Joey & Jack's Big Day
I stepped out of the elevator with Olly and mum and we made our way into the foyer, my stomach turning over like a cement truck. As we made our way towards the automatic doors I stopped dead for a moment. Mum noticed I wasn't beside her and looked back.
"Joey? Whats wrong?"
"I think I'm gonna freak out!"
"Joey, this really is NOT the time," she said walking back towards me. "It's gonna be fine, you're not going to the dentist you know.
"I think I'd rather be. What if he don't turn up, what if the car breaks down, what if-"
"STOP! Joey Cork, there is a man waiting to give you his life and love and that man is also my son. You will not let him down and you will not let yourself down, now get out of that door and into that car that has caused your father and me to take another mortgage out!"
Her words seemed to snap me out of my… whatever it was and I felt I was able to use my legs again which had almost turned to 2 bits of soft shit on a stick.
"You ok Pal?" Olly asked, rubbing my shoulder as mum walked on.
"Dunno what scares me more, this wedding or the dragon wearing a dress over there."
"Dragon all the way, C'mon before she breaths on you!" Olly's comment made me laugh as we stepped outside and trotted down a series of stairs. Awaiting me was a dark grey Rolls Royce complete with blacked out windows sitting there purring. A tall man with a smart suit got out of the driver's side and opened the back door and mum, Olly and me got in, letting him close it again.
"Congratulations Sir," said the man, looking at me in the rear view mirror.
"Thanks," I replied, trying to smile. The man put the car into gear and moved off onto the main road.
"Joey, will you stop doing that!" mum berated me as I bounced up and down on the plump tanned coloured leather seat. "Honestly, it's like sitting with a five year old!"
"Sorry, I just can't believe how nice these seats are, they're better than my bed," I remarked as a justification for 'testing' them. Some of East London's roads are full of pot holes and unevenness, but the Rolls seemed to float over them giving you the feeling like you were on a train rather than in a car.
"This is a cool car," Olly said, looking all around. I started playing with the window button making it go up and down, until I felt a sting on my leg where mum had just slapped me.
"Joey! What is wrong with you, keep bloody fiddling with things."
"I'm nervous OK!"
"Well suck a mint or something or you are going to drive me nuts!"
I folded my arms to stop the Devil making idle work of them and just watched out of the window trying to think of thoughts not relating to today and what, in my mind, had already gone wrong.
"Is the club set up?" I asked, turning to mum.
"Yes the club is set up." Mum replied, forthright.
"Who is there?"
"Jenny, Steve, Alan and Jesse."
"Who did the food?"
"Was the floor polished?"
"Yes Joey the floor was polished."
"Did you make sure the DJ had our first song?"
"Yes Joey it was top of my list and was done ages ago."
"But what if he forgets to bring-"
"Oh for goodness sake, is this what me and Olly have got to listen to all the way to the registry office? I'm sure the driver is already thinking of putting the car in a ditch to get some peace and quiet."
I sighed a looked away from her. "Someone's grumpy," I mumbled.
The drive across London had taken around twenty minutes, but by the look on mum's face it had taken four months. As we pulled into the private parking lot I looked over towards the building seeing loads of people standing outside looking over at our car.
"They all here for us?"
"Yep," mum said, sounding more cheerful.
"I didn't know I knew that many people," I remarked, trying to speed count them. There must have been at least a hundred and fifty.
"Must be all yours though since I doubt any of Jack's family would turn up," Olly commented.
"Yeah Olly, just try not to remind Jack of that fact when you see him ok?" I said, smirking.
"Jack has a family now and it's this one so I doubt he'll even be thinking about it." Mum said, matter of fact.
The car pulled to a stop and we all got out. I stretched and looked back towards the waiting line of people ready to be seated inside. "I can't seem to see Jack," I said, craning my head.
"He'll probably be inside. The groom usually goes in first."
"But I'm the groom!" I pouted.
"Well that's a discussion you should have had together then, but here we are, still outside."
