This scene takes place between Home Free and Close to Home.

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Teddy assumed that at some point in the days leading up to the wedding…D would freak out. He wasn’t the only one who assumed that.

“Hey, don’t worry, Teddy, I won’t let D leave you at the altar,” Maizy called, dragging D to her final fitting (D glowered murderously over her shoulder).

“Remember how bad I was,” Geo confided, quietly, standing at the grill during an early spring barbecue, when it was still almost too cold to eat outside. “I’m just saying, D’s a lot less convinced about the whole marriage thing. Anyway.”

Even D kept saying things like, “I can’t fucking believe we thought this was a good idea” and “When this shit is over, we’re never having another party again ever, Teddy, okay?”

Only Rory, of their closest friends, thought D’s bravado in this—as in most of everything else—was feigned.

“She’s on a schedule,” he’d said, passing Teddy’s coffee across the counter. “She’s whined about everything except the flowers. Once she hits flowers, she’ll start back up again with the dress. Don’t worry about it.”

In fact, she did shoes after flowers, but then, just as predicted, she started talking about the dress again. And this time he thought she was shooting strange sideways glances at him, too.

What if she was really having second thoughts? The idea of D calling off the wedding became a sick, low-sinking nausea Teddy carried with him through the day. Not that he felt that attached to the idea of being married (at least, not that he’d readily admit, though it had definitely grown on him over the months and months since the night she’d reverse-engineered the proposal). But D could still take off, any day, and he’d wait for her—he had no illusions he’d ever find anyone who understood him nearly as well—but he was forced to accept, at least provisionally, that when their relationship had been quite a bit newer, he’d been quite a bit more capable of living without her. Now that D was part of his mornings, evenings, and all night long, Teddy couldn’t really imagine life without her voice, her laughter, her derision, the scent of her beside him.

The feeling of her inside him.

He should have been riding high on certainty, the night before their wedding. He didn’t really think she’d leave him at the altar (D was way too decisive for that). But now he was consumed with a strange sensation of dread, barely plastered over with excitement.

They had a goofy Family Dinner, during the course of which they received amusing gifts from their nearest and dearest. A “spa for couples” kit from Maizy, complete with winks and nudges and two pounds of strawberries.

“Trust me,” she said. “Eat the strawberries in advance. Trust me.”

“If they eat all the strawberries, they’re gonna puke right into their bath bomb,” Geo muttered. “What the hell is a bath bomb, anyway? Is that supposed to be a good thing?”

“I’ll buy you one, too, and you can see.”

It was worth the excruciatingly slow pace of dinner to watch Geo’s face contort, imagining Maizy buying him anything for a bath.

“No thanks, Maiz.”

“Anyway,” Rory said. “Here’s from us.”

A scrap book, already begun, with pictures of the two of them at different times. (One from the day they’d moved everything into the new gym; another from the day they’d opened the new studio, in which Teddy was demonstrating a move to a group of small kids and D, standing behind him, was pulling faces to make them laugh. He wouldn’t have pegged her for someone who could relate to children well, but D’s lack of artifice perfectly translated to the social mores of the under-eights set.)

And, tucked into the scrapbook, a gift card to the resort where they’d stayed the night they’d decided to get married.

“And we got Mrs Walters to promise she’d cover the studio if you wanted to go away, too,” Maizy added. “I mean, Roar did. But it was my idea.”

“I thought that was my idea,” Geo said. “I’m the one who said—”

Rory’s voice overrode them. “Just remember that even if you live together and spend a lot of time together, you still have to get away once in a while, okay? Speaking of, I think we should go.”

“The scrapbook is incredible,” Teddy told him. “Thank you so much.”

“Well, it’s only the beginning, but I figured you didn’t have as many pictures as I do, so.” He shrugged.

“Yeah, I thought we had an agreement about that one at the studio, Roar. Jerk.”

Rory stood up and nudged his husband. “That’s my favorite. Going now. Maiz—”

“Yeah, sure. I’m going, too. Bye, neighbors! Have a fun last night of being single!”

“Huh, so this is supposed to be your bachelor party,” D said, while the rest of them were still clearing out. “I’ll have to ponder that shit.”

Teddy wanted, more than anything, to muster a joke or a tease or at the very least a smile. Instead, he began bagging up the few bits of wrapping paper and hoped she wouldn’t notice.

Maizy slammed the back door, and D locked up after Geo and Roar in front. Then: silence.

Silence was never good, not when it came to D.

“Is this about your parents?”

What? Teddy looked across the room. “My parents?”

D waved a hand. “That fucking bullshit letter they sent. You know. The one addressed to Theresa.”

“No. I’m not—I expected that.”

