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Subject: Misunderstood, Chapter 34 (Gay Adult/Youth) MISUNDERSTOOD By Wes Leigh This is a work of fiction intended solely for the entertainment of my readers; any resemblance to any real people or places is purely coincidental. This story is the property of the author and is protected by copyright laws. The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author’s consent. If you enjoy this story, please support the Nifty archives today with a thoughtful donation by visiting fty/. Author’s Note: For those of you who read the original Misunderstood series, the following chapters are all new material, written at the express request of readers. This is for you! –WL Chapter Thirty-Four Two years later … Dayna adjusted Blue’s tie for the twentieth time. “Mom,” he moaned, “would you leave it alone?” “I just want you to look perfect, baby,” she replied, moving the tie slightly to the left. “I look fine,” he grunted. “Gray, tell her I look okay.” Gray took a step back and looked Blue over carefully. At the age of 18, Blue now stood almost six feet tall. His broad shoulders filled out the midnight blue suit he wore, perfectly complementing his sea-blue eyes, wavy black hair, and ruby red lips, which were now pursed in an exasperated frown. Gray shook his head slowly from side to side as he examined the young man. “Sorry, champ. I just can’t do that. You don’t look okay.” Blue was puzzled. “Huh?” Gray shrugged. “What can I say? You look amazing. Handsome. Stunning.” Dayna nodded in agreement. “No mother could be more proud than I am right now.” She leaned in and kissed Blue on the cheek. “Ready to go?” Blue grinned. “Let’s do this!” Blue grabbed his keys off the dresser and headed for the door. “Hey, are you sure about that?” Gray asked. Blue held up the keys and jiggled them in the air. “I’m driving. Tonight of all nights, I’m definitely driving.” “It’ll be kind of cramped with all four of us.” “I don’t care!” Blue exclaimed with an evil grin. “You and Dallas can squeeze in the back seat. We’re taking the Coop!” Gray turned to Dayna for help, but she laughed and said, “You’re the one who bought it for him. AND GAVE IT TO HIM EARLY. I told you to wait until AFTER he graduated.” Gray nodded, admitting defeat. “Then let’s go. The less time we have spend crammed inside that sardine can, the better.” They trooped down the stairs. Dallas waited for them at the bottom. “About time. What took you guys so long?” Blue sighed and pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. “Momma had to fix my tie a million times.” Dallas grinned. “Couldn’t she do something about that face?” Blue glared and held up his keys. “Momma’s riding in the front. You and Gray are in the back seat.” Dallas groaned. “We’re taking the mini cooper?” Laughing, Gray replied, “He insisted. We agreed. It’s his night, so what else are we going to do?” “I suppose,” Dallas admitted. “Just take it easy on the bumps, will ya’?” *** As Blue drove them to town, Dallas updated Dayna quickly on how the furniture store had been doing for the last few months. With Dallas managing it, the store was prospering. At only 20 years of age, most people were surprised to learn that he was overseeing such a large and profitable business, but Dayna had complete confidence in him. He understood every part of the operation, and she had hired good people to support him and take care of all the financial aspects he hadn’t learned yet from the business courses he was taking at night. Having Dallas manage the store in Amarillo allowed her to stay in Oklahoma, where she had completed her nurse practitioner degree. She was making plans to open her own office soon in their rural community. It would be a something the medically under-served area desperately needed, as well as a fulfillment of her own dreams. She smiled as she thought about how shocked Alan would be when she told him. He’d never given her credit for being anything more than a trophy wife. He’d expected her to stay by his side, dutifully running the home, attending luncheons with Amarillo’s movers and shakers, smiling and raising their son to Alan’s high standards. Well, despite Alan’s interference, Andrew had grown up to be an impressive young man, handsome, well-spoken, intelligent, and loving. She glanced over at Andrew as he drove. She was so very proud