? Do you pity me, or blame me?”
leaves Hudson to walk towards me. His hand comes up to my neck, his
fingers digging into the nape of my neck, grounding me.
he says confidently.
clears his throat, and my eyes shift to him.
but we’re your best friends. You didn’t think you could talk to us?
You could have called off the wedding,” Hudson says, wounded.
rise in my stomach like bile, and stays in the back of my throat.
you tell someone you’re having doubts about your fiancé?” I ask them,
having doubts about Janine, about this marriage, for a while, but it’s not like
there’s a good time to bring it up. Jack Sparrow talked about the
opportune moment…screw that! There’s no such thing.
want to bother you guys,” I say lamely.
turns to punch the bed, and then bury his face in his hands. Meanwhile,
Hayden stays close by, but I can see the sadness in his eyes. I can’t
stand to see them like this.
tears, hot like boiling water, push against my eyes. My legs are wobbly,
but I don’t want to fight gravity anymore. I drop to my knees, but Hayden
moves too. His hands are on my shoulders, holding my chest up since my
legs refuse to work. I really messed up this time.
“Who am I
kidding? I never had the guts to do something like call off a wedding,” I
fingers grip my skin. It’s nice, but it also brings back an old
memory. Sometimes the other meathead jocks would push me into the
lockers, grabbing my hair and shouting slurs to me. They never did it in
front of the twins. They knew better. I tried my best to hide it,
but I never did anything about it. I’m spineless. I always have
been and always will be.
just glad Janine has the balls I don’t,” I reiterate. “She’s a stronger
person than I am.”
don’t know that for sure,” Hayden says.
grumbles. “He’s right.”
and I both look at Hudson. Hayden leaves me, and I swear he may just
punch his brother.
it back,” Hayden warns.
Hudson says confidently. “At least when it comes to this wedding, he’s
right. Janine was the bigger person.”
you mean?” Hayden asks.
looks at me, without an ounce of pity. All I see is anger. He looks
back at his brother, but his finger points directly at me.
going to commit his life to someone he didn’t want to be with, someone he
doubted. Think about it. What if Danny had stuck by us another ten
years,” he says hotly.
falters, and his eyes drop to the floor. He’s speechless.
between them. Even though Hayden can’t find a retort, I feel like the one
out of the loop.
exactly happened with Danny? Did you guys have a fight?” I question
course, I remember Danny. I didn’t see him much, but whenever I came
around their apartment, he’d be home. He usually stuck to his
phone. He preferred to scroll through social media instead of talk, but
he seemed nice enough. I certainly didn’t think he was the piece of
garbage that he is now, but I guess we don’t always know the people we love.
I saw how
the twins looked after him. They treated Danny like royalty. Once
when they were both sick with the cold, they told me Danny refused to see them
for two weeks until they got better. I’m no relationship expert, clearly,
but what kind of douchebag leaves their partners in the dust like that?
Still, they cared about him, so they ignored all the small issues out of
love. Sometimes love seems so stupid I don’t know why we bother with it.
on the guys once more, and realize that they are staring past me.
Realization flashes through their minds, before their eyes refocus.
weren’t good enough for him,” Hudson says lamely.
throat goes dry and it takes a moment to force my voice to work.
couldn’t be free with us, so he cut himself out,” Hayden adds.
break their eye contact, licking their lips like the memories have a bitter
taste. For them, I know it does. They always fall hard and fast for
have to know that that isn’t true,” I tell them between sniffles. “You
are two of the best people I’ve ever met. Screw Danny. Don’t worry
about me. I’ll be okay. I’ll figure things out. I want you to
focus on yourselves, okay?”
closer to them. They let me, but approaching them feels like walking up
to an animal in the wild. Hayden shakes his head. It’s a small
gesture, but I can tell he’s trying to shake the weight of the world off his
should be the ones that should be telling you you’re okay,” he tells me.
posture tells me he wants to run a thousand miles away from this conversation,
but I know he won’t move. Not while I’m here.
fine. I mean–,” I pause, trying to gather more of my thoughts. “I
mean, this is traumatic, of course it is, but life goes on. Janine leaving
isn’t the end of the world. I’m such a coward that she’s doing me a
don’t love her,” Hudson says. There’s an accusation in his tone, but
mixed with pain and sadness.
you to lay off him, Hudson,” Hayden grumbles.
watches as Hudson and I stare each other down. He’s waiting for me to
give in and admit he’s right. Fine.