“Well, I expected my folks to ignore their invitation, and it still fucking sucked, Teddy. Not like it means you don’t feel anything, just because you know they’re gonna screw you over.”

He couldn’t deny, now, that there was something going on with him. He’d missed his chance to do that.

“It’s not about my parents.”

“Okay.” She walked up and sat on the kitchen counter, feet dangling. “You’re freaking the fuck out, aren’t you?”

“I’m—” Not hung up in his throat. “I’m trying really hard not to.”

“Uh huh.”

Teddy looked up, because he couldn’t figure out her tone. “I’ll be fine, D. I swear.”

“Okay.” She jumped down again. “Sure, Teddy. Got it. You are fine.” D walked away, down the hallway, and she definitely wasn’t angry, but her departure only ramped up his anxiety.

What the hell? Stop doing this. It’s fine. Getting married is fine. You’re fine.

He kept cleaning. Maybe they could just lie together in bed, and he could hide inside her strength. The night before the studio’s big opening he’d realized it was happening and lost his nerve, and D had held him with tight arms and told him not to be a fuckin’ idiot, the studio was amazing, he was amazing, and it was gonna be fine. (It was. Better than fine.)

Finish cleaning. Let D tell him he was an idiot. Sleep. Get married. Good list.

Except he didn’t even get as far as the first item before D came back, footsteps light in the hallway, and hugged him from behind.

And oh. That was D. And that was the strap-on she liked best, one of the few they’d begun collecting together. She called it The Purple Plow, long, not too thick, but long, capable of overwhelming him unless they played with it a lot.

D didn’t bring it out that often. Only when overwhelming him was her goal.

Right now she pressed harder against him, The Plow rutting an unyielding course on the back of his slacks. Teddy caught his breath.

“Fine, fine, fine,” D mumbled in his ear, hands taking hold of each wrist. “Mm, my man is fine.”


“You gonna tell me my man’s not fine? Because those are fighting words, Teddy, and I don’t want to fight you. Not tonight.”


“Huh uh.” Now she brought his wrists together over his chest, pulling him back tightly against The Plow. “I want to marry you. Weird, isn’t it? Because I never wanted to marry anyone. I thought it was a big old joke on suckers. Get married, pretend you’re proving something by doing it, ha ha ha, assholes, wait till you realize nothing fucking changes, and you’re still the same loser you were before.”

He took shuddering breaths, which she could undoubtedly feel.

“Except you’re not a sucker. And I’m not a sucker. And I still want to marry you. I’d marry you, no party, not even our friends there. I’d marry you in the dark, all by ourselves, no witnesses, no people in a ten mile radius, and it’d feel just as real as all that crazy shit we’re doing tomorrow. Maybe more real.”

“I don’t know why I feel so…” But he didn’t even have a word for it. “All the stuff you hate about it, I usually enjoy. So why do I feel this—this dread, as if tomorrow’s just an obstacle we have to cross?”

“Because you’re exhausted, Teddy. Because we got together, you opened the studio, you’ve been working seven day weeks for months, and you also had to pretty much plan the wedding since your bitch of a fiancee refused—”


“And we started working together a lot, too, which was good, and I love it, but it’s not like we got to spend more quality fuckin’ time with each other, Teddy. It was just more responsibility, and you worried all the time about whether you were gonna say something to me in the wrong tone and I was gonna wig the fuck out on you.”

He winced. “Thought I hid that part of it.”

“Hey, I know you think I’m a delicate flower, boy.”

“You know I don’t. But you aren’t an employee.”

“I’m about to be your wife.”

He shivered. “I’m sorry. I thought I could hold off this—this—whatever it is, at least until after the wedding. I thought it would go away.”

“Teddy, Teddy, Teddy.” A few short jabs of The Plow. “You thought you could handle all your crazy and all my crazy at the same time, didn’t you?”

Teddy closed his eyes, caught between smiling and apologizing. “It sounded less ridiculous when I didn’t completely explain it.”

“Listen, I thought you were gonna be the rock, too, Teddy, but look who’s hard right now.”

“Mm. D, you know I love The Plow, but I don’t want to hobble down the aisle tomorrow—”

“I’ll do you up just right,” she whispered in his ear. “I kinda like the idea of you walking all bowlegged tomorrow, Teddy.” She kissed the back of his neck and he couldn’t stop shivering again, this time from a very different place in his mind.

“D, I—” But I’m sorry seemed like a silly thing to say.

“I know, boy. I know. Come on to bed now.”

He allowed himself to be led, still unsettled, to the bedroom, pushed back on the bed. D was the best lover he’d ever had, and he was able to think that, now, without then getting lost in thinking about how she’d never had a lover before him, that everything before him was locked behind a door she didn’t open. Teddy allowed her to undress him and tried to find the stillness where he usually did, beneath her steady gaze and sure hands.

