“What are you mmm-?” Apollo felt Ethan’s mouth on his.
“It’s our wedding day!” He exclaimed. “I’m really excited.”
“That’s why you needed to barge in on me while I’m in the bathroom?” Apollo groaned. “Get out!”
“Is that any way to treat your future husband?” Ethan whined.
“Go and get dressed, we only have an hour until we have to drive over to the park,” Apollo said.
“I can’t wait to see you in a suit,” Ethan smirked. “I’m gonna go and check on the kids. I think they’re still sleeping.”
“It’s 11am,” Apollo sighed. “We seriously need to set a bedtime for them.”
“Kids will be kids,” Ethan called out as he left the bathroom.
“Mmm, are those waffles?” Ken yawned, sliding into a seat by the counter.
“Well look who decided to wake up!” Ethan put whip cream and sugar on the waffles.
“I was having fun, Ryder was telling me some amazing stories, I just couldn’t sleep after hearing them!” Ken exclaimed. He was practically drooling. “Please give me some of those waffles.”
“I’ll give you some waffles, but you need to answer some questions.” Ethan held the above Ken’s reach.
Ken groaned. “What?”
“Ryder, he’s your imaginary friend?” Ethan asked.
“Why do people keep calling him imaginary? It’s not my fault that you guys can’t see him.” Ken wiped his eyes and laid his head on the table. He was still very much asleep. “Can I have some waffles now?”
“One more question,” Ethan said.
“Come on, you said only one question!” Ken whined. “I’m so hungry.”
“These waffles have chocolate chips baked right in. They smell so yummy,” Ethan sang. “I might just have to eat them myself.”
“No!” Ken jumped from his seat. “I’ll answer anything! Just don’t eat those delicious waffles!”
“You say that Ryder is real, so how do you see him? Is it through that doll that you carry around with you?” Ethan asked.
“Mhmm,” Ken nodded. “He turns back into a doll when I go to sleep or if I tell him too. Now can I have some waffles?”
“All yours.” Ethan slid the plate in front of the pink haired boy. Something was bothering him about those dolls. Did Apollo understand the instability of imaginary friends? It would have to be discussed after the wedding.
After breakfast, the children were all loaded up into the car. Lynette let them use the police cruiser for the day. It would be their “limo.” The kids were ecstatic to be sitting in the back of a police vehicle. It was exciting.
“This is awesome!” Ken pumped his fist into the air.
“Mom, Scarlett is sitting on my dress,” Bailey whined.
“I’m sorry, there’s just no room,” Scarlett said.
“The struggle of having a big family,” Lynette sighed, hitting her head on the seat in front of her. It was going to be a long day.
The place was set up beautifully. There were balloons, flowers, cotton candy, music. It felt like a mini carnival, just for them. The best part was that everyone he cared about was there.
“You like it huh?” Ambrose smirked. “You’re welcome.”
“You did all this?” Apollo asked in disbelief.
“Nah, Kiwi did. He wants to be an interior designer. He’s really creative when he”s not being a pain in the ass,” Ambrose chuckled.
“I need to thank him, this is amazing!”
“Hey, live it up. You only marry the one once. I’m going to talk to Tasha, see how college is. Last I talked to her, Aunt Daisy was bugging her about med school.”
“Go, have fun.” Apollo shooed his brother off.
“Apollo!” The boy looked around, he had known that voice. Where was it coming from?
“It’s been a while, you look great!” It was Katherine. She pulled him into a hug.
“Uh, hi,” He hugged her awkwardly. “How are you?”
“I’ve been great actually. I hope you don’t mind that I’m here. I don’t really deserve to be here, but Lynette told me to stop by. I guess I can see why you hated when I threw myself at you. I’ve done a lot of soul searching, because I feel so terrible about it all. That guy over there, I can tell that he’s the one you’re marrying. He’s smiling and laughing, he just looks so happy. It’s what I wanted so bad, and I thought you’d be able to give that to me, but I was in my own little world. What I’m trying to say is I’m sorry, and I’m really happy that you’ve found the perfect guy Apollo.”