"So how do you wanna do this, shall I put my arm round you or sommit?"
Mum burst out laughing. "You want a hug on the way in? No Joey, we'll link arms, and you walk slowly ok, no speed walking up to the altar, it looks common."
I looked at Olly. "Says her who punched a grown man when he wouldn't leave our pub one night, that's right classy that is."
Olly looked shocked. "Where was your dad?"
"Oh, he hid." I replied. Olly frowned.
"Of course there is no excuse for violence in any situation I am a firm believer in that, but that particular guy fucking deserved it! Keeping me up until two o'clock indeed, the bastard." Mum remarked trying to sound lady like but failing with the wording.
We stayed and waited by the car as everyone in the long line had obviously been told you go in. I watched from a distance trying to pick out people I knew. Toby was there, I also saw Roman handing out the remaining carnations. I saw a few people from Roman's band, Aunt and uncles I recognised that I hadn't seen in a while… yeah, wonder what they were all thinking as I remembered half of them grew up fighting Hitler.
"Well, looks like everyone is in, how do you feel Joey?" Mum asked, taking my hands in hers.
"Like I want to vomit!"
"Oh Joey, Jack's not that bad," remarked Olly trying to lighten my tension I guessed. All I could do was smile.
As we approached the main doors leading in mum got us to stop and get ready. One of the Ushers Jack had chosen came out and greeted us as I let Olly go and take his seat. In the background I could hear Halo playing which was the tune we picked to replace the traditional stuff they usually play. 'No organ music' I had demanded one night in the kitchen as Jack and I planned the wedding with Mum, Roman and Dad.
"Good, you have your carnations, I brought some out just in case," said a guy who reminded me of Alexander Ludwig from his looks and facial structure. "If you let me know when you are ready I will give the nod."
Mum turned to me. "So, ready to get married to that hunk of yours in there?"
I took in a deep breath and held it, before letting it out slowly. "Let's do this!"
The Usher smiled with a nod before scurrying back inside to let the Priest know we were ready. I heard the music stop and in that moment all I could hear was the distant traffic flowing by and a few birds in the trees that sat along the side of the venue.
"Now remember, when Halo starts again, that's when we start walking in ok. One step every two seconds."
"Oh shit mum, now I'm gonna be timing my steps, I'll probably stack it on the floor,"
"You'll be fine, Just loosely count."
"I'll try, and you keep that mammoth dress away from my feet as well, Cos you just know I'll end up mangled in it."
Mum nudged me, with her elbow as if to tell me to shut the fuck up. We then linked arms and got ready for when the music started again. Which it just had!
"Ok, here we go!"
"Thanks for today; I can't think of anyone else I'd rather do this bit with me."
"See, I'm not all bad am I?" she replied, speaking out of the side of her mouth as we came into view of the crowd. I wanted to close my eyes until I was up there, feeling nervous as every set of eyes in the whole place were fixed on me. I tried to concentrate on Roman who was grinning at me proudly. Then there was Jack, beautiful Jack standing in a slim fit black suit with silver buttons. His blonde shiny hair was immaculate and he'd styled it into a messy spiky number, letting one small bang hang just above his right eye, it just looked awesome, just fucking awesome.
As we got nearer he beamed a smile at me revealing his pearly white teeth and then mouthed silently 'You look perfect' It was at that moment I felt a lump in my throat and had to use super human strength not to shrivel into a sobbing wreck.
I held it together!
Mum brought me to a stop beside Jack, who indecently had not taken his eyes off me since I came through the door. She turned and took a seat in the front row just as I caught her wiping her right eye. I saw dad behind too, he was grinning, and I guessed he probably didn't know why, but that was dad.
I turned back to the priest and looked at him until the music faded away and searched for Jack's hand which was already searching for mine. As they came together I felt a surge of electrified love go through my body and the smile it brought almost locked my jaw open.
"Please, be seated," the Priest said, gently arcing his hand.
