Who doesn't love a wedding? The three stories in Going to the Chapel prove that everyone has a special day. In Don't Ask by J.J. Massa, Captain Zachary Smith has always wanted to find out what boils behind Agent Falk Thayer's calm exterior. Falk, on the other hand, isn't looking for anything long-term. Never has. Never will. When things get hot and heavy between them, Captain Smith has to decide if he's willing to take less than what he needs or sacrifice everything.
In Building a Life by Alexa Snow, when Levi goes to his best friend Cooper's engagement party, he doesn't expect to meet someone fascinating -- and he definitely doesn't expect that someone to be Cooper's five-year-old niece Ashley. It comes as an even bigger surprise to find that Ashley's father Philip is both fascinating and hot. But Philip is married, even if his wife is mysteriously out of the picture, so this ready-made family can't possibly have room in it for Levi... or can it?
Finally, in Apples and Gin by Jenna Jones, country singer Sawyer Shaw loves photographer Noah Kingston and is tired of hiding it. He's kept his sexuality hidden for the sake of his career and his family, but over the past ten years Sawyer has come to realize what matters most to him is Noah and his happiness, and Sawyer is ready not only to make it public but also to make it permanent.
Apples & Gin
By Jenna Jones
Noah Kingston sat on the landing, glass of scotch in hand, and watched the party going on below. It was a small party, only thirty people or so: Sawyer's backup band and personal assistant and manager, and Noah's partners from his photography studio, as well as some of their employees, actual friends, and people Sawyer liked and Noah could tolerate or vice-versa.
Despite the small size -- though Sawyer would say the small size was the best part -- and the variety of the guest list, it was a good party. People were chatting, music was playing, and there was plenty of beer and snacks in the kitchen. Candles in punched-tin buckets led to the tiny dock on the canal and reflected on the water and Noah had hung lights from the balcony on the upper floor. It was all in celebration of Sawyer Shaw and the completion of his new album.
Sawyer was easy to spot from Noah's position: laughing in the center of a group on the sofa, his long legs sprawled out as he cradled a beer bottle against his thigh, the only person in the room to wear plaid. His laugh was joyous, infectious, and everyone around him responded to it, from Terry Silver, his manager, to Sandi, the receptionist from Allen Kingston Stone.
Noah sipped his scotch. He supposed he should be making more of an effort, playing the host, making certain all the guests had a good time -- but they were having a good time without his interference, and he could just watch, which he preferred to do anyway. Not just Sawyer -- though he always found Sawyer worth watching -- but the swirls and eddies of all the guests, their friends who knew each other because they knew Sawyer or Noah. He loved, for instance, to see Jonas Allen laughing with Sawyer's sound engineer, or Terry dancing with one of Noah's assistants, or Sawyer's personal assistant Jeannie sitting with his backup band and looking perfectly happy and comfortable between them.
He tilted his head at the black-clad woman who climbed up the stairs and sat on the landing beside him. She tucked her long skirt neatly under her legs and looked at him, friendly and unfamiliar.
"I don't know anybody here," she said without preamble. "Well, except for Sawyer, and I don't think I could say I know him so much as I've seen him around the office. And I know my date, of course." Noah nodded, having another sip, and she said, "And I saw you, and I thought, hey, here's another person who doesn't know anybody and I thought -- well, obviously, here I am."
"You are quite welcome to join me in watching the party," Noah said.
"Thanks." The woman nodded, smoothing her skirt. "It's not like most industry parties I've been to. It's mellow. "
"It's not exactly an industry party," Noah said. "It's a 'yay, the album's done, I feel like having a party' kind of party."
"You must know Sawyer well. Like I said, I've only seen him around the office. And I've heard some of his music, of course." She hesitated. "Is he really as good a musician as they say he is? Because his songs all sound pretty ordinary to me. Of course, I'm not really a country fan."
"He's a really good musician," Noah said. "One of the best in any genre."
"I keep hearing that. I'm not sure I believe it."
Noah looked at her, cocking an eyebrow. "Oh? Why's that?"
"He's too good-looking. And all he does is sing," she said. "And play a little guitar. My twelve-year-old nephew can sing and play guitar."
Noah had another sip. "Sawyer writes all of his own songs, in addition to arranging them, and he played all the instruments on his first album and his fourth one. Granted, the first one was just him and the guitar, and the fourth one was just the guitar and a piano with an occasional mandolin, but he played all three."
The woman looked nonplussed. "You must work for the label. Have I seen you around the office, too? You seem familiar but I can't place you."
"I'm in photography. Everything on the walls," he gestured to the room below them where several of his pictures hung in an orderly row, "is mine."
"Oh," she said, "I'm sorry. You're Noah Kingston. I'm Betsy," she added, looking embarrassed. "Betsy Black. I'm sorry I didn't recognize you. You don't look anything like your pictures."
"It's the beard," Noah said, scratching it. "The beard always throws people off. I usually shave after a trip, but I haven't yet from the last one."
"I think you should keep it. It suits you." She smiled at him, a little more at ease. "So, you're the other half of the bromance."
Noah chuckled. "Is that what they're calling it?"
"Yes," she said, smoothing her skirt again. "It's touching, really: big-name photographer takes country boy under his wing and they both live happily ever after. It's like Sawyer's your little brother."
Noah drank. "Little brother, best friend -- bromance is a good name for it."