And of course, once back on the ship, Glenn and Scott just kept going on and on about what they’d been through. This was becoming a grander and grander tale the more they told it. Sort of like the story about the fish that got away was always bigger and bigger.
“And he never shouted!” Glenn said like it would be hard to be believed. “Not once.”
Tony chuckled. “Mitch never shouts, unless he’s shouting at me.”
I rolled my eyes. “I never shout at you, Tony, unless you shout at me.”
Tony shrugged. “I’m Italian.” That was always his explanation about why he shouted.
Scott chuckled. “Mitch was badass!” He said firmly. “I’m glad he was on our side.”
I grinned at that. I was one of them.
Glenn nodded. “Well, tomorrow we arrive in St. Lucia. Maybe we should go and do something together. Who better to make sure we’re safe than a former cop?”
“A cop!?” Eric said in shock.
Then the questions about why I wasn’t still a cop and all that. At the end of the discussion, it was decided we would go see Castries. St. Lucia together. Everyone that was there, that is. Ian and John were off somewhere that evening. I got the feeling things were not going so well for them. They almost never spoke with each other and very little with us. I hoped they’d see what it was that attracted them to each other, or there was little hope for them having any future together.
The planned itinerary we had expected changed. As in what I had heard we were going to visit, for reasons of weather or politically we had changed. St. Lucia was unexpected. It was a nice city, but it was mostly to shop. We had a great time with our new friends. We ate at a restaurant in Castries. Our next stop was Barbados. I heard the people of Barbados loved us. Gay men, that is. Tony and I had booked a day at this beach resort. We planned to do nothing but relax, swim in the warm water and go back. If for no other reason than I had another tanning session. Until I found we could swim with dolphins. We did! It was wonderful. Now Bridgetown, Barbados was shocking to me. It was so clean!! Now, I know they catered a lot to tourism and all those like us, but there was not one scrap of garbage I ever saw. Then we got to the resort and lay out again and played in the water. Then there was Martinique. What was funny here was Tony saw that they offered horseback riding on the beach his insisted we do.
“You want to ride a horse.” I said to Tony to be sure I heard him correctly. “On the beach.”
Tony nodded. “Sure. Why not?”
I looked at him uncertain. “Well, because a horse is basically a farm animal and you’re not that comfortable with farm animals.”
Tony frowned. “We have horses in New York City.”
I nodded. “Yes. You do. And how many horses have you ridden in New York City?”
“Two.” Tony growled. “And I do okay with farm animals. Your cow back on the farm loves me.”
I grinned remembering our family’s very gentle cow. “Mrs. Edna!? Of course she loves you, she loves everybody. She’s the sweetest cow I know. And I’ve known a lot of cows.”
Tony nodded. “And why the name Mrs. Edna again?”
I chuckled. “Because when she chews her cud she reminds me of my third grade teacher Mrs. Edna. But having the sweet cow love you is not the same a riding a horse. I just want to have a good time and you not to get hurt.”
Tony shrugged. “It’s a horse. How am I getting hurt?”
“There are plenty of ways. They can kick, bite…the possibilities are nearly endless.” I said back. “But sure, I’d love to go. Now tomorrow is our anniversary, so be careful. I want you to be there whole at any celebration.”
Tony waved my concern off. “Yea, yea.”
When we arrived to where we were picking up the horses, I was familiar with horses. It was clear Tony was not. I watched Tony try to relate to the horse he was given, a sweet mare that was about as docile as I’d ever seen. I chuckled as he got near her and turned his nose up.
“Don’t they give these things a bath?” Tony asked.
I bit my tongue to keep from laughing. “I know they must. But she’s a horse, honey. It will smell like a horse.”
The handler was watching, too, not so convinced giving Tony the horse was a good idea. She frowned as she whispered to me. “Has your husband ever been on a horse?”
I shrugged. “He said he’s ridden twice, but that was before me.”
The handler watched as I absently petted the horse I had around his nose and up his neck. “But you’re okay with them.”
I nodded. “I was raised around cows, horses, chickens and all that. He’s a city boy.” I watched as he looked at the stirrups and was about to put the wrong foot up, which if he did, he’d be facing backwards in the saddle. “The other foot, honey.” I said quietly.
He looked down and then nodded. “Oh, yea.” And I was relieved when he managed to mount her properly. “There. Ya see?”
I smiled as I nodded. “I see.”
“Bebe is a very gentle animal.” The handler said more to assure me than Tony, but Tony, too. “She’s not very spirited and will go and stop with the slightest nudge. They both know the path you’ll be taking.”
I nodded again. I touched her arm. “It’s okay. I’ll be with him. At worst, we’ll walk them back.”
Tony turned indignant in protest. “Hey!”
I waved at Tony. “That was more to reassure Miss. Candy here. I know you’ve got it.” I said, but looked back at the handler. “She’ll be fine.” I whispered to her, but I did the motion pointing at myself the with two fingers to my eyes and pointed at Tony telling her I’d watch him which of course Tony didn’t see. The woman smiled and nodded.