There was a gentle rumble as everyone did.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls. We stand here today to witness the coming together of two young people that have confessed their love for one another. Their decision to marry has not been entered into lightly and today they publicly declare their private devotion to each other. The essence of this commitment is the acceptance of each other in entirety, as lover, companion, and friend. A good and balanced relationship is one in which neither person is overpowered nor absorbed by the other, one in which neither person is possessive of the other, one in which both give their love freely and without jealousy. Marriage, ideally, is a sharing of responsibilities, hopes, and dreams. It takes a special effort to grow together, survive hard times, and be loving and unselfish. "
The Priest fell silent for a few seconds before turning to me.
"Joseph Andrew Cork, Do you pledge to share your life openly with this man, and to speak the truth in love? Do you promise to honour and tenderly care for him, cherish and encourage him, stand by him, through sorrows and joys, hardships and triumphs for all the days of your life?"
I paused, looked at Jack and smiled. "I do."
"And do you Jack Sebastian Ryan Stanton pledge to share your life openly with this man, and to speak the truth in love? Do you promise to honour and tenderly care for him, cherish and encourage him, stand by him, through sorrows and joys, hardships and triumphs for all the days of your life?"
Like me, Jack paused, and stared straight ahead. I listened intently for his response but as the seconds passed there wasn't turned and looked at him with a smile, a smile that was starting to fade as he refused to meet my gaze. The priest just stood there expressionless and STILL Jack stayed silent, My face started to feel spiky, my heart started racing, I began to feel hot, and clammy. We were still holding hands but I felt like any moment he was gonna let go. The silence was torture, never had silence felt like such an enemy. I turned round and looked at mum who could only offer me a smile and a shrug. I then leant slight backward to catch Roman's eye who was just looking at Jack with the blood darning for his face; see that just made it feel like it was about to all implode. Was it all in my mind, was time just going slowly. Roman continued to swallow ahrd inunison with me as my chest felt ready to explode. Lastly, feeling light headed, I looked back at Jack, just about to collapse in worry and shock when he looked at me, smirked, squeezed my hand and burst out laughing.
"I do," he replied, trying not to giggle.
I heard the entire room let out an audible sigh as everyone started breathing again proving that it wasn't just me that almost needed a change of trousers. I subtly kicked my foot to the side hitting his shoe with mine. "Bastard!" I whispered just loud enough so he would hear.
The priest cleared his throat, probably relieved himself. "I understand you have arranged your own vows to each other?"
"That's correct," Jack answered for us.
"You may now read them out when you are ready." Said the Priest. Jack and I had arranged to say our own vows as it was something mum and dad did when they got married and Jack thought it was a wonderful Idea. My parents said it was more personal. I was embarrassed at first when we had discussed it, but went along with it anyway. It had also been decided that Jack would go first.
I expected him to pull out some notes or something but the cocky shit had rehearsed it looked like as we moved to face each other, his soft, innocent soft complexion back once again.
"Joey, for all that we have been through since the day we met I have chosen, and still to this day choose to be with you. I made that choice then, as I do now, to be joy to your heart and food for your soul. To learn with you and grow with you, even as time and life change us both. I promise to laugh with you in good times and struggle alongside you in bad times, now and forever, just as I always have. I promise to respect you and cherish you as an individual, a partner, and an equal, knowing that we do not complete, but complement each other. May we have many adventures and grow old together, for I will, as I have always done, love you and you only."
Jack stopped still staring into my eyes, a sincere look on his face as tears streamed down mine. The lump now in my throat threatened to seal up my voice completely as I battled to compose myself.
I wiped my eyes and turned to look out into the crowd of seated guests. "Sorry for blubbering guys, you'll get mine in a minute, I just didn't know he wrote that and it knocked me for six," I said, causing a gentle chuckle from our guests. Some of them too had succumbed to Jack's words.
