They held the wedding on the first official day of baseball season. Of course they did. Honestly, Casey wouldn’t have been able to think of a better time, and he couldn’t have thought of a better place.
Where, specifically, was that? Standing on the pitcher’s mound. Where else?
Nate tried for a smile, not as convincing as usual through his paleness and visible unease. God bless the man, he looked ready to topple over and roll away. “If you didn’t know before that I love you, I hope you do now.”
“Breathe. Concentrate. Let me straighten your lapels. Oh, wait.” Casey hooked a finger under the neck of Nate’s baseball jersey. “No lapels.”
His ploy worked, and the teasing distracted Nate. He smoothed both big palms over Casey’s shoulders to settle the lie of Casey’s custom-made jersey. Casey might have agreed to get married in a baseball uniform, but he still had lines, and so help anyone who’d assumed he’d say his vows in a jersey and trousers that didn’t even fit.
“Love? That was never in doubt.” Casey took Nate by the wrists and held them loosely. “I could say the same to you.”
Nate’s grin started to look a bit more realistic. “I still say sporty is a damn good look on you.”
“Keep on talking, Nate. Eventually you’ll find words that make sense.”
Nate made an injured face and broke Casey’s hold on his wrists, but followed up by lacing their fingers together. Much better. Casey squeezed firmly and resettled his weight on the mound. He had a suspicion pitcher’s mounds weren’t normally as high and textured as a cake platform or quite so freshly turned, but Mimi had taken charge of event coordination, lavishly showering the entire affair with her particular version of goodwill and unique sense of style. Even Casey had gotten out of her way. He’d had his ideas. Mimi had…the amazing ability to be Mimi. He hadn’t stood a chance against her.
Not that he minded. To have Nate here, dressed in a crisp new uniform that fit him as well as Casey’s, with a matching ring waiting to go on his finger, Casey figured he’d have agreed to perform the ceremony while painted purple or standing on his head.
To one side, Kenneth and Roger played guitar. There hadn’t exactly been a walk down an aisle as much as a scrum and a free-for-all hootenanny encouraging the pair of them to the pitcher’s mound, but once Casey and Nate had settled, so had the crowd. Casey could make out the tune, though it wasn’t one he recognized. Something slow and thoughtful, but not melancholy. Something that made him think of long summer evenings, cool dips in a lake, and long heated nights.
Nate must have noticed Casey’s curiosity. “It’s original.”
“Their own composition?”
Casey blinked. “Kenneth has hidden depths.”
Nate’s grin flashed true. “Roger’s good at digging them up.”
“Not sure I want to know more about that.”
“Yes, you do.” Nate brushed a kiss across Casey’s forehead. “But I’ll be good.”
“You’d better not. That’d be boring.”
A handful of Poppernutter shrapnel pattered across Casey’s shins. Nate’s too. “No kissing until after the ceremony,” Mimi informed them. She had a family-size box of the stuff open and ready to use. Casey decided discretion was indeed the better part of valor in this case and backed down.
Nate’s shoulders shook with very poorly concealed amusement. “At least she isn’t singing the anthem.”
“I’ve seen what people do to anyone who dares butcher the anthem. Never pretty. Either the cause or the effect.” Casey cocked his head. “How long do you think she’ll last before joining in with the lyrics of her own invention?”
“Not sure.” Nate grimaced. “What are the odds that I’ll make it through the ceremony without hoisting you over my shoulder and running away?”
“If you ever want to get laid again, I’d say they’re good.”
“But if she sings—I was there on karaoke night, remember—I’ll let you.”
Casey chose to ignore the second burst of caramel-coated flak flung their way. Let it be considered practice for what he knew full well everyone planned to substitute for rice or birdseed once the ceremony was over. His well-fitted uniform? Sure to be a goner, star-spangled with sticky sweetness and salt crystals. Funnily, he couldn’t have cared less.
“I didn’t expect so many people would actually show up,” he whispered to Nate.
Nate chuckled. “Neither did I. You don’t mind, do you?”
“Not even a little bit.”
At first he’d intended a small ceremony. Just friends, and perhaps a representative from each side of the family.
What had they ended up with? “Just friends” included the softball-cum-baseball team. And the rest of the teachers at Nate’s school. And Casey’s clients. Surprising how often the circles mixed, but that was life for you. Add seven sisters for Nate, three for Casey, plus their husbands, children, and occasional curious neighbors. To that, add a few casual teams who’d showed up thinking this was an ordinary practice Saturday, and two who were actually meant to play. Plus their supporters. There might even have been a Yellow Jersey firefighter or three lurking bashfully at the back of the crowd.
