Theo and Kieran have been together for five years. They're very happy ... behind closed doors. Theo accepted from the start that Kieran isn't out to his conservative parents and has a lot to lose if they find out about his sexuality.
But a moment of sadness at a wedding changes things. Theo is faced with a decision: live the rest of his life in secret ... or break it off with Kieran.
Or is there a third alternative?
"Don't be sad." His eyes are pleading with me.
"I'm trying really hard not to be. I want to be happy on Seamus's wedding day."
He takes a step forward, definitely standing too close now. "I love you, Theodore," he rasps.
"I know you do." My voice is thick, and my chin trembles. The love has never been the issue. He's not one of those people who has a stunning woman on his arm as cover for his gayness. His excuse for nearing thirty-five without the hint of a girlfriend is that he's too busy with work. His family believes him because he does work a lot. He isn't, however, too busy for a relationship considering he spends every free moment in my home. As soon as he steps inside my door, he replaces his well-tailored suit with sweats and a tank top, gives me his full attention, and works hard on winning the boyfriend-of-the-century award. Secret-boyfriend-of-the-century, but still.
Except that we've never been on a date. Never walked hand in hand on the street or introduced each other to family and friends or done any of the other things couples do. All our time together is spent behind closed doors where we're safe from discovery. Where no one can find out his big secret: Kieran O'Riordan is gay. Very gay, as in he loves taking it up the ass.
I understand, though. His family is over-the-top conservative, even Seamus. He's loyal to me, but I know his parents make it difficult for him to be my friend. They aren't subtle in their opinions when we meet. To be perfectly honest, I doubt Seamus and I would have become BFFs if we'd met when we were older, and he'd known about my sexuality. He's not bigoted like the rest of them, but he's a family man and will do anything to avoid confrontation with his parents.
Like his brother, Kieran loves his family. But knowing they wouldn't accept who he really is and that he'll lose them if they find out -- at least the parents and the third brother, Liam -- makes it an impossible situation for Kieran. And I'm not going to be the one who forces him to choose between us. I'm not.
When he hooks his index finger with mine, I finally lose control over my threatening tears and say the words we both know are true, but that have never been spoken out loud. "I want what Seamus has," I whisper. "I want to get married, too."
"I know, baby." He takes my hand and laces his fingers with mine.
"Don't!" I try to pull free, but he's too strong and refuses to let go. "What if someone sees us?" I hiss.