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KELLIE DENNIS: Book Covers by Design
Release Date: 23 October 2015
One year on from Paul’s proposal, Jason is living a life he never dreamed of. As he fusses with his tie and readies to walk down the aisle, he reminisces about the previous twelve months. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the happy couple in the lead up to their wedding, with obstacles big and small thrown in their way.
Marrying one of New York’s most eligible bachelors has Jason’s stomach in knots. Expectations of their society wedding are high, but out of love for Paul, Jason goes along with the grand plans because he understands Paul’s family has a reputation to maintain. But Paul has a surprise up his sleeve that just may see Jason getting the wedding of his dreams.
Follow Jason on his journey as he prepares to marry one of the most eligible bachelors in New York and find out just how Dave got his name.
“DAMMIT, JASON. Stop fussing with it,” said Sophia, batting my hands away and straightening my bow tie—again. She may be Paul’s sister and here to help me get dressed and calm my nerves before I walked down the aisle, but I couldn’t freaking breathe.
“We should’ve eloped,” I muttered as I fought the rising panic in my lungs.
I loved Paul and knew he loved me, so I wasn’t getting cold feet. No one would go to a musical just to fall asleep to be with someone they didn’t love. Our commitment to each other wasn’t in question, but my nerves were sparking throughout my body at the thought of standing in front of all those important people as we said our vows.
I looked through the sheer curtain that covered the small square window separating the room I was getting dressed in and the large chapel. The room was lavishly decorated with elaborate flower arrangements and silk-covered chairs. It was filled with the crowd that were there to witness the nuptials. I couldn’t distinguish between the guests as the curtain was just thick enough to blur the details, but I could hear the muted voices and soft music coming through the old sandstone walls. Paul was in the room across the hall from mine, getting the same help from his mom as I was getting from Sophia. Except I was pretty sure he could breathe.
Everyone from the City Mayor, New York socialites, senators—the liberal ones—to powerful and influential businessmen were there today, and through the curtain I could make out the backs of their heads as they waited for Paul and me to walk down the aisle together. I swallowed at the thought.
Paul didn’t care where we got married. He wanted me to be happy and would have eloped to Hawaii if I really pushed him, but I knew how much it meant to his family and what was expected of someone of his business caliber and social status. I knew what I was getting myself into when I said yes over a year ago. Still, my nerves didn’t care what was expected.
We were getting hitched in an old manor in South Hampton, complete with sweeping staircases and its own expensively decorated chapel surrounded by manicured gardens. It screamed wealth and self-importance, and a little part of me hoped my parents would see the tabloid pictures. The reception was to be held at the Plaza, naturally, but when I questioned Paul about the distance the guests would have to drive, he waved me off and said it was what was expected.
I sighed at the thought and secretly longed for a secluded Hawaiian island.
“And take this moment away from Mom?” Sophia batted my hands away again as she loosened the tie a little, allowing me to breathe easier. Her voice softened as she said, “Not to mention this will show the New York City gay set that its most eligible bachelor has now been permanently taken off the market, and by a humble accountant from the boroughs.” Sophia smiled fondly at me as her eyes welled and glistened. “I’m so glad he found you.”
“I’m glad he scared the shit out of me on the stairs,” I said, thinking back to when I’d first met him. I had started taking the stairs at work to avoid meeting him in the elevator, but the too-sexy-for-anyone’s-shirt-smug bastard cornered me when he realized I was avoiding him.
Sophia giggled. “He was pretty determined, wasn’t he?”
You could say that.
Our relationship wasn’t always perfect, and it had taken some convincing on his part for me to move in with him. I was renting a small apartment and making do on my accountant’s wage. He lived in a swanky penthouse uptown and because he lived closer to our common workplace, I agreed to move in. But not before I set some ground rules about paying my share. It had taken nearly a full week of negotiations before I gave in and let him almost have his way. Because he owned the apartment outright, I insisted on paying for the utilities. I couldn’t afford to pay him half what the rent would be, and I sensed he let me pay for the sundries only because he wanted me to move in sooner rather than later.
We ended up agreeing to disagree and to be honest, it wasn’t worth the arguments.
“Why do you have to be so stubborn about this?” Paul raised his voice at me. “Do you think Dad makes Mom pay the electric? Do you think they have separate bank accounts or that the house is only in Dad’s name?”
“Of course not, that would be stupid. They’re married.” I realized my mistake too late.
“But we’re not married yet!” I was clutching at straws.
“But we’re going to be. You said yes. You’re wearing my ring. I already think of you as my husband and a ceremony and a piece of paper isn’t going to change anything.”
“Oh, now you’re just being a hypocrite. You said you wanted a boyfriend to love you for who you are, not for your bank balance or social connections. When we first started dating we split things fifty-fifty. Why can’t we do that now?”
“You’re being ridiculous,” Paul huffed, clearly not giving up yet.
I tried to get him to see it my way. My voice quieter, I said, “I’ve been on my own since my parents disowned me. I’ve had only myself to rely on. No one has ever been there to support me and make sure I was all right. I don’t want to be dependent on you, and as unlikely as it is, I want to be your equal. I want to be worthy of you, and I can’t do that if I feel like I’m mooching.” We didn’t talk about my parents much; there wasn’t a lot to talk about, after all, but whenever the subject came up, Paul became more upset about their absence than I did. My anger fled, and although Paul’s face had softened he was still hanging on to the fight.
“You are my equal. Maybe not in salary, but there are other ways to be in balance with each other. You bring so much to our relationship, to our home. And I’m not talking about Dave.” He tried to lighten the conversation, but I could sense the truth in his words. “Will you change your mind after we’re married?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I said honestly. “Please let me pay my way, I don’t know how to be comfortable doing anything else.”
Paul gathered me in his arms, holding me tight against his chest and burying his face in my unruly hair. “Fine, I give. But once we’re married what’s mine is yours.”
At that point we hadn’t discussed the pre-nup.