The Best Man
Romantic Fiction/ Standalone
I always turn up at just the wrong moment. I never know how to make the most of a situation; I don’t know the right thing to say, or when I should come or go. Let’s just say I have really shit timing.
I’m not a smart guy. I don’t have great ideas. I’m practical, a hard worker; someone who lives for his family, and for the air that she breathes.
It’s just a shame that the “she” in question never knew this. It’s a shame that I waited all these years to make my move. It’s useless to tell you, readers, that it was already too late; that I’d screwed everything up, once again. And, this time, my mistakes forced her to come home.
Except she didn’t want to stay.
And now she hates me – or maybe she doesn’t. I still haven’t worked out what’s going on between us, but like I said, I’m not the sharpest tool in the box. And even though this could be my last chance, I’m not going to be the one to ask her to stay. Not even if she turns out to be the one I’ve always waited for.
Because she doesn’t belong in this place.
And she doesn’t belong in my life.
My name is Alex Brennan, and this is my story: of how I realised I’d lost the most important person in my life, before I even had her.
EXCERPT ~ CHAPTER 1
I’ve made my decision: I’m doing it.
Someone needs to put a stop to this, and if destiny – or fate, or sheer terrible luck – has chosen me, then I’m ready to give it my all, and accept the consequences. I just need to wait for the right time: the moment he asks that fateful question. Then I can go ahead, and…
I’m going to die, whether it’s from anxiety, or a heart attack. And if neither of those things kill me, then Chase definitely will – or his dad. Or her dad. Or my grandfather, or all three families. Either way, it’s going to end badly for me. But I already knew that, right? Didn’t I turn up here in my best suit, a dazzling smile plastered across my face, just to knock out the lives of three families in one fell swoop?
I’ve thought about it all morning. I tried to tell myself that it’s none of my business; that I shouldn’t care why they’ve chosen to ruin their lives, to go along with this charade.
It’s not my problem. Right?
Well, actually, it is.
The problem is that, now, it really is my fucking problem, because they’ve made it my problem. And judging by how things seem to be going, neither of them seem to want to solve it.
Okay, guys. I’ll take care of it. I’ll put everything back in place, seeing as none of you seem to be able to find your balls, even though, of everyone who’s involved, I’m the one who’s risking the most. And I’m not just talking about my handsome face – which I’ll definitely keep protected. I’m talking about something way more important, which will weigh down on anyone who counts on me.
I quickly turn my gaze towards the guests, before letting my eyes land on Justin, sitting between my mother and my grandfather. He’s impatiently trying to wriggle away before they can adjust his tie, again. I almost have second thoughts.
Is it really that selfish of me to go through with this? To try to get what I want, just once, without worrying about what could happen?
Justin realises I’m staring at him, rolling his eyes, before miming throwing up; I force myself to flash him the smile he’s expecting, despite wanting to vomit all over the floor myself. Without faking it. I can almost feel all the whiskey I’ve drunk last night gushing back up my throat. I try to keep it down, shivering in disgust, before wiping my clammy hands on my well-tailored trousers. I suddenly remember to breathe, panting to try and keep myself from collapsing, before turning my attention back to them.
I watch them hold hands, stare into each other’s eyes, ready to swear their eternal love, trust, and all the other bullshit that follows, and…
Let’s not kid ourselves.
Why the fuck should I care about him? He barely even exists to me.
I only have eyes for her, because she’s the only thing worth looking at. And I don’t just mean today. I mean every day that I’ve pushed into the past, all the days she stole from me and the days I stole from her. Every day someone else looked at her, and every day that I’ve wasted up until now.
All the days that I want back.
She’s nibbling at her deep, red lips, attempting to hide a nervous smile; her light skin, her proud spattering of freckles peering out from underneath all the makeup she’s wearing today, which, like her, can’t be hidden; that unruly tendril of hair, escaped from its complex updo, as rebellious as the head it tumbles from, that brushes lightly against her bare shoulder.
Her bare shoulder.
The softness of her skin.
That forbidden scent.
The memories of last night are flooding back to me, interrupting my thoughts.
I watch her again, my world crumbling around me; she was the one to uproot my life, to show me the other side. The one to make me believe that I could achieve anything.
And now she’s ready to cross that line with someone else. Ready to make her promise.
Or, should I say, she’s ready to tell that lie. Because this promise is all crap – the biggest load of crap in the history of crap. Neither of them are what they seem, and neither of them should be up there.
If I doubted it before, I’m certain of it now.
I can’t let her do this.
“You okay, mate?” Reid asks from next to me, elbowing me gently.
“You don’t look it. Are you about to pass out?”
I won’t. But I know that someone here will.
“Can you two shut up?” Shane interjects. “What the fuck could you possibly need to talk about right now?”
“He looked weird.”
“He always looks weird,” Shane declares, putting his brother back into his place.
Someone clears their throat, and we fall silent again. I listen to my hammering heart, ricocheting around my body, so loud and so unmistakeable that I can’t seem to calm it down, before it launches itself into the abyss.
The words I’ve been waiting for echo finally around the room. “If anyone here knows of any reason why these two should not be married…” I gather my courage and step forward to meet my destiny, hoping that, somehow, her own destiny can come out of this intact.