I took a deep breath and pulled out small piece of paper I'd stuffed into my trouser pocket. Jack laughed before turning towards the crowd himself. "See, too lazy to learn his lines," he remarked causing a louder laugh to permeate the room. His face turned serious again as he returned to me and I took a deep breath.
"Jack Stanton, I take the love you hold in your heart, and vow to spend my life cultivating that love. You have been my rock and my light in a sometimes dark place. You have been my rudder, fighting to keep my course true and steady. Our relationship and our love is my most important consideration; it gives me strength, and I vow to put every effort into strengthening it in turn through honesty, faithfulness, and patience. For all the days that we live with one another, I promise to spend each day working to become a more true version of myself, and I will do my upmost to help you do the same. Through our humble beginnings and our less than conventional past I am blessed to have found you, blessed to have you love me, and I will do my best always to realise the better part of you and in so doing will always show you the better part of me."
It was Jack's turn to blubber now as I watched him wipe the flowing tears from his face. I must admit, I did struggle at certain points to get through my own speech as I thought about some of the times he had stood by me when I was such an asshole to him, and yet here we were.
I looked back towards the Priest who then smiled and turned to Roman. My brother stepped forward and placed the rings we had got each other on to a white silk pillow the Priest had picked up. Jack reached out and took mine while I took his. We then looked back at the Priest and waited.
"May these rings be blessed as a symbol of your union. As often as either of you look upon these rings, may you not only be reminded of this moment, but also of the vows you have made and the strength of your commitment to each other. You may now place the rings upon the finger of your chosen love.
Jack carefully took my right hand and gently pushed up the ring until it was snug against my engagement one he'd got me some months ago. As soon as he let my hand go I did the same to him and beamed a grin which he returned.
"Go now in peace and live in love, sharing the most precious gifts you have, the gifts of your lives united. And may your days be long on this earth. Now, with the power vested in me and with these rings signifying your union complete, I now pronounce you lawfully married. You may kiss your husband."
With two stupid smiles on our face I leaned into Jack and gave him a passionate kiss to rival any we had before pulling away and telling him I loved him, which he mouthed back.
Roman was like a bouncing bunny as he came to shake our hands, giving Jack a kiss on the lips and me one on the cheek followed by a bonus wink.
"Man, I am so made up for you guys," he said, as Olly rushed over to greet us. Olly gave us both a hug as we were joined by my very proud looking mum.
"Ohhhhh, Honey, congratulations, I am so happy for you… and you Jack, my little handsome adopted one, come and give your mummy a big Juicy hug."
I stepped to the side and let her have her thing with Jack and in doing so met the hand of my ever conservative dad. "Son, well done, I'm proud of you."
"What do you mean really? Of course I am, and if anyone has a problem with what you have done today you know where to tell them to come right?"
"You got it, now lest get back to the club and get this party started."
"Uh dad, it's traditional to eat first."
"Joey, eating is for wimps, and your mother hasn't let me get drunk for… it's been too long to remember, now might be my only chance!"
I laughed and let my dad mingle as I was now being swamped with other people wanting to talk to me.
After spending fifteen or so minutes in the church as people chatted to us we were finally able to leave. We walked out into a shower of confetti holding hands as a few people told us to stop on the steps to take photos. Olly and Roman continued to chuck boxes of glitter over us as mum and dad looked on laughing.
In amongst all the chaos, jack squeezed my hand and looked at me while we tried to hold our smiles as long as we could before our mouths ached.
"So, how does it feel to be Mr Joey Stanton?" Jack asked. As we stood there like statues while people clicked away.
"Excuse me? You mean how does it feel to be Mr Cork?"
"Oh, I see where this will go. Right then, we'll have to do what all the gays do."
I sighed and put on a false serious face. "Ok, double barrel it is!"
"Well thank you, Mr Joey Stanton-Cork."
"No, thank YOU, Mr Jack Cork-Stanton"
"Rock paper scissors for who gets the lead name?" Jack asked.
