A Very Messy Motel Brothers Wedding by Kate Hawthorne

1

Cameron

“Can you stand up straight?”

Cameron’s best friend, Eddie, glared at him in the mirror, then reached up nervously to tug at the lapels of the gray suit he wore.

“I am straight,” Eddie grumbled.

“You’re not, nor are you standing straight.” Cameron grabbed Eddie’s biceps and shifted him around until he looked the right height.

“I don’t want to wear a suit.”

“It’s not up to you.”

“It actually is.” Eddie shrugged him off and let the jacket slide down his arms. He handed it to Cameron with a sad look on his face. “Cam, if we wanted a big wedding, we would have had one.”

“Luke and I aren’t getting married,” Cameron said with a frown.

“Yeah. About that.” Eddie gathered the jacket in his arms and disappeared back into the dressing room. Cameron listened to him change back into his jeans and t-shirt, and wished he’d have taken longer, because he didn’t want to answer the questions Eddie was about to ask.

Eddie came back out of the dressing room and took a seat beside Cameron on one of the oversized leather chairs that faced the floor to ceiling mirror.

“Why aren’t you and my dad getting married?”

Cameron forced out a laugh. “I didn’t want to be your step-dad.”

“Be honest.”

“I am. I don’t.” He swallowed, then admitted, “Kevin.”

Eddie dropped his chin toward his chest and sighed. “What about him?”

“Is this weird?” Cameron asked. “Talking about your dads with me?”

“Kevin isn’t my dad.”

“But Luke is.”

Eddie pressed the pads of his fingers against his eyelids and stood up. He pulled Cameron with him and out the door of the tuxedo rental shop.

“I’m not wearing a suit,” Eddie said. “Let’s go get coffee or something.”

Eddie tugged him down the street, walking a handful of blocks before they found a cafe. Cameron had driven them down the hill for the fitting, and he found himself displeased with the size of the town, comparing everything to Cherry Creek, which was absurd because he didn’t even live in Cherry Creek anymore. He and Luke had been in Stanton for seven months so Cameron could attend school and were back in Cherry Creek only for spring break.

Cameron followed Eddie into the small cafe, frowning at the decorations, but they ordered and took their number and found a seat tucked in the back corner where they could be afforded some privacy.

“So what does Kevin have to do with anything?” Eddie asked once they’d gotten settled.

“I just want to go on the record saying I feel very weird talking to you about this.”

“Noted.” Eddie shrugged. “You don’t have to.”

Cameron frowned again.

Two years ago, it wouldn’t have been a question if he would have confided in Eddie about something like this, but that was before he’d gotten involved with Eddie’s dad and before Eddie had gotten involved with Cameron’s brother, and damn, their family tree was a mess.

“Can we talk about it like I’m not involved with your dad?” he asked.

“That’s fine.” Eddie pinched the tip of his straw between his thumb and forefinger. “Whatever works.”

“So, he got really fucked over by someone in his past,” Cameron said.

Eddie’s cheeks turned pink, but he nodded and took a drink of his iced tea.

“And I know I’m not that person, and he knows I’m not that person, but because of the difference in our ages, he just…” Cameron gestured into the void. “Hesitates.”

“I’ve never known him to do that,” Eddie said, still not looking up. “If anything, he acts first and thinks later. Like that time he sold the house I grew up in to move to the small town his boyfriend lived in.”

Cameron dragged his tongue across the front of his teeth.

“It would be great if you could take that for what it was, what it meant.” Eddie looked up at him, his expression indecipherable.

“Says the married man.”

“Charlie deserves this commitment.”

“Do I not?” Cameron snapped.

“Of course you do.”

Cameron bit the inside of his lip. He really didn’t want to argue with Eddie about this. He didn’t want to argue with Eddie about anything, honestly. He missed his best friend, and while he’d gotten closer to his half-brother, Beau, during the time he’d been in Stanton, it wasn’t the same.

“This was dumb,” he mumbled.

A waitress dressed in all black came to the table and dropped their food. They’d agreed to split a sandwich since it was late in the day, and Cameron grabbed his half, taking a huge bite to save himself from needing to say more. Eddie tapped his fingers against the crust of his piece, but didn’t move to eat it.

“I’m not mad,” Eddie finally said.

Cameron glanced up at him, but looked back at his meal quickly.

“I was at first, but I’m over it now. You’re the one who keeps making things weird, and I think that maybe you’re the one who isn’t over it.”

Cameron chewed slowly.

“I know that Charlie is your brother, and you have the rest of them, but you’re not here, Cam. So that means I have them too, and I think that makes you a little jealous.”

“I’m not jealous,” he protested through a mouthful of bread and bacon.

“If you say so.” Eddie pushed the plate toward Cameron. He leaned back in his chair and threaded his fingers together over his chest. It was a move that was so Charlie, Cameron had to look away.

“I’m not.”

“If Charlie and I wanted to have a big wedding, we would have,” Eddie said. “I’m letting you plan this because Charlie insists on indulging you, even though I’ve told him it’s a bad idea.”

“That’s rude.”

“You’re not a kid, Cam. Neither am I. I don’t know why you insist on still acting like one.”

Cameron threw the remainder of his half of the sandwich onto the plate and wiped his hands on a paper napkin. Eddie stood up and pulled his phone out of his pocket. He tapped away at the screen, not looking at Cameron.

“What are you doing?” Cameron asked.

“Getting a ride home.”

“I can drive you back.”

Eddie shook his head. “It’s fine, Cam.”

Eddie walked away, and Cameron scrambled after him, catching up with Eddie on the sidewalk. He looked down the street, no doubt waiting for the car service to show up.

“Don’t leave,” Cameron said, grabbing Eddie’s wrist. “I really did want to talk to you about this.”

“Maybe I’m not the guy.”

“You’re my best friend.”

“Am I?” Eddie challenged, but there was no fight in it. There were lines around the corners of his eyes that Cameron hadn’t seen before, and Eddie shrugged, shoving his hands into his pockets.

“What does that mean?” he said quietly.

“We used to be best friends, Cameron. But are we really now?”

Cameron swallowed. Even with everything that had happened in the last two years, he’d never imagined a world where Eddie wasn’t or wouldn’t be his best friend.

“I talk to Avery more than you,” Eddie continued. “Hell, I talk to Ronan more than you and he doesn’t talk to anybody.”

“You could call me.”

“Why would I want to?” Eddie raised his voice. “This is how you get every time we talk. And you think just because you came up with this ridiculous wedding idea that everything would go back to normal?”

“Well…yes?” Cameron grimaced, feeling childish and embarrassed. The hair on his forearms prickled and he rubbed his palms up and down his arms, even though he wasn’t cold.

“You’ve gotta get your shit straight.” Eddie sighed, stepping toward the curb. He looked at Cameron like he was sad, and that made Cameron sad. He blinked quickly, hoping he didn’t do something even more embarrassing. . . like cry.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“Get it together before the wedding,” Eddie said.

“What?”

“I’m marrying your brother on Saturday.” Eddie waved at a red Honda that had pulled up, and the driver came to a stop in front of them. “And I don’t want my best man to be an emotional disaster.”