Ben Maybry is dissatisfied with life. His best friends Royce and Rodney have been in wedded bliss for years, and Ben feels left behind. Taking some time off from work to get his head together, Ben housesits while his best buddies go on a second honeymoon to Mexico. While he’s there, his best friend’s ex Thad Zandershows up at the front door, and turns his life upside down.
Ben isn’t sure who's more shocked at the encounter, but he finds himself strangely drawn to Thad, a recovering alcoholic who hit rock bottom and is trying to get his life back. But Thad doesn’t feel he’s dating material.
In this follow-up story to J.D. Walker’s hugely popular The Best Man for Me, it’s up to Ben to convince Thad he's paid his dues and is worthy of being loved.
“Come on,” I said, gesturing outside. “Walk with me over to the park and the merry-go-rounds.” Thad caught up to me and we strolled side by side, wandering around and watching as people participated in rides and games.
Thad and I brushed arms as we sauntered along, just enjoying each other’s company and the hot afternoon. Much later, we bought some hotdogs from a vendor and had popsicles for dessert. It was wonderful.
“Show me your place?” I asked as we leaned against a rail to watch the sun go down.
“You really want to see it?”
“Absolutely. It would be the perfect end to our day, I think.” I smiled at him and nudged his shoulder. “Come on. Show me.”
“Fine, okay.” Tentatively, he reached out and took my hand. I relished the feel of his fingers against mine and squeezed.
We walked like that back to his place, meandering along with the crowd. Thad’s home was on the third floor of an older apartment building. We passed a few senior citizens sitting in what appeared to be an entertainment room.
Thad and I walked up the steps instead of taking the elevator. Once we got to his door, Thad unlocked it and ushered me inside. Spartan was one way of describing the space. There was no TV or stereo. A pile of books were stacked in a neat pile on the small, scarred table in front of a shabby old couch, and a netbook lay on a table in the tiny kitchen. A loveseat was near the window. No pictures graced the walls. That made me sad.
“Small, isn’t it?” he said, coming to stand next to me.
“Yes. But you like it?” I turned around in a tight circle, the better to take it all in, not that there was much to see.
“It’s what I can afford right now, so I make do. The bedroom isn’t so bad. I managed to put a queen size bed in there. It makes a tight fit, but I couldn’t sleep on a full or double mattress.”
“Yeah.” I sat on the loveseat and gestured to his book pile. “Tell me about what you’re reading.”
“Catching up on the classics I ignored in high school and barely stomached in college. I’m working my way through Last of the Mohicans. It’s rough going.”
I laughed. “Yeah. It gets better toward the end, though. More action, less long winded descriptions of nature.”
“Good to know, since I was about to give up on it.” He wandered into the kitchen. “Care for coffee?”
He boiled some water and brought two cups over to where I sat a little while later. “Thanks,” I said as I took a mug.
Thad sat on the couch with his own steaming brew. “You’re going back tomorrow morning, huh?”
“Yeah, though I’m not sure what I’ll do with the rest of the time I have left before returning to work.”
“You know,” he said, “the museum here is looking for a new fundraising director. I overheard one of the staff talking one afternoon while I was checking out the car exhibit. I don’t know how much it pays, but you said you felt restless. Not that I’m asking you to move here or anything. I mean, we just reconnected and ... shit.” He was babbling. It was cute.
I smiled. “It’s something to think about.”
“Yeah.” I sat there, sipping my coffee and watching Thad watch me. “Were you serious when you said you’d be interested in someone like me?” he asked.
“If I said I’d like to, maybe, try something with you, would that ...”
I grinned. “It would.”
He rushed on. “If it doesn’t work out, um, you know, that’s okay. I mean, you live far away anyhow, and I’m not much of a prize, so ...”
“Stop talking.” I set my cup on the floor by the chair and stood. “I guess I need to show you I mean what I say, huh?”