Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write an Ugly Duckling story structure(where the life-changing moment or realization comes in the middle). I’m still working on Closing Time this morning(this actually got me the rest of the words on this for the week). This will come before yesterday’s post, though.
Cam glanced around behind the bar, making sure he had everything taken care of before he ended his shift. He didn’t usually get off in the middle of the day, but Gio had shifted the schedule around, so Cam could go with him.
He felt needles prick his skin at the thought of where they were going. He shouldn’t be so nervous. He’d met most of Gio’s family before, most of them came to the pub from time to time. His father most of all. But, this was different. He couldn’t convince himself otherwise.
This should be just a family thing. Welcoming Mark and Caitie home from their honeymoon. But, Gio had asked him to come along. And he kept finding it harder and harder to say no to the man. If he’d ever been able to.
“You can go,”Doug said from the other end of the bar.
“You sure?” Cam asked. “We could get swamped right after I leave. Wouldn’t want to leave you with that.”
The other bartender smirked at him. “That’s not really the problem, is it? come on, Cam, you’ve worked Sunday afternoon shifts before. It’s slow until dinner. Just go. Boss said not to let you talk yourself out of it.”
Great. So, apparently Gio was drawing the other employees into this. And now they’d all be thinking he was getting special treatment from the boss. Just because they were together now-
“Cam, just go,” Doug said. “And stop freaking out about it.”
Stop freaking out. Sure, like it was so easy. He was going to be surrounded by his boyfriend’s very Catholic family. He knew just how that could go. He’d grown up with that. it didn’t matter how many times Gio said his family wasn’t like Cam’s, it was hard to shake this feeling.
But, he’d only made it to the end of the bar when he heard his name. “Cameron.”
He winced, recognizing the voice instantly. Damn. He’d hoped Elliot would have given up and gone home already. “What do you want?” he snapped at his brother. “I’m busy.”
His brother sneered at him. “Yeah, I’ve heard about how busy you’ve been. Dad’s dying, and you’re-”
“Shut up. Don’t you dare even say it,” he told his brother, shoving right past him. “You don’t have a goddamn clue about any of it.”
“Don’t swear at me, Cameron. Or take our Lord’s name in vain. Don’t you think you’ve blackened your soul enough?”
“I don’t think you even have one. Now, leave me alone. You can’t come back here.”
“Then, I’ll be waiting out here when you return.”
Well, he’d be waiting a damn long time. A goddamn long time, he thought, just because he knew if his brother could read his mind, it would piss him off. Cam just wouldn’t leave through the front.
But, once he was in the break room where he’d left his coat and winter boots, all that left him and he sank into a chair at the table. He didn’t believe the things his father and brother had always said about him. But, even so, their words crashed down on him. Maybe he wasn’t meant to have anything good. They were probably right about that at least.
Total bullshit. He could have sworn he’d heard the words out loud, said in Gio’s voice. it wouldn’t be the first time he’d said them to Cam. Whenever he started beating up on himself. It probably wasn’t true, either. But, he could take at least one day to feel like it was. And not let his family’s hate intrude. After that, it wouldn’t matter.
But, Gio wanted him there. And Cam was determined not to let him down. He wouldn’t let that hate hurt the man he loved. Yes, loved, he insisted. Even if he hadn’t admitted it before.
He rubbed a hand over his face and remembered the way Gio had kissed him this morning before going to meet his family for church. He let that give him the strength to get through this. When he stepped out of the break room, Elliot still stood at he other end of the hall. So, he turned in the opposite direction and headed for the back door. Dealing with Gio’s family would likely take enough out of him. He couldn’t do it if he had another confrontation with his brother.
Cam followed the directions Gio had given him out to his grandparents’ place. He didn’t know what he’d been expecting, but it hadn’t been the circular drive and a large, but fairly simple looking house. Cam reminded himself that the man and his wife had raised five kids in this house. And had like twenty grandkids or something. They’d need a lot of room. And they seemed to have it, both inside and out. He hadn’t believed anyone would live on this much land. He’d always lived in town. But, there was enough here you’d possibly never be able to walk all of it. And there on the other side of the yard was a pond with a bridge over it. That had to be the one Gio had told him about.*
He parked his car then climbed out and looked around. Everyone must be inside. Which made sense since it was still so cold out here. Dread weighed him down as he headed for the front door. Gio kept telling him his family was okay with all of this. but, what if that was only because he was their son. Would they be so okay if it was right there in front of them?
The door opened just as Cam lifted his hand to knock, and a hand reached out, yanking him into the house. “We don’t knock in this family,” Caitie said, grinning at him.
She’d always seemed a bit reserved around him, so the grin took him by surprise. Then, again she’d just spent the last week in Scotland alone with her new husband. She probably had a lot to grin about.
And he so was not going to think about that.
“Um, Gio invited me. I hope that’s okay. And that you had a good time.”
Caitie never stopped grinning. “We did. And of course it’s okay. Come on in. There’s lots of food.”
She kept pulling him further into the house. Was this really the girl Nolan had always called “fairy”? She seemed a little too fierce for that nickname.
There were so many people in the house, though, and he didn’t see Gio anywhere among them. Was this going to be some sort of gauntlet he had to get through to prove himself good enough to be with Gio?
But, none of them attacked him. instead they shook his hand, hugged him, smiled at him. What was wrong with them all? Did they know who he was? What he was to Gio? What he’d done to hurt someone they all cared about.
Then, Mark was right there in front of him. He did know all of that. And Cam was worried how he’d react to him being here, too. But, the breath rushed out of him, when Mark clasped his arm and pulled him into an awkward side hug. “I’ve never seen that boy so happy since the moment I met this family. You better keep it that way.”
Words failed him, so he just nodded. It was what he wanted, too, even if he wasn’t sure it was possible. Then, he was carried further along. Then, Dougal, Gio’s father, stepped in his path.
Cam gulped as he looked up at the other man. But, his eyes crinkled, and he pulled Cam into a tight, nearly bone-crushing, hug. he didn’t say a word, but really, he didn’t need to. This told him everything. He’d been accepted by this family, and all because he was with Gio. because Gio wanted him in his life. They didn’t even care that their son, brother, cousin was in love with another man.
His own family would never be that accepting.
Dougal released him, and Gio stood there. He grinned at him then stepped forward, sliding his hands into Cam’s hair. “I told you,” he murmured. “They only care that I’m happy.”
It was obviously true. And Cam just hoped he could keep Gio that way for as long as possible.