Bonus Scene: Brothers and Boyfriends, a bonus scene for Legacy and Lovers
Congratulations on hitting the 200 review mark, Heathens! Here is your first bonus scene from Legacy and Lovers. Please note that this scene contains spoilers for L&L.
We waited for the waitress to finish taking our order and moving away before we focused on each other. Jake had been the last to arrive, but he had practice and then had to grab a car to come uptown. Archie had his phone in his hand while Bubba drummed his fingers against the side of his cup, eyeing Archie’s phone and whatever he was searching.
“Do I need to start?” Jake asked before draining his glass of water. I nudged mine over to him. I wasn’t planning on drinking it anyway. He lifted his chin in thanks.
“I don’t think you need to,” I told him in between sips of coffee. The diner was one of our favorite spots. Normally, we’d have this kind of discussion at home, but Frankie was still resting and we wanted to avoid arousing any suspicions. Especially if she misinterpreted anything.
Honestly, sometimes, it was funny. The rest of the time? Not so much. And I’d personally slug the first one of us, myself included, who made her cry.
“No?” Jake asked when Bubba and Archie kept their attention on the phone. “Then it’s just you and me planning this?”
“Fuck off, Jake,” Archie said without glancing up. “We’re trying to find the right one. I know I saw what I think will work and we’re going to need to do a custom order, but I want to show you what I was thinking.”
I hid a smile at Jake’s faint smirk. “Just making sure you were still paying attention.”
“Stop trying to bait him,” Bubba said with a brief glance at us. “That doesn’t help.”
“Man, you used to be fun.” The mock pout did what the bitching didn’t, they laughed and my grin deepened. “Fine, while you two sad sacks search, let’s talk about how we want to propose.”
“I had a thought on that,” I said, putting the coffee cup down. “I’ve been thinking about this for a few years.”
“Of course you have, Mr. Well-Adjusted.”
“Don’t hate, you’ll get there when you grow up.” That earned me a middle finger, of course, when I added, “if you ever do,” he just snorted and shook his head.
“Got it.” Archie made a little fist pump of triumph. There was more animation and engagement to him recently. The past year had been hard on him, Frankie had worried and so had I. Hell, all of us had, but he was making his way back toward us and for that, I was damn glad.
The waitress returned with plates loaded with burgers, fries, and fresh drinks all around. She even brought the Coke I’d ordered to have with my meal and I drained the coffee.
No sooner did she leave than my phone pinged with a message. So did Jake’s. I pulled it out of my pocket and thumbed the screen open so I could look at it.
“This one is in three parts, but we can customize one to be in four,” Archie said. “I say we work it so each one has two diamonds and then whatever other stone we want to add to it, that way it’s balanced, then we have them work the loop in.”
The infinity loop, like our tattoos. Not a bad plan. Jake munched on a fry as he studied it.
“We have a lot of options with metal, but how big do we want it—I mean she can’t have more than a half-inch at best between her knuckles and the first joint.”
“We can talk to the jeweler,” Archie said, waving off the concern. “I’m thinking titanium or something as strong. Just because that’s what the commitment is. But also, we can have matching rings crafted when we’re looking at the bands part.”
“Are we going to discuss how we handle the legalities now?” Bubba had taken a bite of his burger to punctuate the question and I glanced back at the ring.
The idea of interlocking rings where we each gave her one that would then form a whole held a lot of appeal. This conversation was almost as funny as it had been inevitable, really.
“No,” Archie said after a moment, his tone more thoughtful than confrontational. “That’s a conversation we have to have with her.”
“Agreed,” I injected. “This is about asking her, planning how we ask her and making it clear that we’re all committed to this.”
“You think she doubts that?” Jake considered, his eyes narrowed.
“No,” Bubba answered with a sharp shake of his head. “She doesn’t doubt us. I’ll be honest, even when she thought we were being dicks, she didn’t doubt that we cared. We’ve made this work for the past four years and we’re going strong.”
I agreed with all of that.
“No, Frankie doesn’t doubt us. The tour put a lot of things into perspective.”
“Fuck,” Archie said with an exhale. “Did it ever.” He finally set aside the phone. “I’m all for you guys going platinum, but next time, I’m just coming along.”
“Same,” Jake muttered. “I fucking hated being five thousand miles away when she needed us.”