of him. He’d worked hard on his schoolwork for the last two years, making up for the time he’d lost living on the streets. He hadn’t taken a break, working through summers and vacations, so he’d managed to catch up and pass his homeschooled peers, and now he was graduating with honors and considering scholarships from several Oklahoma colleges. Of course, Gray had been the driving force behind it all. At first, she wasn’t certain it would work out. Having your lover as your teacher was a formula for disaster, in her opinion. But somehow, the two of them had worked it out. They’d had some massive fights every now and then, but they’d always kissed and made up and gone back to work. She stifled a chuckle. Those two. So in love, and so fiery and passionate too. No one could deny that they belonged together. They were a perfect match, and she was grateful Andrew had found Gray and that the two of them had fallen so deeply in love. That was one thing she hadn’t convinced Alan to accept yet, but she planned to keep working on it. After all, he still had another 5 years in Federal prison to think about it. That should give her enough time to penetrate his thick skull and convince him that their gay son was happy and successful and worthy of his love. She looked down at her lap and sighed. It hadn’t helped any that Cameron Schaeffer was housed at the same facility. Seeing him only reminded Alan of his past mistakes, and the two of them had had to be forcibly separated when they got in a fistfight a few months ago. Fortunately, the prison officials moved Cameron to another part of the facility, and now they wouldn’t have a chance to even see each other again. Maybe now she’d begin making progress with her husband. He’d actually complimented her at the last visit when she told him how well Dallas was managing the store. Alan didn’t seem to hold any grudges against Dallas, and he’d mentioned that he’d often thought about promoting the young man to assistant manager. Five more years. What would she do when Alan was released from prison? She had plenty of time to think about that. Perhaps she’d hire him to work in the warehouse at the store. Dallas could send him out on deliveries. She laughed out loud, drawing Andrew’s attention. “What are you laughing about, Momma?” he asked. “Nothing, dear. Ignore me. I’m just very happy right now.” “So am I, Momma. So am I.” *** They pulled into the high school parking lot and scrambled out of the mini cooper. Dayna took Blue’s arm and said, “Andrew, I’ve been keeping a secret from you. Sort of a special graduation gift, I guess you could call it.” Blue’s eyes lit up. “Really? What is it?” Dayna looked over her shoulder first. Yes, there he was, the special guest she’d invited to Blue’s graduation, waiting by the main entrance as she had asked. She wrapped her arm around Blue’s elbow and led him forward. “You remember when I did my internship in Tulsa last month?” “At Saint Francis Hospital. Yeah, I remember.” “Well, baby, while I was there, a very peculiar coincidence occurred. You see, a young man showed up one day, to thank all the nurses and doctors who’d helped him out years ago. They had treated him for a rather serious disease, helped him get better, and then encouraged him to follow his dream to join the Air Force. That young man wanted to thank them for all they’d done, but he also asked them if they’d run into a friend of his, someone he called Blue, although he knew that wasn’t the young man’s real name. He said the young man’s first name was Andrew, but he didn’t know the last name.” Blue started breathing hard. “What? That’s crazy, Momma.” She nodded. “I was astonished when I heard his story. I stopped him and told him my son was named Andrew, but he went by the nickname Blue. It was far too amazing for it to be a mere coincidence, don’t you think?” Blue was beginning to shake with nervous energy. “What happened next?” “We went down to the hospital cafeteria and talked for hours. He filled me in on his life and I told him about where you were and what you were doing.” Blue stopped her and demanded, “What was his name, Momma? Did you get his name?” She nodded and smiled. “He said he was Captain Ngo Johnson.” Then she gestured toward the entrance. Blue turned to see a tall, young man with delicate Asian features, neatly turned out in an aviator’s flight suit with a huge