Snow drifted across the bright blue sky, transforming the Vermont hills into a picture perfect winter wonderland postcard. Skiers dotted the slopes, racing down or riding up. Even with all the movement, there seemed a hushed expectancy to the air, like everyone was waiting for something special to happen.
Ryan Kellar snorted silently. The only one waiting was him as the hours crawled closer to midnight and one of the biggest moments in his life. New Year's Eve and his wedding.
"Ry, are you all right?"
He turned away from the windows in the dining room to find his parents eyeing him with mild concern. He smiled and nodded. "I'm fine, Mom."
"Not having second thoughts, are you?"
"If I didn't have second thoughts while planning the wedding, Dad, what makes you think I'd have them now?"
His dad shrugged. "Well, your marriage won't be legal in most of the country and the tabloids will go crazy once word gets out about this."
He and Josh had talked about the whole tabloid angle. After everything that had happened to them when they first met, avoiding any publicity should have been foremost in their minds. Yet neither Ryan nor Josh were willing to hide in a closet or act ashamed of loving each other.
"We're hoping no one will spill the beans about what's happening tonight. We only invited friends and family, plus Morgan is providing security. No one without an invitation gets in."
"Good thing we remembered to bring ours."
Ryan laughed as his mom's mouth dropped open. He recognized the voice. Garrett Johnson and CJ Lamont strolled into the room, hand-in-hand. Ryan tapped his mother's shoulder.
"It's not polite to stare." He nudged his dad. "Do you have a napkin for Mom to wipe the drool off her chin?"
She blushed and Garrett winked at her before kissing her cheek.
"Mrs. Kellar, I see where Ryan gets his good looks from."
The pleasure in his mother's eyes made Ryan swallow his snicker. CJ's fond expression told him that the man was used to Garrett's subtle flirting.
"All you actors can't stay away from the beautiful ones, can you?" Ryan's dad joked.
"No, sir. We can't." Garrett focused his gaze on CJ.
CJ blushed as well and Ryan's gut tensed. God, he hoped Josh would look at him forever like Garrett looked at CJ with such longing, love and desire in his eyes.
"Mom, Dad, this is Garrett Johnson and his partner, CJ Lamont." Ryan remembered his manners long enough to introduce his parents to his friends.
"Soon-to-be husband, actually." CJ held up his left hand, showing off a brushed yellow gold band.
Ryan whooped when the pair nodded and Garrett revealed his matching band. He hugged them both tight and waved down a waiter.
"We need a bottle of champagne."
The waiter nodded before heading toward the bar.
Whirling, he spied Josh leaning in the doorway between the lobby and the dining room. He kept his gaze on his fiance as Josh strolled through the room toward him. Josh slipped his arm around Ryan's waist and Ryan relaxed against him.
"Garrett. CJ. Glad you could make it," Josh greeted the men.
"Congratulations. We wouldn't have missed it for the world." CJ slapped Josh's back. "Maybe we'll pick up a few pointers for our wedding."
"Seriously?" Josh grinned. "That's great news. So you're going the wedding route as well, huh?"
Garrett laughed. "Yes, we are. Kasey and Gram are having a commitment ceremony, but we decided we wanted the whole shebang."
"Your brother and his partner are engaged too? It's an epidemic." Josh took the bottle from the waiter while Ryan passed out the glasses.
Josh extracted the cork with a soft pop and managed not to spill a drop of the bubbly liquid. Ryan admired the confident way his lover poured the champagne.
As the others laughed and toasted, Ryan thought back to the night he asked Josh to marry him.