Things have gotten bumpy on the cruise for Marshall and Lee, but maybe they'll get better, now that the real culprit has been apprehended. Find out in this week's episode of Moving Forward. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they've been up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!
Moving Forward #47 (11.2)
Marshall ached all over. His head hurt from where Cody’d pounded it against the floor, but the pain had been reduced to a dull throb thanks to the ship’s doctor, who’d given him something to take the edge off. Other than that, he’d been declared fit and free to go, so Lee took him back to their cabin.
The security officer had handcuffed Cody and taken him away as he disbursed the curious onlookers. He said he’d get their statements later. Now Lee and Marshall were sitting on their deck, along with Denver and Dustin. Roger and Kenny had made sure everyone was good before returning to Roger’s cabin across the hall.
Marshall wanted a drink, but Lee said not with the pills he’d taken. Weighing his desire for alcohol against losing his headache, Marshall was forced to agree with him. He settled for sitting on Lee’s lap, allowing Lee to baby him. He relaxed in Lee’s loving embrace. Everything was over. Nothing to worry about anymore. Closing his eyes for just a second, he felt himself begin to doze off. He roused himself enough to pay attention to the conversation at hand.
“I want to apologize for how I’ve been acting,” Dustin was saying. “I know I was an asshole, and I don’t have any excuse for it. It’s my fault Marshall got hurt, although I never meant for that to happen, I swear. I didn’t know Cody was like that. But if you want me to go, I’ll understand. I won’t bother you ever again.”
Marshall turned enough to be able to see Dustin. His eyes were fixed on the floor and he seemed rather weary himself.
“I’ll agree you’ve been acting like a dick,” Lee replied, “even though Marshall told you no, more than once. And we had to have that little talk. Even so, you stepped up for him when it counted, when you could have just walked away, and I appreciate that. So I’m going to leave it up to Marshall whether he wants you to leave or not. He’s the one you’ve done wrong, it’s his decision.”
Marshall shifted slightly on Lee’s lap, facing Dustin. Dustin darted a quick glance at Marshall, then glanced away, as if afraid to meet his gaze.
“Dustin,” Marshall said, and Dustin reluctantly looked back at him. “I was pissed at you, I’ll admit, because you wouldn’t take no for an answer. I appreciated your help at Partners, but I didn’t like the way you kept coming on to me, even though I made it clear I’m with Lee and always will be. Why you thought that would change is beyond me. But when it counted, you stood up for me against that jerk Cody and I’m grateful to you for that. I think you finally got it through your thick noggin that I’m not available.” Marshall managed a small smile, to take the sting out of his words, and Dustin even chuckled. “We’ll be good if you really understand that, and if you agree to treat Lee with the respect he deserves as my partner. If you can do that, you’re welcome to stay.”
Marshall hoped this wouldn’t come back to bite him in the ass, but he wasn’t a vindictive person. He didn’t hate Dustin, just the way he’d been acting. And if he was truly sorry, then maybe they could all get along again.
Dustin nodded. Rising from his chair, he approached Marshall and held out his hand toward him. “I’d like to start over, if I could,” he said.
Marshall didn’t hesitate to extend his hand and they shook. Then Dustin turned to Lee, and they also shook hands.
“Thank you both,” he said. “I’m not sure I deserve a second chance, but I’m grateful to have one. I hope that someday I’ll find something even half as good as what you two have. I mean it.”
Marshall thought he sounded sincere. He leaned back against Lee, who wrapped his arms about him, carefully.
“I hope you do too, Dustin,” Lee said.
Denver got up and joined his cousin. “I appreciate you guys giving Dustin another chance. I think we should be going, though. Marshall looks tuckered out, and I think Dustin looks worn out himself. I guess swimming can wait.”
Marshall had forgotten all about swimming. Right now, the idea of being in the pool didn’t even sound good. However, the warmth of the hot tub was another matter altogether.
Lee seemed to read his mind. “I think you’re right. We’ll catch up with you later. I think we’re going to stay in tonight. How do you feel about that, Marshall?”
“I think that’s a great idea,” he agreed.
Denver and Dustin made their farewells, and then Marshall and Lee were alone at last. Marshall didn’t move right away. He laid his head against Lee’s chest and felt the even rise and fall of his chest.
“You doing okay?” Lee asked.
“Yeah, all things considered,” Marshall replied honestly. “Sorry about the swimming.”
“I don’t care about that. We have time for that stuff,” Lee said. “What I care about is you. I hope you realize that. You’re more important to me than anything else in the world.”
“I know, and I feel the same way ‘bout you. Just remember that, okay?”
“Why would I forget that?” Lee asked.
Marshall turned his head, meeting Lee’s eyes. “I remember you trying to tell me Dustin was more my age, do you recall?”
“I was only suggesting—”
Marshall stemmed his words with a kiss. “Don’t,” he said. “Just never think that way again. You’re stuck with me, old man. Through thick and thin.”
“Sickness and in health?” Lee quipped.
“You know it.” Marshall nodded. “How about we get in the hot tub?”
to be continued
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