smile on his face. Blue batman escort whispered, “Wings?” Then he gasped and ran forward to wrap the other young man in his arms. The two hugged and began weeping as they rocked each other from side to side. Blue pulled back and pointed at the pilot’s wings pinned to Wings’ breast pocket. “Your dad’s?” he asked. Wings shook his head no. “Those are mine,” he replied, with a grin. Blue shouted, “Hell, yeah!” and began hugging Wings again, thumping his long, lost friend on the back. Gray stepped forward and stood next to Dayna. “I think we surprised him.” She nodded and dabbed her eyes. “Yes, I think you’re right.” Dallas leaned over and asked, “Who’s that?” Gray answered, “A friend of Blue’s. He goes by the name Wings. They met on the streets of Fort Worth, and Wings took care of Blue for several months. They lost track of each other when Wings had to go to Oklahoma for medical treatment.” “They seem … friendly,” Dallas said, nervously. Gray smiled. “They were very good friends, and I’m sure they’ll be friends for life.” He turned to Dallas. “Just like you and Blue will be friends for life.” “And you don’t feel threatened by that?” Dallas asked. “No,” Gray replied. “Blue’s friendships don’t scare me. I know what I mean to him, and I’m not afraid to let him love others and be loved, as long as it’s just my bed that he shares.” Dallas nodded and wrapped his arm around Gray’s neck. “You know he’s devoted to you and to you only? It’s been that way for years now.” “I know,” Gray replied. “And that’s why I’m not afraid of his friendships with others.” Dallas smiled. “Isn’t it about time you guys took the next big step?” Gray simply grinned. “You’ll know soon enough.” *** At the celebratory dinner later that night, Jessica Dominguez tried to ask the same question, but Gray shut her down just as quickly. “That’s none of your business, Jess.” She playfully pinched Gray’s cheek. “Everything you do is my business. I thought we’d established that already.” “This. Isn’t.” Gray said, firmly, taking a sip of his tea. She huffed and turned to Dayna Wright. “Has he said anything about … you know?” Dayna looked at Gray, then glanced back at Jessica. Dayna was amused by the flamboyant young woman whom Gray had introduced to everyone as his very best friend and sometimes enemy from college. The two of them had been making everyone at the Blue’s graduation dinner weep with laughter from time to time, and now Gray seemed to be tormenting Jess about something. Dayna asked, “What are you talking about, sweetie?” Jessica rolled her eyes. “The … you know!” Dayna shook her head. “Sorry. I don’t know, whatever it is, so I can’t help you.” Jessica punched Gray in the arm and stood up, pulling him to his feet. “Come with me! Right now!” Everyone laughed as she practically dragged Gray out of the banquet room and into the hall. She squinted at Gray and demanded, “Are you going to ask him or not? And if you are, when?” He leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. “I’m not saying, Jess. That is between Blue and me.” She sighed, “But–” He grinned mischievously and said, “There is only one thing you need to do, Jess. Decide whether you want to be the best man or the maid of honor.” She squealed and grabbed him around the neck, kissing Gray on the cheek. Then she forced herself to calm down and looked up at Gray. “Does he know yet?” He shook his head. “No. But he probably suspects.” She squealed again and made a motion of zipping her lips shut. “Not saying a word,” she promised. And for the rest of the meal, she did a decent job of concealing her elation. Blue didn’t notice anything at all, she hoped. He seemed to be caught up in the excitement of the night, enjoying the company of so many friends, especially the handsome Air Force pilot. Now that guy would be a good catch, Jessica thought, although her intuition was beginning to make her think he might be gay. Blue was also blown away by the graduation gifts he’d received, especially the new laptop from his mother for use when he went off to college, so Jessica didn’t think he noticed the sly glances Jessica kept sending his way. He was a cute one, this Blue Wright was. Ah, who the hell was she kidding? The kid was delicious! A real dream! Gray was one lucky guy, but then so was Blue. She saw the way the two of them looked at each other. Hell, anyone with eyes could see it. They