Agreed, but I didn’t have to throw that in. “We handled it.” I pointed to Bubba with a french fry. “More, Bubba handled it. He kept us looped in, we were there on the phone and on video calls. Granted, while not ideal, we were there. We’ve made this work and we’re even balancing the more hard-headed personalities among us.”
I didn’t even glance at Jake or Archie and they still flipped me off, but Bubba laughed. “Good point.”
“Fine, we’re saints.” We were so not, but Archie’s exasperation was funny. “Who asks first?”
“Not you,” I said with Bubba and Jake’s echoed comments piling on top. “No offense,” I said, continuing as Archie seemed torn between insult and amusement.
“I’ll let you know if I need to take it.”
I grinned. “The point,” I pressed on before Jake or Bubba could jump in. “Not you because I think we all should have a carte blanche on our own proposals. We have our own relationships with her, then we have the one we built as a family. You,” —I pointed a fry at Archie— “will absolutely go over the top with whatever you do and that means it’s a good capper. Mine is likely to be a lot more personal.”
“Are you saying mine won’t be personal?” Sometimes, I enjoyed Archie’s needling and other times, I just wanted to throw food at him.
“No, dickhead,” Jake answered. “I’m saying your idea of personal is a whole orchestra and sky writing. It’s definitely got style, don’t get me wrong. You’re also exceptional at planning the big things that knock her right off her feet. But Coop is right, I want my own proposal. I want to plan it, propose, and make it personal. Then maybe cap off all our proposals with a big group one.”
“Or…” Bubba said slowly, before taking a drink of his soda. “We propose, but we ask her not to answer. Not immediately. I like the idea of keeping it personal, one thousand percent. But I also want her to know for damn certain we’re coordinating this. That we are asking her as individuals, but we’re all in this together. We all want to marry her.”
“Brother Boyfriends unite,” Archie said with a grin and Bubba just chuckled.
“So we propose, in our own ways, on our own schedules. But we also set a timetable so that we can go in order.”
“You already know the order, don’t you?” Archie asked even if it sounded mostly rhetorical.
“Sure, but I’m open to discussion. After all, I proposed to her already.”
“You were five.” Jake flicked a french fry at me.
“Still counts and she said yes long before she met you bozos. So, I think we go in the order we fell for her.”
“Which means in the order we met her,” Bubba said and nodded.
“That means I’m definitely last.” Instead of being remotely irritated, Archie seemed pleased. “Since every proposal is personal, I get to do whatever I want—right?”
“Why do I think this is going to be both hilarious and cringe-inducing?” Jake threw in, but then he bumped Archie’s shoulder with his fist. “Short answer, yes, you do whatever you want.”
“Are you going to incorporate the group ask?” I was curious because that could go either way.
“I think so,” Archie said. “Let me do a little more mental planning. Jake, do you have graph paper?”
“Yep.” He pulled it out of his backpack and set it on the table, then passed over a pencil. Archie pushed his plate out the way and started sketching.
“Do you think we should ask her dad?” Bubba mused.
“Nope,” Jake said even as Archie shook his head.
“No, I think we tell him. Like if we want him involved at any point in the proposal, but as much as I like the guy and Frankie adores him—he doesn’t get to make this decision for her. No one makes this decision for her.”
We all agreed.
“Fair deal,” I said, tackling the next uncomfortable part of this whole thing. “Custom designed and built ring is going to be expensive and before you say you can cover it, I want to pay for my own ring for her.”
“Same,” Bubba said.
“Yep.” Jake gave a thumbs up as he leaned toward what Archie was drawing. “We need to budget for it.”
For once, Archie didn’t mumble a complaint. He just nodded. “Equitable, well-balanced, and committed.”
“How very mature of you,” I teased and he snorted, before he snagged a fry of Jake’s plate and flung it at me. I caught this one and just ate it.
“So that just leaves when do we ask?”
“When the rings are ready,” I suggested. “That gives us all the time to plan out what we want to do.”
Agreement reached, we ate and watched Archie draw with Jake adding some suggestions. Bubba and I also offered up some ideas, but by the time we finished lunch and ordered cheesecake to take home to her, we had a basic ring design and a budget.
And I already knew exactly how I was going to propose.
I couldn’t wait.