"Yes but not here, it might look funny when the photos are passed around."
"Point taken, let's get to the car now shall we, all these people make me feel like a A list celeb."
"Well Jack, you are more handsome than most!"
"Hmm, someone is after sex I sense?" Jack remarked, squeezing my ass discreetly
"On our Wedding day?! You're damn right I am!"
After the professional photos had been completed on the smart lawn outside the building, Mum and dad had let us take the Rolls Royce back to the club alone after thinking it would be a nice gesture. It was, much to the disapproval of the driver, as we spent most of the journey holding hands and snogging while I bounced up and down on the seats a few times.
The car pulled up outside chariots and we got out making another attempt to rid ourselves of glitter and confetti before walking in the main doors. Inside we travelled down to the basement floor and into what was usually the Foam room. Today however it had been made into a seating area for a hundred and fifty guests to eat.
Just as we arrived Jesse, our new and rather camp barman came scuttling out at speed to greet us, almost falling flat on his face due to the recently buffed floor.
"Oh, oh, oh, my little darlings, you look so handsome," he screamed, darting out his arms and pushing hands out in opposing directions. "Tell me alllll the gossp!"
"Still not took that job as a truck driver yet then Jesse?" Jack remarked. I rolled my eyes.
"You, sister, have a bad sense of humour!"
"Hey Jesse," I said as he pulled at my hand and kissed it, eyeing my ring at the same time.
"OOOOH, BLING ALERT, Honey that is one ice white treasure you got that, it's fabulous! Oh, and you's Jack, how sexy on such a sexy finger, you know I just wanna eat you pair of cutipies!
Hey, would you mind if I just got an exclusive here? Jesse asked, pulling out his latest phone.
If you must Jesse," Jack answered, pulling me into him for our shoot, Jesse style.
"Ahh, my little sexy angels I am just soooo proud of you, and you both look so beautiful together. SMILE!!" There was a series of flashes and Jesse replaced the cell back in his pocket.
"So how was your special day?"
"It was awesome, Jack made me cry!" I said, looking at him frowning.
"Honey, with looks like his I think I'd cry every day… hmm, you look so dashing in that suit sweetie!"
"So where are the others?" Jack asked, peering towards the staff door behind the bar.
"Oh you know, busy busy busy, but I just had to come out here and offer you my congrats!"
"You sure did Jesse," Jack said, causing me to elbow him.
"Well chickens, I better go and join the slog, you two have fun tonight won't you."
With that he left and I caught Jack rolling his eyes. "You really are rude sometimes." I said, smirking.
"Man, he is just so full on, remind me why mum hired him again?"
"Meh, he brings in shit loads of people on gay night, and he's probably cheap. Actually, assume those reasons are in reverse order."
"He needs neutering or something, might calm him down." Jack said, making me laugh.
"Hey I might be like that one day."
"The day that happens will mean a one way trip to Dignitas for you mark my words! "Now, what shall we do, I'm starving."
"Better wait until people start arriving I guess… Hey but we can always raid the kitchen right?"
"Yeah baby, I like your style."
At the head of a huge long table Jack and I sat, our plates empty, chatting the immediate people next to us. Roman was telling Jack about some of the gigs he'd played while I chatted to dad about… fishing! Just as I was about to try and desperately change the subject I heard a tapping of a spoon on a glass and the room fell quiet with Roman got to his feet.
"Oh god!" I mumbled, causing jack to smirk. "Hey dunno what you're laughing at, this is the part where he digs a load of shit up on you, not me!" I spouted, giggling evilly.
"Now what could he possibly have to say about me?"
"I think we're just about to find out."
"Ladies and gentlemen, dwarfs, boys and girls and those who can't decide… Jesse. Thank you for coming. You can all leave now!"
"Not bad," Jack said, as the room broke into laughter."