were so hopelessly in love, it made her want to break down and start crying. And then after she finished crying, it made her want to beat the living snot out of Gray. How long had she tried to fix him up? How many dates had she begged him to go on? And he goes off and finds his true love on his own! What nerve! But she was happy for them. She’d have to do some digging when she got back to Tulsa. Find out what happened to Gray’s old roommate, Tony Russo. She’d heard something about Tony falling in love and marrying some jock from Dallas. Tony would probably want to know that Gray was now head over heels in love and headed for the wedding chapel. Soon, if she was any judge of such things. Everyone was laughing as Blue held up the beer steins Dallas had given him as a present. “For those wild college parties,” Dallas shouted over the laughter. Blue set them on the table and walked over to hug Dallas. “Thanks, dude!” “You’re welcome, bro. We can test those out later tonight, if you want!” The room filled with laughter again. Jessica sniffed and wiped away a tear. She couldn’t decide which she wanted more, to be the best man or maid of honor. *** Festivities had finally concluded for the night. Everyone had gone home. Wings was spending the night at the farm, in the empty bedroom on the second floor. Dallas, of course, was in the room he’d claimed as his home-away-from-home, the other second floor bedroom. Dallas offered to show Wings the layout of the place, which Gray gladly accepted, because he had one more thing he wanted to do before calling it a night. Blue saw how Wings and Dallas interacted with one another, and he had to smile. Those two seemed to be getting along very, very well. What are the odds, he wondered? He felt a hand take his own, and he turned and smiled at Gray. “Tired?” Gray asked. Blue nodded. “Yes, but it’s been an incredible evening.” “Too tired to go for a moonlight walk?” “Never,” Blue replied. Gray smiled and led the way outside, followed as always by the dogs. Amber and King, Crash and Junior, their constant companions and escorts. They all strolled down the hill from the house and walked around the barn to the lake. The water shimmered in the moonlight, rippling from the ducks that swam slowly around the piers of the dock. Gray and Blue held hands as they wandered down onto the dock and out to the end. As they had so many times before, they sat on the edge of the dock and stared out over the waters. Saying nothing. Simply enjoying each other’s company. “It was an awesome night, my dude,” Blue whispered. “Thank you for everything.” Gray nodded. “You’re welcome, champ. I was so proud of you. Your commencement speech was beautiful.” Blue chuckled. “It wasn’t too mushy?” “No. But you did make some of the parents cry.” “I did?” “Yeah, when you got to the part about how the graduates weren’t the only ones who should be standing on the stage. Because there were others who deserved to be recognized for all their hard work too.” Blue turned his head and kissed Gray on the cheek. “I meant every word of it.” “I know. And I appreciated every word of it.” Blue turned to look back out over the lake. “I’ve decided where I want to go,” Blue said. “Oh?” “Yeah, U of Tulsa. It’s the only choice, really.” “It’s a good school.” “Yep, and it’s only an hour away. I can come home every weekend.” Gray smiled. “If that’s what you want to do.” Blue snorted. “And that ain’t what you want, too?” Snickering, Gray bumped shoulders with Blue and replied, “It might be.” Blue stopped laughing and said, “I love you, my dude.” Gray turned to face Blue and whispered, “I love you too, champ, with all my heart.” He paused, and reached into his pocket, pulling out a small, wrapped present. “There’s one more graduation gift I want to give you.” Blue took it. It wasn’t large at all. Only a tiny little box. “Why didn’t you give it to me at the dinner?” “Just open it,” Gray said, encouragingly. Blue pulled off the wrapping paper and opened the box. Inside, he found an onyx ring with silver engravings running throughout. He lifted it out of the box and held it up in the moonlight. There was faint writing along the inside of the band. He turned it slightly and read the words. Cherished Misfit. Tears filled his eyes as he looked at Gray. bayburt escort Gray nodded and whispered, “Andrew Gabriel Wright, will you marry