GENRE: Gay / Transgender Romance
LENGTH: 40,548 words
It's the summer break, and for the first time in his life, Mike would rather stay in the bloody classroom.
It's wedding season, and Mike is doomed to spend all summer sipping cheap champagne and pretending he likes tiny portions of posh food. From the passive-aggressive torment of Mike's mother-in-law to the insulting incredulity of his colleagues over what his mysterious husband actually looks like, Mike would voluntarily teach sex education to fourteen-year-olds for the rest of his life if it would only get him out of one more wedding. Even his husband in a kilt isn't going to save this one.
But there's nothing like watching someone else get hitched to remind him of where he's come from ... and where he's determined to go from here.
“Everything okay?” Mike murmured.
“In a minute.”
That ... didn't sound good.
But that had Mike distracted. Stephen was tense in his arm, and didn't seem to be listening to Tara's story of how Vikki and Suze met on her own hen night. He was staring off into the distance, and Mike found himself missing most of the story too. Last time the clinic treatment had failed, Stephen had bought a crate of beer and gotten absolutely hammered. Mike mentally brushed off the credit card, and pushed the champagne flute away. He could drive home, tonight. Let Stephen do whatever he needed to do.
And then, once the dust had settled, Mike could put his foot down. No more. This was taking too much out of the pair of them.
The reception party was being held in the B&B's conservatory, a little disco spilling out onto the lawn, and as the wedding party were gathered up and shepherded indoors, Stephen's hand slid into Mike's and pulled. And as it was frankly embarrassing to watch Stephen try and drag him anywhere, Mike capitulated and followed him to the two willows that bracketed the end of the driveway, far out of earshot of everybody else -- and when Stephen ducked around the huge trunks, out of sight, too.
Stephen licked his lips, and Mike sighed.
“No more,” he said.
“What?” Stephen asked.
“No more tries. This is taking too much out of both of us.”
Stephen took a deep breath, and shook his head.
Stephen's phone. Locked. Mike rolled his eyes, and handed it back.
“Oh, like you don't have the code ...”
Stephen's voice was reed-thin, and Mike hauled on his good humour. Crying at a wedding, in his opinion, was reserved solely for those getting married. And only then if they absolutely had to.
“I don't. Respect your privacy, me. Never touch it, don't know how.”
“Bollocks you don't. Just magically managed to text Beth that she picked her bridesmaids perfectly to make her look more beautiful, did it?”
“Yes,” Mike said peaceably. “And you changed the code after that anyway.”
The unlocked phone was shoved back into his hand, delivered with one of those patented long-suffering eye rolls.
“Mind out of the gutter, please.”
And yet Stephen was red-eyed. Mike hesitated.
“The clinic called.”
“I figured. Look, if you want to go h --”
“Just look at the photos, please.”
Mike bit his lip, then did as he was told. He didn't need proof. But what now? Stephen had been a mess last time, but it was Vikki's wedding. They couldn't very well duck out of Vikki's wedding.
Then the photo loaded, and Mike's brain screeched to a halt.
“Oh my God,” he breathed.