“I’m gonna suck your cock right now,” D said, voice heated, intense. “I’m gonna suck it till you’re crying, boy, begging me to take you. Is that what you want, Teddy?”

“I don’t know why I feel this way. I love you. I love the idea of being married to you, I don’t understand why I can’t be in it.”

“I told you. You haven’t had a full night of sleep since the studio opened, you got a needy-ass fiancee, you got really annoying friends, and bosses who never let you stop thinking of work. And you’ve been trying to keep it together like if you let go, everything would crash together.”

“That’s how it felt.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t know if you know this, Teddy, but I do all right for a crazy bitch. You can let go now.” D moved down his body, breathing against his skin, until she found what she was looking for.

With all other partners, Teddy had experienced a slight splintering at this moment, even if they’d known him relatively well. But the way D touched his cock reinforced his wholeness instead of reminding him that some part of his brain, even after all these years, still struggled to feel complete.

Which is probably why he was crying, even as he acknowledged the pleasure.

And among the things he loved about his fiancee was that she didn’t even pause. She kept doing exactly what she was doing, even as he fell apart.

The orgasm, when it came, was quick and bordering-on-uncomfortable. But D would wring him all night if he let her, so she changed it up and began pressing him open lower, reaching for lube, which made him shake as if his bones were crumbling.

“D, I’m not sure I can—”

“You can. Shh, boy, let me do this. We are not starting our married fuckin’ life with you all wound up like you can’t remember how to take deep breaths, Teddy. If anyone gets to be a wreck, it’s me, right?” She leaned up, two fingers stroking in and out, readying him for The Plow. “That’s what they’re all waiting for. None of them know, Teddy. This is our fuckin’ secret. None of them know that sometimes I get to be the one who holds us together. Ha.”

She went back to work, but even as he was arching his back, he mumbled disagreement.

“Rory knows. He didn’t buy your act for a second.”

“That wasn’t an act, it was just a slight exaggeration.” She twisted her fingers and he groaned. “Feel good, Teddy?”


“Not yet.” She kept playing in his ass, or just playing him in general, until even Teddy didn’t remember ever having made these particular sounds before. “Yeah,” D said, idly playing with his cock in a way that almost pushed him back to the edge. “Yeah, that’s right, good boy. I think you’re ready now.”

The Plow, oh damn, The Plow. D sank in slowly, steadily, deeply, until Teddy stopped breathing.

“I love being inside you like this,” she whispered. One of her hands ran up and down his belly, an animalistic petting that never failed to sooth him. “I had no fucking idea how much I’d love this. The way you open for me, boy—” She shook her head.

Revelations on top of revelations. That D was as undone by his trust as he was by her touch wasn’t new, but it never failed to astound him.

“When I met you,” he began, watching her face.

She laughed. “You rehearsing right now?”

“Maybe. When I met you, D, I thought I knew what it felt like to be happy. I thought I understood what people meant, when they said they were in love. I thought I was doing pretty well for myself. Then you showed up and I knew, almost immediately, that I couldn’t imagine my life without you in it.”

D pushed in more and he focused on the sensation, closing his eyes.

“You added so much to my world, I look back and see only two dimensions before I met you. You added light and shadow, depth, and a hell of a lot of laughter.” Good, the words kept coming. If he could remember them right now, he shouldn’t have any problem tomorrow. “And I knew I didn’t want to live without your laughter, your smile, you complete inability to cook.”

She socked him on the thigh. She’d done it each time he rehearsed that part, and now it was part of the vow.

“In you I see companionship I never even dreamed I’d find, and a reflection of my truest self that I didn’t even know I needed. I vow to honor you every day the rest of our lives, D.”

“Ugh, ugh, ugh,” she said, rocking into him. “Teddy, shit.” D cried out, fingers digging into his skin, going deep and rubbing hard against The Plow, against his body.

“Did you just get off to our wedding vows, D?”

“Shut up.” She was so fucking beautiful, so strong, kneeling over him, panting. She looked down at him and stuck thumb and index finger inside her mouth before bringing them to his cock. “My turn.”

“Your turn to—” She hadn’t rehearsed with him. She didn’t even let him read her vows. And now she was finally going to say them, but she was stroking him as she did so, which made it damn hard to concentrate.

“My life was simpler before I met you,” D said. In the pause that followed, she pushed The Plow in deeper, bottoming out inside him. Teddy groaned. “Before I met you, I knew everything I needed to know about the world. I knew it was a fucked up shit hole, and that mostly it would screw you over unless you kept your claws out.”