me?” Blue gasped and began crying. He pulled Gray into a hug and sobbed, “Grayson Alexander Langston, yes, I will marry you.” Gray pulled away and took Blue’s hand in his own. Both of them were shaking when he slid the ring onto Blue’s finger. Then they kissed. “Where’s yours?” Blue asked. Gray grinned and reached into his shirt pocket, pulling out a second ring, much like Blue’s, in onyx with silver engraving. Blue took it and held it up in the moonlight. Words were engraved on the inside of this ring also. Misunderstood No More. He took Gray’s hand and slid the ring onto Gray’s finger, leaning in to kiss at the same time. On the dock behind them, the dogs watched. Amber huffed, then lifted her nose and began howling at the moon, a deep bass bellow. The other dogs joined in, adding their trembling treble wails to Amber’s. Inside the barn, the kenneled dogs heard and joined in. Soon the evening sky was filled with the impromptu chorus. Blue and Gray watched, amused, as their canine friends serenaded them. One by one, they stopped howling and lowered their eyes to stare at their beloved humans. When the last howl echoed away into the night, the two young lovers stood and walked slowly back to the farmhouse, holding hands and quietly discussing plans for a late-summer wedding. Without question, there was only one place to hold the ceremony: underneath the spreading oak trees of Langston Farm, Home for Misunderstood Dogs and Misfit Boys. *** Three months later … Dallas and Blue stood facing one another, making final adjustments to each other’s bow ties. Chuckling, they turned to Dayna Wright and wiggled their eyebrows at her. “What’d’ya think, Momma?” Blue asked. Dayna’s lips quivered slightly. “You boys look stunning.” The black tuxedo fit Blue perfectly, from the black bow tie to the dark navy cummerbund. Silver cuff links glimmered in his sleeves. The pants were creased perfectly, accentuating Blue’s long legs. Even the black cowboy boots, polished to a dazzling sheen, looked good on him. His tall, lean body had filled out in the last few months, putting on muscle mass thanks to Dallas’ guidance in the gym each week. Dallas was taller and broader, especially in the chest. His muscular body filled his dark gray tux to perfection, a chiseled hunk of a man. Dallas glanced over at Blue, smirked and said, “Stunning, huh? Well, the runt is cute enough, I guess. He’d be cuter as a red-head, but we can’t all be that lucky.” Blue snorted and punched Dallas in the chest. “No thank you. You can keep your red hair.” Dallas frowned. “You mean you aren’t jealous of my auburn locks and amazing green eyes?” “Nope. Sure ain’t,” Blue replied with a grin. “Then you can find a new best man. I quit.” Dallas threw himself down onto a nearby chair, pouting. Dayna laughed and shook her head. “You two behave. I’ll go check to see if they’re ready for us yet.” She flicked a microscopic piece of lint off Blue’s lapel and leaned in to kiss his cheek. “Be right back.” As Dayna left the room, Blue turned back to face the full length mirror hanging on the wall. What would Gray think when he saw Blue in a few minutes? Blue’s hands began shaking slightly from nerves. Behind him in the mirror, he saw Dallas stand up and walk forward, placing his powerful arms around Blue in a loose hug. Dallas squeezed Blue gently and whispered, “He’s going to fall in love with you all over again when he sees you today. You’re more than stunning, Drew. You’re fucking gorgeous! Amazing and adorable! Gray is the luckiest fucking dude on the planet.” Blue sobbed and placed his hands on top of Dallas’ arms. “Thanks, dude! But I’m the lucky one.” Dallas released Blue and handed him a tissue. “Here you go, bro.” Blue took the tissue and blew his nose, then wiped his eyes, silently communicating his gratitude to his best friend and best man. Turning back to look at the mirror, Blue repeated, “No, I’m the lucky one.” *** Downstairs, in the library, Gray was struggling with his own tie. “What’s wrong, son?” Richard Langston asked. Gray sighed and tried again. “Never did learn how to tie one of these things. I can handle a regular tie. Single Windsor. Double Windsor. You name the knot and I’ll tie it, but these bow ties are impossible to figure out.” Richard laughed softly and stepped forward to take the tie away from Gray. “It works like this. Take this through here. Then