“Okay.” I said mounting my horse. “Let’s go.” I stirred my horse toward the door and was heading toward the beach. With no real urging, Bebe followed. I watched as Tony rode not that gracefully.
After a mile or so, I was enjoying the ride on the beach, but I was in constant vigil of Tony. He’d gotten better, but was still not that comfortable.
“Why, Tony?” I asked. “And please tell me the truth.”
He looked slightly offended. “I always tell you the truth.” Then he saw me looking at him.
“The whole truth.” I clarified. “Why ride today? This really isn’t what you want to do. So, explain to me why it was so important today.”
He sighed. “You have done so much for me. And it was just for me! I mean, you’ve changed how you dress, for me. You’ve changed how you live, for me. You’ve learned a new language, for me. You’ve done so much and fit so well in my life…” he shrugged. “I just wanted to do something to show I can fit in your life, too. If by riding a horse every now and then proves that to you, I’ll do it.”
I slowed my horse down to get beside Tony. “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me.” I smiled at him. “You don’t have to change for me, Tony. I love you. The fact you’re willing to do it says a lot about you.” I kissed him gently. “And I have to admit, I doubted you could do it, but you’re doing well!” I pointed to the horse. “She’s not uncomfortable. And you’re staying in the saddle.” I ran fingers in his hair. “I love you as you are. And I love you even more for proving you’re willing. I don’t need to change anything you don’t want to.”
Tony nodded with a smile. “Good.” Then he looked at me a little guilty. “Because I’ll be needing your help later.”
I inched away a little to see him clearly. “Oh? Why?”
He stood a little in the saddle. “I’m feeling it now. I’ll have a sore ass, I just know it.”
I laughed, hugging him. “I’ll massage it, whatever you need. Even kiss it to make it better.” I looked at the surf and felt the breeze. “But this is romantic.”
Tony nodded looking at the surroundings. “I thought it would be.” He kissed me. “I love you.”
I kissed him back. “I know.” Putting my forehead against his. “We’ll ride a little more, then go back so you can recover.”
Tony nodded. “That sounds good.”
We did ride on, but I could feel my horse wanted to do more. “Baby, I’m going to get him to run. I’ll be right back.”
Tony frowned. “I can’t do that. I don’t think Bebe has it in her anyway.” He waved and dismounted. “But you go. Enjoy.” He smiled.
“Okay, let’s go!” I took the reins. “Yah!” I said touching my horse’s sides gently and he took off like a shot! It was glorious! Wind in my hair as we rode though the shallow surf. My horse was enjoying it and so was I. But too soon I turned him back around and raced back to Tony. He and Bebe were getting better acquainted as she kept nudging Tony. “I think she likes you.”
Tony looked at the horse smiling at her and nodded. “She’s growing on me.”
That night we came down for dinner. Tony was holding his back as we approached the table. We both knew the pain was lower, but he couldn’t hold his ass.
Seth stood as we approached. “Are you okay, Tony?”
“What happened?” Eric asked as Tony eased into his chair gently.
I took Tony’s hand. “He’s just a little saddle-sore.”
“Saddle-sore?” Glenn chuckled. “He rode a horse!?”
I nodded. “He did just fine.” I said smiling at Tony. “All so he could say he loved me.”
Scott hit Glenn lightly. “Now that’s romantic! He’s willing to put up with pain to say he loves Mitch!”
“And what pain have you had to prove your love to me?” Glenn shot back.
“Your mother!” Scott declared. “Ten years of pain!”
Which Glenn nodded with a grin. “Yea, she hated Scott when they first met.”
“Absolutely hated!” Scott repeated to emphasize. “She just knew I made her precious little boy gay!” Glenn nodded with a chuckle. “When he was the one that first kissed me! If anything, he made me gay!” He kissed Glenn on the cheek. “But it was a good kiss. But I tell her…Gladys, you had to know he was gay before. I’ll give you three reasons. Liza Minnelli, Ethel Merman and Barbara Streisand. He had everything they ever made!”
Glenn nodded. “That was before Cher became big with gay men and practically every gay man wanted to be her.” He explained. “Now she loves him. Even bypasses me to speak with him on the phone!”
By now we were all laughing at them.
“Well, my parents weren’t happy when I brought Tony home.” I grinned at Tony who was shaking his head. “But they warmed up to him.”
“My family was fine with Mitch. Except for Papa at first.” Tony said with a smile. “But he was just being protective and he quickly warmed up to him.” He kissed me. “Who wouldn’t?”
I looked at Seth and Eric. Neither of them were very happy. “I guess not all stories are happy ones.”
Seth shook his head. “They’re not. If my father could, he’d kill Eric. If Grandpa hadn’t made me the beneficiary of his will, giving me his part of the vineyard, we wouldn’t have been able to come here.”
Eric shrugged. “I have no parents alive, so that is moot.”
I nodded with a sad smile. “I’m sorry, to both of you.” Then I looked around. “Where is Ian and John? I’ve not seen them in nearly a week.”
Eric shrugged. “They’re still alive. I saw Ian by the pool. Alone.”
Tony frowned, shaking his head. “I didn’t see a lot of love there in the first place.”