“Thank you,” Apollo said softly. “It’s good to get some closure. I had been awful to you growing up. I treated you like one of the boys and when you wanted to be one of the girls, I panicked and freaked out. I just don’t like when things change. I can’t handle it. I didn’t have a steady life growing up and it’s just impacted me this way.”
“We’re adults now. We can’t let our pasts define us forever. We need to make our futures, that’s what counts.” She smiled brightly. “By the way, I’ve been in touch with Tommy. We video chat every weekend. He seems to be doing well in Twinbrook. He sends his best wishes to you. Funny how life works out.”
Apollo hugged Katherine, this time with a sense of calmness. It was reassuring to know both she and Tommy had been doing well. He had his life together and everyone he cared about did too. FInally, life was beginning to make sense.
“Will the couple gather by the wedding arch?” The proprietor called out. “It is time for the ceremony!”
Apollo and Ethan stood under the arch, gazing at each other. “Are you crying?” Apollo reached over and wiped a stray tear from Ethan’s eye.
“Sorry, I’m just happy,” Ethan choked out.
“Don’t apologize,” Apollo said softly. “I like this side of you.”
“Does anyone have a reason why these two should not be wed?” All were silent. “Apollo Gray, do you take Ethan Nair as your lawfully wedded husband, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”
Apollo nodded. “I do.”
“Ethan Nair, do you take Apollo Gray as your lawfully wedded husband, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death do you part?”
“Without a question, I do.”
“I now pronounce you Mr. and Mr.” He looked over to Apollo and Ethan.
“Gray. Mr. and Mr. Gray.” Ethan smiled brightly. “There isn’t any other family that I’d rather be a part of.”
“I now pronounce you Mr. and Mr. Gray.”
“Can we kiss already?” Ethan smirked pulling Apollo in for their first kiss as husband and husband. “I love you Mr. Gray.”
“I love you too, Mr. Gray.”
The fun had just begun after the rings were exchanged. Scarlett took to the skating rink. She was pretty good, only falling a few times.
“Skate with me, Daddy,” Scarlett called over.
Apollo turned to the person he had been talking to and politely excused himself. He headed towards the rink and towards Scarlett. “I don’t really know how to skate.”
“Look, I’m pretty good. Just hold my hand, dad.” Scarlett took his hand in hers and squeezed it tightly. “Let me know if you need me to slow down.”
Apollo chuckled. “Alright sweetheart. Can we start off slow? I don’t want to fall over when we make the turns.”
Scarlett led her dad around the court three times before someone had to pull him away to congratulate him. Scarlett sighed as she leaned against the railing. She hoped her daddy would still have time for her now that he was married.
“What do you think of the family?” Ken asked. He had Ryder set up on his lap. There was no response. Ken laid his head on the doll. “I wish you would show yourself when others are around. You’re so much fun, everyone would just love you.” There was still no answer. “Ughh, I hate this!” Ken stomped his foot.
“Hey Ken, why are you sitting here all by yourself?” Tasha asked, kneeling by his side.
“I’m trying to get Ryder to talk but he just won’t come out if we’re not in the house,” He sighed frustratedly.
“He’s a doll sweetie.” She tried to reason with him.
Ambrose shot her a glare. “Maybe he’s just shy?” Ambrose suggested. “Right Tasha?” He took his cousin by the arm.
“Yeah, he’s probably just not used to this many people.” She rolled her eyes.
“We’re going to get a drink, do you want anything?” Ambrose asked.
“No,” Ken let out a deflated sigh.
Ambrose waited until they were a few feet away from Ken before confronting Tasha. “What was that?”
“What?” She asked. “I was just giving him a reality check. It’s a doll.”
“He’s a child, let him use his imagination. It’s a powerful thing. You never had an imaginary friend? It’s just a phase, he’ll grow out of it.”