over and inside like this. Now hold your finger here. And pull it tight, but not too tight. All done.” Richard stepped back. “That work?” Gray looked in the mirror and smiled. “Thanks, Dad. Perfect.” Richard turned to Carol. “What do you think, dear? Should we allow him out in public, looking like this?” Carol Langston stood up and walked forward. She placed one hand casually on Gray’s shoulder. His tuxedo, like Blue’s, was black, but with a silver cummerbund. “You look so handsome. Especially now that your father has taken care of that bow tie. There’s only thing I’m still unsure about.” “What, mom? What is it?” “The boots. Seriously, Gray. Cowboy boots?” She laughed softly to show she was joking. Gray shrugged. “They were Blue’s idea. He insisted. Said he was from Texas and we weren’t that far away here in Oklahoma, so we had to wear the boots.” From the door, they heard a voice say, “I like `em.” They all turned to see who it was. Jessica Dominguez stood in the doorway, one hand propped on the frame, one leg cocked out in front. Her dark blue dress parted at the knee, displaying her tanned calf where it disappeared into a black cowboy boot. She turned her leg from side to side, examining her foot. “A sexy girl in cowboy boots … might even catch me a guy, lookin’ like this. What do you think?” Gray laughed and walked over, taking Jess in his arms. “I think you look fabulous, as usual.” “Of course, I do. Almost as fabulous as you, stud muffin.” Gray kissed Jess on the cheek. “Thanks for doing this, sweet cheeks.” “Like you could have stopped me!” She threw her arms around Gray’s neck. “I’ve been waiting seven years for this moment. Armed thugs couldn’t’ve kept me away.” She pushed Gray back and held up a black felt Stetson hat. “And just so you know, I’m not wearing the hat.” Gray chuckled. “You’ll piss off Blue.” She shrugged. “I don’t care. I spent eighty dollars on my hair. I’m not covering it up with a stupid Stetson.” Carol laughed. “I’ve seen Blue angry. You might regret that, Jess.” Richard nodded. “His wrath can be epic. And the hats do match the boots,” he added with a chuckle. Jessica sighed. “Fine. I’ll wear the frickin’ hat.” She put it on her head at a slight angle. “I better catch TWO cowboys now.” *** Reverend James Donohue glanced at his notes one more time. This was certainly going to be one of the most unusual weddings he’d ever presided over. When Andrew Wright had contacted him, James had been thrilled and honored. It had been a case of coming full circle. After so many years, it had been wonderful to reconnect with Andrew and learn that the boy who’d been so horribly abused at the Retreat had somehow made it in life and was now asking to be wedded to the love of his life. It hadn’t surprised James at all to learn that Andrew was marrying another man. What had surprised him was that Andrew remembered James and didn’t hate him for the role he’d played at the Retreat. Rather, Andrew recalled James with fondness as the only friend he’d had in that wretched place. It had been Andrew’s suffering there had convinced James to leave. Not just the Retreat, but the Catholic church as well. He still loved the Church and missed so much about it, but he was happy now, ordained in the Lutheran church, married, and leading a congregation in Austin, Texas. He chuckled to himself. And now he was standing here in rural Oklahoma, under an arbor filled with white roses next to a lake complete with swimming ducks and swans, waiting with all the people joined together this day to celebrate the union of two souls in matrimony. Life certainly surprised you sometimes. James saw the doors on the old farmhouse open and the wedding party step outside. He turned to his wife, his beautiful Ann, and nodded. She touched the keyboard and began playing the wedding march. The guests stood and turned to look toward the house. Gray and Blue led the way, followed by Dallas and Jess, then Dayna, Richard, and Carol. The two young men did indeed look stunning in their matching black tuxedos, black Stetsons, and shining black boots. Only the cummerbunds were different. Gray’s silver cummerbund matched his eyes, making bebek escort them shine with the tears he could barely contain. Blue’s navy cummerbund made his eyes seem even deeper and more intense. Behind them, Jess was striking in her dark blue dress, her long tanned