“Relationships can be difficult.” I said. “They should be based on more than sex.”
“But they don’t have to be.” Seth stressed his firm agreement. “A simple thing like talking makes a world of difference.” Eric was nodding as he took Seth’s hand.
“And trust.” I agreed taking Tony’s hand.
“And honesty.” Tony said kissing me, this time on the lips. Then he looked at the other two couples. “And just a reminder, you’ll be without us here tomorrow night.”
Eric smiled with a nod. “Right, it’s your anniversary tomorrow. Congratulations.” He held a glass. “Wait!” He saw Sasha. “Can we get a bottle of champagne, please?”
Sasha smiled with a nod. “Of course.”
“You can’t toast with wine.” Eric grumbled with a smile. “It’s a rule.”
Tony groaned letting his head fall back. “Not you, too with the rules.”
Eric shrugged. “Rules keep us from chaos.”
The next day we were in St. Thomas. It was good, but Tony was a little distracted. We sat on a beach. I finally looked at Tony.
“You already said I do. And our fathers gave us away.” I said lightly to him.
That seemed to catch him off guard. “What?” Then he nodded. “I’m sorry. I just want tonight to be special.”
“If will be.” I nodded. “If you're here.”
He smiled. “I will be. And am. You mean everything to me. I want it to be magical.”
“How can it not be?”
That night we dressed for dinner. I was told to dress up, so I did. Tony was smiling, but he was still dressed very well and he was damned handsome! He finally came to me. And off of him I could smell he had done the whole cologne, body wash and shampoo thing.
“You ready?” Tony asked kissing me.
I smiled taking his hand. “Let’s go. Though we may have to come back. With you smelling so good, I may need to ravage you.”
“You can do that later. I promise.” He had to lead me, for I didn’t know where we were going. We went down to the level of the dining room. Then he took me through the dining room full of men and conversations going on to a private room where Tony knocked. The door opened immediately by Sasha who bowed slightly and motioned for us to enter. He was dressed in nice slacks and a shirt often worn by men in tuxedos, not his usual as a waiter out in the dining area. Stepping in the room, there was one table set, very elegantly but the lights were low and candles added just a little more light. There was soft music playing in the background.
“Gentlemen, I will be your sole waiter for the beginning of the night.” Sasha said. “If you’ll take you seats.” He motioned to the table with only two chairs. “We’ll start with any drink you prefer.”
Sitting, I was smiling at the whole room. The hum of conversations from the dining room was now silent and we were alone. The moonlit view of the water from the large windows was so relaxing. It added a romantic feel to the whole situation. Tony smiled as drinks were poured. Then a few minutes later, Tony held his hand out. “Do me the honor of dancing with me?”
“You don’t even have to ask.” I smiled taking his hand. We stood up and arms went to familiar positions from the many times we’d danced and hugged. We knew each other very well. “Tony, this has been the greatest trip I’ve ever been on.”
Tony smiled. “For me, too.” He took a slight breath. “You asked me several times, am I rich.” He chuckled. “Now I can answer that question honestly. We are both very rich men. Not because of money, but we both have that one person that loves us more than anybody else could. I am a rich man, because you agreed to spend all of time with me.”
It was said so sincerely. I couldn’t help but miss a breath. “You’re an amazing human being, Tony. Words that are said, like I love you, is a mere reminder, not a revelation any more.”
We danced a while, then sit to begin our meal. The courses came out, and being a new convert, I smiled as my new favorite, escargot was presented. So, it’s snails. They were good! My delight was when the second course came out. But I was never asked if I wanted it. When Sasha put the plate he uncovered in front of me. I just shook my head smiling.
“Haggis?” I grinned at Tony. “You had them make haggis?”
Tony nodded with a grin. “Well, it’s been a year since you had it. You liked it, didn’t you?” I nodded. Tony smiled and said. “I would have had it brought here from Scotland, but import laws and restrictions. Fortunately, there are amazing chefs here that can make anything.”
I chuckled. “Italian wine, Scottish food….what else?”
Tony smiled. “You’ll see.”
There were other great dishes provided and I loved it all. But then suddenly, the lights came up. The door opened and Sasha brought in a cake on a cart. With him were Scott, Glenn, Eric and Seth. The cake was a bit familiar, for it was our wedding cake! The top portion of the cake that was reserved for the couple to share at their one year anniversary.
“Now with this, I did break some laws.” Tony confessed, but he smiled. “To which I will gladly pay any fine. If it is against any law to import this cake overseas, I’m guilty. It’s worth it.”
“Happy anniversary!” The others said in unison.
Then I looked at the wedding cake topper. There on top were to two grooms, one in the black tux, the other in the kilt and the one in black had his hand up the kilt on his soon-to-be husband’s ass. I laughed when I saw them.
Champagne was poured and passed around. I insisted that Sasha was included in the toast. Then he insisted he make the toast.
“To the happy couple.” Sasha said happily. “May your love indeed be eternal. Za na-va-brá-tchnyh.” He grinned. “That’s Russian, of course. To the newlyweds.”
Tony and I chuckled. “Of course.” We both said as glasses were clinked and we all drank to our health.