Casey ran an assessing gaze over the press of humanity surrounding them on all sides to try for a full tally and promptly lost count. Nate could organize tournaments, sure. Weddings, not so much. Not that it mattered. What they had was mad and wonderful, and Casey refused to even consider changing a thing. They were all family today. All loved ones. Let them enjoy.
Kenneth did segue into the national anthem. Casey couldn’t tell if the change in tune was force of habit or deliberate intent. Either way, Kenneth and Roger played well together. Even if his own venture into playing ball hadn’t led him here, to his own wedding, he’d have remembered the day with fondness for Kenneth and Roger’s sake alone.
Mimi wouldn’t be contained much longer. Casey could tell.
So could Nate. “Three…two…” he counted down, then groaned and pressed his head to Casey’s shoulder when Mimi chimed in to belt out the anthem’s lyrics. Casey didn’t mind. Mimi’s voice wasn’t too awful. She didn’t know the second verse, but really, who did know more than one verse of any anthem?
The lyrics she came up with on the spot, on the other hand, weren’t shabby at all.
Casey couldn’t help himself and was snickering helplessly halfway through. Nate too, ripples of mirth vibrating through his solid shoulders. He flexed his fingers, safely intertwined with Nate’s. “Almost there, big man. Pay attention. You don’t want to miss what happens next.”
If he had been a dog, Nate’s ears would have perked up. “Oh? Now you’re the one who’s up to something, aren’t you?”
“Would I do such a thing?”
“Absolutely. What am I about to be subjected to?”
“Nothing you’ll mind. Probably,” Casey amended. “Remember how we talked about writing our own vows?”
Nate looked at him with curiosity and confusion. Yes, they had discussed the idea, but only over a pitcher and a pizza with Kenneth, Roger, and Mimi. As far as Nate had known, it hadn’t gone any further.
Casey watched comprehension dawn. Let no one call Nate slow off the base.
“I absolutely did write vows for us, yes, and they’re already in the reverend’s hands. You can’t be the only mischief maker around here.”
“Gorgeous, believe me when I say I never thought that for a second.”
Wedding kisses were fast taking place near the top of Casey’s favorites list. Even before the ceremony.
Speaking of, he heard the final notes plucked on guitars, and Mimi’s cheery trill crescendo to a stop. A deeper but still feminine clearing of the throat sounded behind them.
“Gentlemen, if you’re ready?”
“And waiting,” Casey said.
Cougar Mom—that was to say, Reverend Cougar Mom, which would never stop sounding odd to Casey—stepped up onto the mound with Nate and Casey. There wasn’t quite enough room for three, but she made do nicely. “I would tell you to join hands, but you’ve already got that covered. And from what I hear, you’ve already taken care of the honeymoon too. So how about I say a few words and let the rest of us get on with our party?”
Casey would never grow tired of Nate’s hands, large and capable of gentle touches, light nudges, and the messiest handwriting this side of a medical college. He took them in a firmer grasp and grinned up at Nate. “Let’s do this.”
Reverend Cougar kept a straight face. Barely. “Dearly beloved,” she started. “Teammates. Family. Random strangers. Bookies. Some of which owe me considerably for the bets they made that this day would never come, because I called it and you didn’t.”
“Oh lord,” Nate murmured, his grin broadening.
“And we haven’t even gotten to the good stuff,” Casey said.
(You can read the rest of Nate and Casey’s story in “Mighty Casey”, available at http://www.loose-id.com/authors/u-z/willa-okati/mighty-casey.html from Loose Id, or at Amazon, All Romance eBooks, or Barnes & Noble.)
About the Author
I’ve been writing and publishing GLBT fiction since 2004, and my work is the love of my life. I can’t imagine anything better than writing sensual love stories with a dash of quirky humor. Stories about tough men, sweet men, Yaoi lovers, cowboys, boys next door, friends who become lovers, polyamory—and so much, much more.
My website is under construction, but take a look at how it’s coming at http://willaokati.com. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/willa.okati. My backlists are available at http://www.loose-id.com/authors/u-z/willa-okati.html (Loose Id) and https://www.totallybound.com/index.php?route=product/author/info&author_id=75 (Totally Bound).
Drop me a line any time—I love talking to readers!