Is this just wedding day nerves for Patrick – or something much more important?
Although he’s nervous on this, his wedding day, Pat is still taking all the stresses and mishaps in stride, until his mother announces that Nicky—his first boyfriend—is at the door. Unexpectedly.
While his mum and sisters fuss around with family crises and preparations, Pat lets his mind wander, remembering how he met Nicky, their growing friendship, and the closeness and love that led to so much more. The fun and sexy passion they shared—and the painful fights.
But why is Nicky here, at the house? And why is Pat so worried about it? As he goes downstairs to face Nicky, his family waits with bated breath to find out whether there’s another disaster looming—or whether Pat and Nicky’s story is something far more romantic.
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“Mum.” Mandy hugs her, and they both turn to look at me. “Pat looks good, right? I knew the bow tie was the right one to choose.”
I tug at it sulkily. “Now I know who to blame. I feel way overdressed.”
Mandy pouts. “Jeez, it’s your special day. You want to go along there on the bike in your leathers?”
I catch the glint in her eye and smirk. “Of course not. Hell, it had never occurred to me. But now you mention it….” I dodge as Mandy throws the towel at me. I’m just glad it wasn’t the damn bucket.
“I never thought….” Mum blushes. She looks a little uncomfortable. “Never thought you’d settle down, Pat. Not like this. It took some time.”
I smile back ruefully. “It hasn’t been plain sailing, right?”
Mandy makes a snorting noise. I ignore her; I’ve had plenty of years’ practice. Instead I cross the room to hug my mother. “I’m sorry, Mum. Sorry for being a mess as a teenager, a smart-arse as a young man, and a pain in everyone’s butt with my love life. Thanks for everything you’ve done—everything you’ve been. I love you so much.”
She accepts the hug with one of those huffing noises she makes when she’s embarrassed. “Hey, you’ve been nothing but trouble. I say that every day,” she jokes. “But I suppose I need the challenge. It’d be no good if all my kids were the same.” I feel her tense up inside my arms.
“I know it was hard,” I say quickly. It wasn’t easy for me either, I want to add, but that would be selfish of me. “It hasn’t been the best life for you, bringing us up on your own, two lively girls and a younger, troublesome son.”
“Pat, don’t be foolish. You’re an adult yourself now. And you were just like any other kid.”
“Not quite.” I’d been temporarily suspended from school a couple of times for fighting and done my fair share of drinking and smoking under age. There were other ways I’d been different from most of my peers, but I’d never dared discuss that over the Sunday roast dinner. More fool, me.
“But that’s how you wanted me to be, wasn’t it, Mum? Do the things other sons do. Follow the normal life plan. School, college, good job, marriage, kids. Same choices as everyone else.”
“Pat.” Mandy’s tone is warning me not to stir things up. Not today.
Mum puts a hand on Mandy’s arm to reassure her, but her eyes never leave mine. “That’s not fair, Pat. I confess, you were a restless child. I didn’t always understand you. You rarely told me what was going on in your head. So, yes, it was hard—you weren’t an easy boy to bring up. But I only ever wanted a good life for you.”
“I know. And you did a good job.” I see her eyes soften. “I am what I am, Mum. But you helped me see the rest of the world around me—to get some perspective. You celebrated the good times with me and kept me on the planet during the bad ones.”
“And now you’ve come through all that.” Her cheeks are flushed, and I wonder if she’s already had a drink, if only to steady her nerves with a house full of family and frenetic organisation. “After all that confusion and rebellion, you’ve found the right way at last. Made the right choices. You’ve made us all proud of you. Haven’t you?”
I glance over at Mandy. She’s picking up the towel, not meeting my gaze for that second. “Yeah, Mum,” I say quietly. “I know the right thing to do.” Mum keeps staring at me. “What?” I protest. “Can you still see the spot on my nose?” But no one laughs. Mum looks at Mandy, and she looks back. Enough with the meaningful gazes, I think. My heart starts to beat faster, but I’m not sure why.
“Didn’t you tell him?” Mum asks Mandy.
“Tell me what?”
Mandy’s still not meeting my eyes. “I thought if I kept him distracted up here—”
“Distracted? Why?” My stomach’s churning again. “Will the pair of you stop talking about me, when I’m right here?”
“I came up to tell you Nicky’s at the door,” Mum says.
My brain isn’t computing the information. “What door?”
Mandy snorts again. It’s a bloody irritating habit of hers.
Mum frowns a little. “Here. At the house.”
“Pat….” Mandy sounds worried.
“He’s here?” I don’t seem able to make any more of a coherent sentence.
“He wants to see you.” Mum is keeping her voice deliberately calm, I can tell.
“He can’t,” Mandy blurts out. There’s a look of panic in her eyes.
“What’s he doing here?” I say, and they both stare at me. My voice was definitely too loud. I turn back to the mirror, startled to see the very real disturbance in my eyes. “What’s he doing here now?”
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