legs flashing momentarily with each step she took. She held Dallas’ arm, smiling up at the muscular man beside her. Too bad he was gay. He was one incredible specimen of manhood. Whatever. She’d still dance with him later. A sudden commotion from the side of the house caught everyone’s eye. A thin man in a military dress uniform ran around the corner of the house, stopping suddenly when he realized he was interrupting. Blue’s eyes lit up. “Wings!” he shouted. “You made it.” Wings shrugged with embarrassment. “Sorry, I’m late. Drove all night to get here.” Blue grabbed Wings up in a tight hug and then pulled him next to Dallas. “That don’t matter, dude. You’re here and you’re in the wedding party now. Stand next to Dallas, okay?” “What?” Wings was confused. “Won’t that mess things up?” “Hell, no! I mean … heck, no … just do it, dude. We want you in the wedding, too.” Wings looked at Gray, seeking support. Gray shrugged. “You’re a part of our lives, too, Wings. Just go with it. Blue usually gets what he wants.” Wings nodded. “Yeah. I know what you mean.” Wings moved over next to Dallas. Dallas offered his other elbow with a cheeky grin, which made Wings chuckle and bump shoulders with him. Finally, with the last minute addition in place, the wedding party started walking again. Some of the guests giggled, but they’d learned to expect Blue’s antics over the years, and this was not at all unusual. Marching slowly forward, Gray and Blue stopped in front of Reverend James. Jess moved to Gray’s side. Dallas and Wings stood next to Blue. Their parents stood in the aisle, waiting. Reverend James smiled and began. “Welcome, friends and family. We are gathered here today to celebrate a most joyous celebration, in honor of Grayson Alexander Langston and Andrew Gabriel Wright, better known to all of you as Gray and Blue.” Reverend James paused, giving the audience time to laugh, before continuing, “In keeping with tradition, I ask who is here today for Gray?” Richard Langston spoke up. “His mother and I. We’re happy to have him leave our family and start his own.” Carol Langston nodded. “A mother never wants to give up her son, but it’s my joy to do that today, because I’ll be gaining another son, who I love just as much.” Blue smiled and whispered, “I love you, too.” Reverend James nodded. “And who stands today for Blue?” Dayna Wright replied, “I do. His mother. I’m so happy for you both.” She bit her lips and began crying softly, unable to hold back the tears any longer. “Then let us begin,” Reverend James said, motioning for the parents to take their seats. Gray and Blue turned to face Reverend James, each of them wiping tears from their eyes. “Many times, when conducting a wedding, I’ve seen the bride and groom struggling with a desire to make the ceremony–excuse me for saying this–all about them. And don’t get me wrong, this is a celebration for Gray and Blue, but it’s also a celebration for each of you, who have come here today to be with these fine, young men. You may be thinking that this is a strange way to begin a wedding ceremony. Let me tell you why I’ve started this way. It is because Gray and Blue asked for it. They asked me to make it clear that this is a special day for them, but it is all the more special because of all of you. “For years now, marriage between two men has been legal in Oklahoma, but that doesn’t mean it has been accepted. Some still feel that marriage is an institution designed for a man and a woman, and that two men should not be able to hold the same ceremony and call it by the same name. I am certain that none of you feel that way, or you wouldn’t be here. But Gray and Blue are both aware of how others feel, and they want to share a few words with you before we start. Gentlemen …” Gray and Blue turned together, holding hands, and faced their guests. Gray looked down, gulped, and looked back up to face the encouraging smiles. He took a deep breath and began, “For so many years, I was alone. Struggling to accept who I was. Lonely, with only my four Pitbulls for company.” Sympathetic chuckles interrupted him. They all knew about Gray and his dogs. Gray smiled and continued. “They loved me unconditionally, but I needed more. Then one rainy night, a soggy kid landed on my doorstep. He was freezing cold and needed my help. What I didn’t know was that I needed him even more.” Blue