Flamboyant book café owner Luca Moretti and geeky doctor Gus Hansen have been together for six years when the Supreme Court ruling makes same-sex marriage legal in all states. On June 26, 2015, Gus gets down on one knee and Luca screams yes.
On their wedding day, shortly before the ceremony, Luca’s mother explodes in anger, calling him a freak. The reason? He’s wearing a white veil, sprinkled with crystals.
Their relationship has been strained for a long time, and her words trigger traumatic memories. Instead of walking down the aisle, Luca runs.
Away from his mother. Away from Gus.
Gus counts down the minutes when Luca’s mother comes knocking. He realizes something’s wrong, but when he goes to talk to Luca, his husband-to-be is nowhere to be found.
Can Gus find Luca in time and manage to convince him to come back and get married?
Gus opened the office door, and his breath hitched when he saw Luca. Luca sat on the fake office lawn with his back to the door, a glittering white veil spilling from his head, covering his naked body. He was curled in on himself as if he was trying to make himself smaller. Goosebumps covered every inch of his naked skin, and as Gus stood there watching, Luca shivered.
Gus had only seen him like that once before, after a visit with his mother when Gus couldn’t go with him because of a shift change at the hospital. When he’d gotten home late that night, he’d found Luca lying on the floor, naked and curled into a ball. Not crying, not raging, just exuding quiet despair. Gus would prefer a tantrum, a dramatic screaming match, or even throwing things. This scared the crap out of him.
Without thinking, Gus kicked off his dress shoes and crossed the floor in a couple quick steps. He sank down behind his fiancé and lifted the sparkly hem of the veil with careful fingers. He ducked under it, scooted close, and let it fall over his own head, too.
He snaked his arms around Luca’s waist and pulled him into the V of his legs. A weight he hadn’t been aware of lifted from his shoulders when Luca relaxed and leaned back into Gus’s embrace.
Luca rested his head on Gus’s shoulder, and Gus tightened his grip. He caressed the smooth skin on Luca’s belly with his thumbs and burrowed his nose in his fiancé’s hair, inhaling the familiar scent, letting it calm his worried heart.
“I’m sorry.” Luca’s words were little more than a whisper.
“I love you.”
Gus’s voice cracked on the last word. He hadn’t realized how much the last minutes had affected him. He didn’t want to admit to the little nagging voice in his mind that had whispered, What if? All he knew in this moment was that he was never letting Luca out of his sight again. Or at least not letting him see his mother without Gus being with him.
“Oh, honey, I didn’t mean to worry you.” Luca fidgeted and wiggled in Gus’s arms until he managed to turn around. He wrapped his long legs around Gus and threw his arms around Gus’s neck. The veil got caught between them and Luca moved to take it off, but Gus stopped him.
“No.” He freed the exquisite fabric from its trap, taking great care not to pull off any of the crystals. When the veil covered them both, he put his arms around his fiancé and spread his fingers wide on the small of Luca’s back. He rested his cheek against Luca’s and whispered, “I have no idea what happened, but I’m always on your side. Always.”
“I know,” Luca whispered back.
They didn’t move for several minutes. Gus’s hands wandered up and down Luca’s back, gentle fingers running over the spine. Gus’s heartbeat returned to normal, and they just sat there, breathing together. Inhaling and exhaling as one. In this moment, Gus didn’t care about a worried mother or the waiting guests. He just needed to be close to his fiancé.