“You had an imaginary friend?” She snickered.
“Whatever, come on.” Ambrose rolled his eyes.
Bailey shot daggers at her siblings. Ken was being so childish bringing his doll out into the public. Her friend, Amelia, was a princess. She would stay indoors where it was safe, not out here in the open. Amelia would never lower herself to hanging out with people other than Bailey herself. Scarlett was having the time of her life, now skating with Ethan. Who did this guy think he was? Step dads were so not stylish. She didn’t need a step dad or siblings. All she needed was her dad, her mom and Amelia.
“Hey Sweetheart, there you are. I’ve been looking for you.” Lynette came up behind her and wrapped her arms over her torso. With her was a taller gentleman.
“Who’s this?” She lowered her eyes.
“Hi, I’m Jordan, Lynette’s boyfriend. It’s great to finally meet you.” He leaned down to shake her hand.
Bailey gazed at his outstretched hand before shrugging it off. “Cool, when are we having some cake?”
Lynette frowned. Why was Bailey being so dismissive. “Whats wrong Sweetheart?” Jordan’s entire face fell. He knew Lynette should have introduced him to the kids sooner. He wanted to be part of her life. He had even suggested marriage to her several times, being turned down each and every time. Yet he stayed. He wanted to be a part of Lynette’s world, but she seemed to just be pushing him out. Was she even comfortable with him? Her children sure didn’t seem like it.
“What kind of princess has three dads? I only need one. A mom and a dad, thats it.” Her gaze was fixated on the group that was now surrounding the wedding cake. “I’m going to go and get some cake.”
Lynette turned to Jordan to apologize but he shrugged her off. “I’m going to head home. We can talk later, I’m really tired.”
“But-” Lynette began but he was already too far away to hear her.
“Do I have to call you dad now too?” Scarlett asked Ethan innocently.
“No,” Ethan shook his head. “I’m your step-dad, so you can call me whatever you want.”
“So it’s ok if I still call you Ethan?”
He nodded. “It’s fine with me.” His heart ached with each word that came out of her mouth. He, no matter how hard he tried, would never be an important part in these children’s lives. He was just plain old Ethan. He was just there, what significance did his presence have, other than the house they were living in? None whatsoever.
“Hey, babe,” Apollo called. “Snap out of it. We’re cutting the cake now.”
“Oh uh, right.” Ethan grasped Apollo’s hand which was already holding the knife, tightly. One step at a time and everything would be alright.
“Come on, we could do a really cool pose!” Ken said excitedly.
“Stop doing that!” Bailey hit her brother’s arm. “We’re trying to take a nice photo.”
“I’m just saying that we could do something much more fun than just staring at the camera and smiling,” Ken argued.
“Daddy,” Scarlett whined. “My feet hurt.” Apollo leaned over and swooped her in his arms.
“This is going to take a while, just snap it,” Lynette told the photographer.
“Really? They aren’t even posed or anything,” The photographer answered back skeptically.
“Yeah, it’s fine. This is what the Gray family is really like. They’d be much happier with this than some fake posed picture.”
The photographer nodded. “Whatever you want, you guys are paying.”
He clicked the button and the camera flashed.
“What, I wasn’t ready!” Ken whined. “Ethan didn’t even let me jump on his back yet!”
“Let’s see the photo,” Apollo said.
This was so adorable. 🙂
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The wedding was beautiful! I hope Ethan stops feeling insignificant in the lives of the family because we know he’s not. I just wanted to hug him when he was thinking that. He may be right about IF’s being unstable. So glad that Katherine and Tommy are doing alright.
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Ethan is skeptical because he has never had a real family before. It’s hard for him to believe that people really care about him. I didn’t want to erase Katherine and Tommy completely from the story without giving the reader some sort of closure. It’s nice to know where they are and that they’re not forgotten. The IFs are a totally different thing that I’ll get into in a separate chapter, you’ll just have to wait and see.
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