“Mm—guh—you really—gonna say—‘fucked up shit hole’ tomorrow?”

“They’re my fucking vows and I’ll say whatever I want.”


Her other hand spread his lips, opening him up even more. There was nowhere to run when she opened him up like this, with his cock in her hands and her cock in his ass. Now the fingers on his cock squeezed the base of it and he shuddered.

“I knew that I was an ugly, soulless bitch, and that happy endings only happened for other people. Then you bought me a cup of coffee, and since that minute, since that first taste, I haven’t been able to get my claws out around you, Teddy, not even when I really wanted to.”

Oh, D. Oh, my love. He reached up. Her face was too far away, but he could touch her arms, little circles with his fingertips. Her own pressure on his cock increased and he could feel himself start to buck against her.

“And it’s been fucking hard, too, but in my whole life I never thought anyone would look at me like they believed I was good, and you do, all the time. I thought being happy was what you called it when you could get through the day without wanting to die. I had no idea there was more to it, that I could go whole days with my eyes open and my heart full, Teddy. I want to wake up beside you for the rest of my life.”

The orgasm took him high, his entire body tingling with little sparks of energy, and she kept at him, jolts of The Plow, finger and thumb once more pressing down at the base of his cock while her other fingers played with his lips, even more sensitive now.

“D—D—too much—”

“That one was for you, but the next one’s for me. Give it to me, Teddy. Tonight and tomorrow and all the other days forever.” She pulled out until just the tip of The Plow was inside him, playing, gyrating, hitting different spots. He moaned, and thrashed, torn between pulling away and thrusting towards her. “That’s right, boy. Tell me how much you love this.”

“I do—D—D, please, please—

“Yeah, I can’t really resist, especially since we just got married.” Before he had time to think What? she’d pulled out completely and dove for his cock, taking it between her lips, licking in quick flicks of her tongue until he cried out, coming again, so much harder he couldn’t breathe or see or think.

Eyes squeezed shut, gasping, trembling everywhere—that’s when he realized what she’d said.

She was grinning when he opened his eyes. “Huh. So it took you about a minute and a half to figure it out, but most of that was spent with me blowing your mind, so I guess that’s all right. I love you, Teddy. And now you don’t have to worry about the wedding, because we’ve already done the most important part.”

“I love you,” he whispered, pulling her to him. “I’m sorry I’ve been so—so frazzled lately.”

“You’re never frazzled. But if I worked myself up the way you did for the last few weeks, you’d tell me to let you know about it. There some reason you think that doesn’t go both ways?” Any possible sting her words might have held was eliminated by the sweetness of her kiss.

“I know. I just kept telling myself if I could only ride it out— I don’t know.” He frowned, trying to come up with an explanation. But now, feeling more relaxed than he had in a long time, he didn’t know why he’d hesitated talking to D.

“Well, don’t let it happen again.” She kissed him again, lingering. “Teddy. My husband. Don’t tell anyone we did it this way. Roar would kill us.”

“It’s so strange, how real this feels. I thought—I assumed you did it in front of people because that’s what made it feel valid, that’s what made it true, but right now—” He tightened his arm around her shoulders. “My wife. Oh god, D. We—we just—”

“Got married. I know. And shared four orgasms. That’s fair, I think. And way, way better than anything that’s gonna happen tomorrow.”

“You think we can’t do this again? I’m good for a few more. Tomorrow,” he added quickly.

“Mm.” D sighed, unbuckling The Plow and tossing it in the hamper. “You’re right, though. I didn’t know if it would work, but it did.”

“How long have you been planning this?”

“Week, week and a half. Roar told me I was making you nervous and I should dial it back.”

Teddy considered this. “You didn’t dial it back a week ago. You ramped it up.”

“Yeah, well, I’m shit at following directions.” She leaned up over him, touching his face with fingers that smelled like both of them. “Tonight was for me. This is the wedding I’ll remember best. Us saying our vows like this, just the two of us, no uncomfortable dress—thank you, Teddy. This was what I wanted, more than everything tomorrow.”

“I didn’t even know I wanted this until you gave it to me.” A truth in his life in so many more ways than exchanging vows. “Thank you, D. I’ll try to make tomorrow memorable, too.”

“Yeah, well, Geo said he’d guard my hiding spot if I started to lose it.”

“I should be the one who—”

“Talks to our friends, and laughs with people, and shows them how much we like them. That’s your job, husband. Because you know I ain’t doing any of that shit.”

“Okay.” He kissed her again. “It’s a deal. Love you, D. Happy we-just-got-married.”

“Yeah, happy we-just-got-married, Teddy. Goodnight.”

He thought he’d be up all night, the night before the wedding. But Teddy found with D curled up beside him, he slept just fine.