Janine, but I’m not in love with her,” I tell them. “She’s been my
support but I don’t think I feel about her the way a husband should feel about his
then, remembering the wedding presents stacked in the corner of the ballroom.
have to forfeit the registry, and return all the gifts,” I tell them.
“It’s a shame. I was looking forward to a nice set of knives.”
and Hayden consider me for a second, assessing my attempt at a joke during a
time like this.
chuckles first, shaking his head the entire time. Hayden smiles, and it’s
simple and wonderful. With that, it feels like a layer of tension lifts
out of the room. Even when they’re mad at me, no one is as good at
comforting me as these two are. With one laugh, my fears melt away.
Their words are armor for when I go back out into the real world.
we’re always looking out for you. You know that,” Hudson tells me.
nod. I can feel my guilt rise back up in my throat.
want what’s best for you guys too. You mean the world to me,” I admit.
crosses the room first. When he reaches me, his hands go to my
shoulders. He doesn’t hold me, isn’t trying to ground me, but his touch
is reassuring nonetheless.
honest. What can we do to help?” He asks.
his face, especially the laugh lines around his eyes. Looking back at
Hudson, he has matching ones as well. They’ve always been big belly
laughers, so full of fun and adventure that they can’t contain their excitement
with the world. I want that. I want to feel carefree.
“Can you unwind the last five years?” I say ruefully.
as I bump my head to the side, feeling the top of his hand against my ear.
you think that’s a little dramatic?” Hudson wonders.
Hudson stop being right today? It’d be infuriating, if I didn’t have such
tremendous respect for my friends.
hands clasp my shoulders then, and it pulls me out of my head. He lifts
one hand, and wipes away a tear falling down my cheek. I pull back,
scared that I didn’t notice I was crying.
I’m sorry,” I say quickly.
shakes his head. “You said you’ll be alright. It’s also okay if you
aren’t,” he assures.
stop, but I lose my breath and gasp loudly into the room. Hudson closes
in then, watching my trembling hands.
it yourself. Today has been traumatic. You might feel a little
manic for a while, but it’s normal. Don’t worry on anything except
feeling better,” he explains.
are again, calming me down when I can’t deal with life. It’s been so long
since we’ve spent this much time together, been alone just us three. I
think I’ve craving it without realizing as much. I’ve been starved of my
best friends for too long, and I don’t want let go now.
“I have a
favor to ask,” I say under my breath.
tell me everything, but Hudson goes ahead and says it out loud.
You know that,” he confirms.
drop, first to Hudson’s lips and then Hayden’s. They’re nearly identical,
both full and pink. They’re a little chapped, but that doesn’t surprise
me. In their line of work, I’m surprised they aren’t in worse shape.
tries to close, but I fight it. I gulp on nothing, wishing I had water,
booze, or something cool to extinguish the fire in my lungs. My face
feels hot. I might just burst into tears again, but I won’t let my nerves
get in the way. Not now.
“I want a
their lips at the same time, my eyes searching their faces for a sign.
Yes? No? Their eyes dart to each other quickly, not long enough
that I can read what it means, but Hayden cuts the silence first.
kiss?” His voice is breathy and unsure.
come up off my shoulders. Suddenly, the heat subsides, and I realize that
isn’t a good thing. He should have left them where they were. I
want his hands on me.
can’t have that though, then I need to put distance between us all. I
step back. I force us to stand in a triangle, eyeing each other equally.
heard me. A kiss. From both of you,” I state, rather confidently if
I say so myself. Where this newfound gusto is coming from, I have no