"As you will find out I have never had to do one of these speech things before. Ever since I found out that Jack had proposed to my brother almost four months ago, I have spent the last two hours trying to think of something to say. Now, as you will see I have no notes, so although this will be a bumpy ride, it will be me. On my side today to help me along is this almost finished bottle of wine. God bless the dutch."
"Get on with it Roman, people are falling asleep," I said, grinning.
"I thought about making lots of jokes as is tradition for a best man speech, but I sense the ones I just did didn't live up to much, so I'll say this. The person you see here today has not had the easiest life growing up. Like many of us in this room he has come from nothing and crawled his way up life's greasy pole to be the man he is today. A man that has never lost sight of what it is to be a decent human being, a man that has stood by my brother through some real bad times, and a man who I am proud to say is a dear friend and a dear brother. Jack is a patient man, measured by how well he has dealt with my pain in the ass younger brother. Where many of us would have put a pillow over his head, Jack just smiled and said, 'It'll be ok.' Some of you may be sitting here who have attended the wedding and thought how unconventional today was. Some of you may even be here just because a friend or family member is and think what Jack and Joey have done is not right. But instead of chastising you for thinking like that, all I would ask is that you look at these two guys… two guys that love each other and ask yourself, how great is it that each of them have someone to love and some to love them. It doesn't matter if one of them is not female, and I'll tell you why. Because love itself is both sexless and imageless and it chooses whoever accepts it. So please, will you all raise a glass with me and wish these two lovebirds well for the future and may they live long and prosper! To Joey and Jack!"
"To Joey and Jack," the room said in unison. Roman sat down.
"Hey Roman?" I asked. "What was with the whole Star Trek thing at the end?"
"Oh shut up, I was flying by the seat of my pants; I left the fucking speech at the hotel!"
"Well played, bro!"
"It was a really heartfelt speech Roman, and I'm glad you put the bigots in their place as a bonus." Jack said, pouring him and me a drink.
"Yeah well, I've counted six so far, don't know why they fucking came."
"Six, arrgh, you beat me, I had five on the radar. Another wine?"
"Wine not!" Roman replied, before bursting out laughing.
With the tables cleared away Jack and Roman seemed to be very well lubricated and eager to get the party started as the DJ warmed the room up with a few dance numbers. I stood chatting to a few guests and some cousins I didn't even know existed. Mum came to join me and looked over at Jack.
"I don't think I've ever seen him so happy," she remarked, as looked over at him trying to give Roman a piggy back ending in the both of them falling over.
"Yeah bless, look at them, Don't they make the perfect couple," I sniggered. Mum was just about to say something when the DJ came over the speakers .
"Welcome everyone to Chariots Night club, tonight we will be celebrating the happy couple with some new and old songs and I invite you to hit the floor when you're drunk enough. In the meantime can I ask everyone clear a space so Joey and Jack can enjoy their first dance and one they have asked me to invite you all to join them if you wish."
"I better go wrestle him out of Roman's grip before he's too injured to dance," I said to mum, as I walked off to collect my tipsy husband.
Regarding the first song we were about to dance to, Jack and I had mulled over more than a hundred tunes since we had got the preparations under way. We trawled over loads of lyrics trying to find something that spoke about us as individuals or us as a couple and managed to whittle it down to three. Then about four weeks ago Jack came home from work and rushed into our bedroom shouting 'I got one, I've got one'. He said even though it was just about me, he begged me to let it be our song because it said perfectly about how he summed up his feelings for me, and about who I was to him. Anyway he got me to listen to it that night and after balling my eyes out for ten minutes straight thinking about how perfectly the song reflected how he saw our relationship, I'd agreed without any hesitation that the song should be ours forever.
And so it was.
"Ladies and gentleman please put your hands together for our new married duo as they dance to Steve Azar's Sunshine. Now all say ahhhh!" announced the DJ as we walked into the centre of the floor. Then, with my arms wrapped around my new husband the song began, and just like the night he'd first played it, I lost myself in his arms knowing without any doubt I was indeed his sunshine.
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