Tristan knows he and his ex-boyfriend Stuart were not meant to be, but that doesn’t make the invitation to Stuart’s wedding any less of a punch in the face. Tris decides that the only thing for it is to find a super hot date to prove to Stuart that he’s moved on and is doing just fine, thanks.
The path to the altar is fraught with obstacles, however, and Tris has to deal with the wilds of online dating, wardrobe malfunctions, men who look like pirates, emotional baggage, grooms with cold feet, and sports team rivalries before he even gets to the wedding. But when Tris stumbles on love in the last place he expects, he’ll need to let go of the past in order to move forward.
I knew I was being dramatic.
Okay, I was weeping copiously, my tears spilling on the bar.
“So what I hear you saying,” said Kevin from his perch behind the bar, “is that you want me to pour you a drink.”
“You don’t think he’s had enough?” asked Darren.
“He hasn’t had any.”
“Oh.” Darren shifted on the stool next to me. “That bad, huh? What happened, Tris?”
I was too blubbery to speak, so I pulled the invitation from my coat pocket and handed it to Darren, figuring we’d been friends long enough that he’d understand.
He read it aloud. “Blah-blah, some people I don’t know ‘request your presence at the wedding of Stuart Harker and Roger Stone…’”
There was a pause, although I couldn’t see what Darren was doing through my fingers, given that they were pressed firmly against my eyes.
“Wait, Stuart Harker? As in your ex-boyfriend Stuart?”
“Yes,” I said, the word sounding watery. “His parents request my presence to witness the wedded bliss between their son and the asshole he met less than a year ago.”
“That’s cold, man,” said Darren.
“Ten years of my life! I was with Stuart for ten years! Then we break up, and he marries the first random piece of ass who comes along.”
When I looked up, Kevin and Darren were exchanging glances.
“Maybe Tristan shouldn’t drink,” Darren said.
Kevin poured me a gin and tonic anyway, top-shelf gin and everything, and slid it toward me. “On the house, buddy,” he said. I took a grateful sip.
The thing was, I had known the invitation was coming. Stuart had called me several weeks before to say, basically, I want you to come to the wedding. Like an idiot, I’d said, “Oh, sure, I’d love to,” because Stuart and I were friends, right? It had been more than two years since Stuart had gotten that job in Boston and decided it was more important than his relationship with me. Well, okay, he’d asked me to move to Boston, but how could I ever leave New York? Honestly, it was probably for the best, because we were both more concerned with geography than each other, and that was really the writing on the wall. Ten years is a long time to be together and also a long time to grow apart.
So it was an amicable breakup. I have often found that this is a euphemism for blood and destruction that gets swept away with the hope that the couple will reunite, but it was true here. I sincerely wished Stuart the best in his future endeavors. We’d kept up with each other since the breakup and still got along pretty well.
But man, him telling me about meeting this awesome guy named Roger sure was a dagger to the heart. And not only because I’d been single since he’d moved out.
I drank more gin.
“Are you going to the wedding?” Darren asked. He ran a hand through his dark blond hair, something I knew to be a nervous tic of his, although his facial expression was neutral. I couldn’t figure out if he was concerned for me or nervous for some other reason.
I still hadn’t decided if I was going. “It seems like a bad idea.”
Darren handed me back the invitation. He squirmed a little, like this whole conversation was making him uncomfortable. I wondered why that was until I considered that this was probably not the crowd to talk about my feelings with. I loved my friends from my old rugby team, but they were emotionally repressed macho straight guys, every last one of them. Darren was the worst of them, closed off and stoic, the sort of guy who didn’t like to stir the pot or cause a fuss. In fact, I don’t think I’d ever even heard him express a strong opinion about anything other than sports.
“You know what you could do?” Kevin said.
“Hmm?” I asked, noticing with some horror that my glass was empty. I slid it back toward Kevin.
“You could go but bring a hot date.”
I paused to picture myself strolling into some flowery reception hall with a really hot guy on my arm and showing up Stuart. I hadn’t met Roger, but I’d seen the engagement photos online. I judged him to be only okay looking, which was what made the whole thing even more baffling. Roger was bald and, in the photos, had gold hoops in both ears, which had the effect of making him look an eye patch and a parrot short of being a pirate. It was ridiculous.
Okay, so maybe I wasn’t as over Stuart as I thought.
“The idea has merit,” I said. “Although it seems petty and vindictive to take a hot guy to a wedding for the sole purpose of making one of the grooms jealous.”
“That’s not what you’re doing,” Kevin said. “You’re attending the wedding of your friend, and you will happen to have a hot date. After you put up with a lot of boring small talk with Stuart’s friends and relatives, you go back to your hotel and have hot sex.”
I considered. “This is a fair point.” I pictured Stuart’s father. He had never liked me much, but then he was a very conservative man. I almost felt bad for Roger. Stuart’s mother had liked me well enough and continued to e-mail me regularly for a while after Stuart ditched me for Red Sox Nation. How unpleasant would it be to make small talk with Stuart’s parents? Probably very unpleasant. On the other hand, I’d have a hot date I could parade around the room and then fuck afterward, which had some potential as an idea. “I will think about this.”
“It’s only petty and vindictive if you try to ruin the wedding or win Stuart back.”
“I don’t want Stuart back.”
“If he wants you at the wedding, go. You’re allowed a plus one, right?”
I looked at the invitation. I did indeed have a space on the reply card to indicate I was bringing a guest. That was nice of Stuart. “Yeah,” I said. “Okay. This is a reasonable plan. Now all I need is a hot date.” I looked hopefully at Kevin.
“Can’t help you there, buddy.”