nodded. “That’s true. He needed me and didn’t have a clue.” More laughter from the guests. “And I showed him what it means to be loved, truly loved by someone else. But I gotta tell y’all somethin’. I found out what it means to be loved, too, really loved. And that was somethin’ I needed awful bad.” Gray chuckled. “It’s funny now, looking back on how we met, because we didn’t realize we belonged together at first. We struggled and argued and had epic fights.” “I always won,” Blue said with a smirk. “Except when I won,” Gray added, smiling. Blue laughed and said, “Only when I let him win.” Their guests were laughing out loud now, wiping tears from their eyes. Gray stopped smiling and said, “But even our fights were good for us, because we learned to forgive and to make up. We learned to communicate and to be honest. All the struggles we experienced taught us that love is something to be cherished when you find it, no matter where you find it, cherished and nurtured until it becomes the first and best part of your life.” Blue nodded. “And when you find the one who means everything to you, you want it to last forever. That’s where all of y’all come in. We want to do this with you as our witnesses. Yeah, we’re makin’ it clear to everyone right now that we want to be together for the rest of our lives.” “Not as boyfriends,” Gray added. “But as two men who are devoted to one another, joined as one. We ask your blessing on this union. We ask you to pray for us to have a strong marriage. We ask you to hold us accountable for lifting each other up, encouraging each other, and loving each other for the rest of our lives.” “That’s the main reason we’re doin’ this today,” Blue said. “We want all of y’all to stand behind us.” Reverend James spoke up. “You may have come here today, expecting to sit and watch a ceremony, never guessing you’d be asked to participate in any way. But those of you who know these two very special young men probably should have anticipated something like this.” Scattered laughter and whispered comments resulted. Reverend James smiled. “Then allow me to ask … if you agree with the request Gray and Blue have just expressed … if you will bless this union, praying for these young men, holding them accountable as you encourage them to love one another … if you will do all that, please rise and stand to your feet now.” Without exception, everyone stood up, many wiping away tears of joy. “Gray and Blue, you see before you loved ones, family and friends, all standing in agreement that they will support you in marriage to one another. Obviously, they love you and expect you to love each other from this point forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Gray and Blue, please turn and face me. And everyone else please be seated.” Reverend James continued, “You have both expressed your belief in God and your desire to be married in His Holy presence. You have also shared with me your firm belief that God brought you into each other’s lives. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one attempt to separate. May I have the rings?” Dallas and Jess stepped forward, handing the rings to Reverend James. “Grayson Alexander Langston, do you take Andrew Gabriel Wright to be your lawfully wedded husband, forsaking all others, as long as you both shall live?” Gray, with tears falling down his face, replied, “I do.” Reverend James handed Gray a ring, motioning for Gray to slide it on Blue’s finger. “Andrew Gabriel Wright, do you take Grayson Alexander Langston to be your lawfully wedded husband, forsaking all others, as long as you both shall live?” Blue nodded, sobbing. “I sure do.” He took the other ring and slid it on Gray’s finger. Reverend James lifted his hands. “By the power vested in me, I proclaim you joined in the sacred union of marriage.” Clapping rang out as Gray and Blue leaned together, kissing each other. Then they turned and smiled at their guests, expressing their love and gratitude for them all. Dallas shouted, “Yahoo!” Then he took off his Stetson and threw it into the air as high as he could. Grabbing Blue’s hat, he did the same, throwing it out over the guests. Jessica followed suit, throwing her own hat and Gray’s, laughing when he tried to stop her, but was a half-second too slow. The end of MISUNDERSTOOD, Chapter Thirty-Four

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