This material is copyrighted by Shanyn Hosier. Any retranscription or reproduction is illegal. It contains strong language and other material intended for adults only.
John’s eyes frequently drifted to Beth, cuddling his baby nephew Conor, and Paul.
“God, Kris, I want this so bad I can taste it,” he murmured.
“What?” his sister half-snorted, half-chuckled, like she thought he was joking.
“All this.” John’s eyes scanned the room of happy people, felt the love imbuing the very air he breathed. “I’d give anything to have what you have. A loving home. A strong marriage. Kids especially.”
Kris sighed, and John thought it was a sympathetic sound. “What do Beth and Paul think?”
John straightened in his chair, clasping his hands together on the table. It was his standard negotiating pose, he suddenly realized. His eyes found Beth once more, and the set of his shoulders softened. “The three of us haven’t specifically sat down and discussed it,” he couched, “but Beth’s totally on board now. She told me last week she’s ready to start trying.”
“That’s great,” Kris replied cautiously. “And Paul?”
John pursed his lips, resisting the urge to look at the man he’d lived with for the past twelve years, the man he knew better than any other human being on the planet. “I know this makes me sound like a jerk, but if I wait for Paul to realize he’s ready, we’ll both be too old to get it up.”
Kris shook her head slowly, resting her hand on his. “JD… this isn’t the kind of thing you can force someone into.”
“Trust me, I know him. And it’s worked before.”
His sister raised an eyebrow.
“If it wasn’t for me forcing the issue, he and I wouldn’t even be together, Kris,” he argued, keeping his voice low, because this wasn’t an aspect of their relationship he was particularly proud to admit. “If it wasn’t for me, Beth wouldn’t be in our lives. If I hadn’t pushed him out of his comfort zone, she wouldn’t be living with us now.”
Kris’ eyes darted in Paul’s direction, and John risked a look at him then, too, finding his lover chuckling with Scott and Stan and Mike. John’s heart swelled once more, because this was an aspect of their relationship he was damn proud of: that Paul felt safe, respected, even loved here within their steadfastly loyal little clan.
“And just look at him: he’s happy with all of it. I’ve made him happy because I’ve forced him into things he didn’t realize he wanted.” It wasn’t such a bad job of rationalization, was it?
Kris looked like she wanted to concede the point but wasn’t a hundred percent convinced. He could see her point: he sounded like a selfish, conceited asshole, but Kris didn’t know Paul like he did. Paul denied himself so much happiness because he was afraid to think he deserved it. And John knew better.
“So that’s it? Beth will get pregnant, and you’ll have a kid?”
He told himself it was healthy skepticism in her voice, not judgment. But she made a fair point: the situation was hellaciously complicated.
“I want to do this the right way,” John averred, his righteous dander kindled not by Kris, but by the pervasive societal prejudice against everyone deemed different. “I don’t want Beth to feel vulnerable to what her mom lived through, unmarried and abandoned. And I need to make sure they’re both protected from whatever dumbass conservative politician wants to stick his nose in our business and tell us our love isn’t real, or isn’t right. That our family somehow isn’t good enough.”
This kind of bigotry and intolerance had long aggravated him. The hypocrites who used religion as an excuse to persecute others, deluded they were somehow superior, infuriated him. He wanted to fight against the assholes who pretended their so-called morality gave them justification to deny anyone else’s happiness as long as they labeled it a sin. He granted everybody had a right to their own religious opinion, but when it impinged on someone else’s human rights—especially on a governmental level—he drew the line. No matter how discreetly he might live his professional life, John refused to let anyone push him back into a closet of complete denial.
Kris’ brow furrowed. “So, you’re gonna marry Beth?”
His body already primed with adrenaline, a sly smile broke across his face. “I’m not sure one person alone could keep me in line, you know?”
I’m the kind of guy who needs a wife… and a husband.