~*~AJ~*~

What the fuck?

I didnít hear that right.

Marrying Jessica? Jessica? I mean I like Jessica. Jessica?

I scanned the room. We were all looking at each other. Except Tracie. She immediately went to him, "Congratulations, Kevin." She hugged him. She better know something we donít.

Best thing about that was it gave me and Lee time to make Ďwhat the fuckí faces at each other. Tracie turned around and gave me a look. I read it as I had better haul my skinny ass over and congratulate the groom. So I did. I will trust that she knows what the hell is going on and I should just play along. Lee followed me. Then the others.

Kevin said that they didnít want some big thing and were planning something with just close friends. Jessica had gone home to tell her family. He would tell his this week, they were going to go to Kentucky. He had met her family, she hadnít met his.

After our private celebration we headed back downstairs. I watched Tracie. She looked at him and he shook his head. Nope, she didnít know either. Over the course of the night I found that Brian was happy. He liked Jessica and thought it was time for his cousin to settle down. Howie thought it was fine as long as they wanted it. Nick didnít get it, but also didnít get why he didnít get it. Lee and I thought something was wrong. We were busy plotting to get Kevin and Tracie together and he gets engaged. Nope. I told Lee I didnít think Tracie knew about this either. She assured me that Tracie would know by dawn.

That I believed.

~*~Tracie~*~

Somethingís very wrong here. Kevin tells us heís engaged. Heís drunk and sheís not here. Iím a little hurt he didnít tell me first.

I gave him another hour then went after him. I expected him to avoid me. Like he had been avoiding eye contact all night with me. I was pleased when he didnít. I tapped him on the shoulder, "Ready?"

He took my hand and led me upstairs. Uh oh, a closed door conversation. "Thank you."

I sat down on the bed, "For what?"

"Blind support."

"I will always support you in front of others, even if I think your wrong. I will assume you had a reason for this group announcement?" He sat beside me.

"I counted on you to make it ok. Youíd say "congratulations" and the others would assume all was well. I didnít talk to you first because I didnít want you to have to lie."

"Kevin? What the hell is going on?"

He laid down on his bed, "Jessica is pregnant."

I laid down next to him. I searched the ceiling a few seconds, then said questioningly, "Congratulations?" Bad friend Tracie was thinking Ďare you sure sheís pregnant and is it yoursí.

He laughed, "I guess so. Iím gonna be a dad. Iíve always wanted to be a dad. I always thought Iíd be happier about it though."

I was going to ask the question, "And why arenít you?"

"Because Iím not in love with my kidís mother, and was planning on breaking up with her. Instead I end up proposing. How fucked up is that? What a way to start a marriage."

I knew exactly what he was doing. He was being responsible. He was always responsible. I respected that. I thought he was wrong, but I respected that. "You donít have to marry her."

He laughed again, "What should I do, Tracie?"

"Do you want what I think or what I know you will do?"

"Both, please." He was hurting. He reached for my hand.

I took his hand and kissed it, "I think you will be a wonderful dad whether or not you marry her. You would stay involved and be part of the childís life. He would never want for anything, and neither would Jessica. You would do more than take care of them." I rolled to my side where I could look in his eyes, "You will marry her even though you arenít in love with her. Youíre thinking that you do Ďloveí her, and even though itís not all fireworks, you two made a child and it deserves both of itís parents. With your upbringing and what you really want itís the Ďrightí thing to do. I think that youíre wrong. A child deserves itís parents to show it what love is, not some imitation. I hate to see you give up on the real thing. But you will marry her, you will be supportive, and you will be happy. Just not overjoyed. It will kill me to watch you not be overjoyed."

This time I got to hold him while he cried. I cried too.

"I was trying to get drunk enough to pass out. But I canít get away from this."

We had moved up to the pillows and were curled up on our sides facing each other, "Of course not."

"You really think itís wrong to marry her."

I thought for half a second, "Yep, I would hate it that a man was marrying me just because I was pregnant."

"Youíre not Jessica. She knows Iím not in love with her. She even told me she knew I wasnít in love with her, but would be a good husband and father."

"She is right. You will be a good husband and an excellent father." I truly believed he would be an excellent husband, but not to her.

He scootched over and I put my arm around him, "I am excited about the baby. Jeez, Tracie, Iím gonna be a dad." We were both quiet, letting this reality sink in. "Weíre going to have a very small ceremony, just friends. Nothing fancy at all. Will you stand up for me?"

"Of course." And I would be there for him no matter what.

"Trace, I need you." He never looked up, just kept his head on my shoulder. "I know that youíre right, but I donít think I could stand myself if I didnít do this. This is one of those times when the right thing kind of sucks."

"Kevin, if you feel this bad, why are you doing it? Donít answer me itís just a rhetorical question." What the hell? This is wrong.

"God, I shouldnít have drank. I was fine. Alcohol is a depressant. Bad. I promise Iím fine. She and I get along, and we have fun together. There are no problems. Just no sparks. I could do much worse." I loved his quiet resignation. Thatís a lie.

"Youíll learn to live without blow jobs."

That got him laughing, "Fuck you!"

"Nope, you canít. Youíre engaged. Besides fucking isnít the issue."

Now he looks up, "Thank you."

"Youíre welcome."

Both of us knew the guys would ask many questions. Over the next few hours we decided that he would leave the details about the baby out of it until after the ceremony. He would tell the guys that they had decided it was time, that they wanted to make a life together. He wouldnít lie about being in love with her. They did like her and there was no question that they were good together. There are many reasons for getting married and love was just one of them. Jessica was a friend who he trusted and did fine dealing with all the star bullshit. That was enough.

I knew Kevin. He would be a good husband, and he would do what he needed to be happy. I prayed that he would be able to Ďhandleí settling for less. I would do what he needed and help him however he asked. Part of that would be telling him if I started seeing him lose himself in this bargain.

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