Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Man by Willa Okati

Best Man
by Willa Okati

Cover art: Karen Fox
ISBN: 978-1-60521-751-2
Genre(s): Guilty Pleasures (Contemporary)
Theme(s): Gay and Lesbian
Length: Novella
Page Count: 49

Alexander's a man with an uncommonly happy disposition. His luck always holds true, and he takes chances with cheerful abandon. When he sees a New Year's Eve wedding running amok and a hot best man in need of help before Bridezilla goes boom, it's second nature for him to step in to lend a hand with the last-minute disasters that plague every wedding. The way Alexander sees it, he's earning good karma, winning over the adorable best man -- and he might just already be falling in love.
Best Man
Willa Okati
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2011 Willa Okati

This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.

"What's life without dreams? Without hope? Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I believe that no opportunity isn't worth taking."
"Because they always work out for you."
"I'll share my luck, if you want." Alexander cupped his hand and blew a puff of winter smoke at Shawn. "There. You're set. And, Mother? No bursting anyone's bubbles."
"It's a nice thought, Alexander, but I can't even keep a plant alive. I killed a cactus by forgetting to water it. How does someone even begin to kill a cactus?" Shawn muttered.
"That does take skill," Josephine admitted. She patted Shawn's back with one small, gloved hand. "Perennial optimism is neither better nor worse than persistent pessimism. The right one for both of you is right around the bend. Six marriages, remember? I got it wrong so many times that karma decrees you'll both get it right. Now, do hurry, would you? I will not be denied a ninety-proof holiday espresso martini."
"Hold on a minute." The noise began to clarify itself as they drew closer to the Imperial Center. Alexander stopped them. "Do you hear that?"
"I can hardly help it, though I was happy to distract myself with my gentleman escorts' conversation, but what is that commotion?" Josephine shaded her eyes to peek. "Good Lord, is that a wedding?"
Alexander tilted his head to get a better look and a listen. "I think so."
"In this weather?" Shawn nudged at a fallen chunk of icy snow. "Are they out of their minds?"
"Darling, a bride's likely involved. Insanity is a given."
Where Shawn looked dubious, Alexander's intrigue only grew. He made sure Shawn held Josephine safe and secure and took half a dozen strides forward, drinking in the details. Bunting everywhere, a caterer's van well and truly stuck in the snow, and loud, loud, loud screeching emanating from within the Imperial Center.
"Who even holds a wedding on a holiday?"
"Someone who doesn't think ahead?" Shawn suggested.
Alexander laughed. He'd seen this movie. "Bridezilla."
Josephine pointed to a harried-looking string quartet trudging through a half-broken path through the snow, identifiable only by their attempts to lug instrument cases and speakers.
Alexander would have offered to help, but there was something about the grim white lines on the faces of the quartet that told him that'd be rushing in where angels feared to tread.
"Assuredly a Bridezilla," Josephine agreed. "And one without a morsel of common sense. Do you know how long it takes to plan a wedding of this extravagance? As you've kindly pointed out, I've been there and done that, and trust me. It takes well over a year. Even if we were still enjoying a white-out storm, they'd be digging out a path for an aisle the bride could walk up."
The shrieking from within reached a pitch almost in the range that only dogs could hear. Alexander winced.
Josephine laughed. "Never actually been in the presence of a Bridezilla before, have you?"
"If that's one of them, I think I'm glad I'm gay," Shawn said.
Alexander poked him. "Civil unions, brother, and the laws are changing. One day you'll find yourself having a panic attack over lobster canapes going bad."
"Probably. I think the one screaming just now was the groom."
Josephine's shoulders shook with amusement. "Well. When all's said and done, weddings do have one thing going for them."
"Such as?"
"Slutty groomsmen?" Alexander asked, perking up.
"If a guy's lucky," Shawn agreed. "Wait, look who I'm talking to. But are they worth it?"
"I have an uncommonly happy disposition." Alexander shot his sleeves straight and stood to his fullest height, shoulders squared at their broadest. "And sure, mostly."
"Not that we'll be finding out today. Lunch awaits," Josephine said firmly.
"Of course. I --"
Alexander ceased speaking or moving. Breathing might or might not become optional.
He became vaguely aware of Josephine tapping her foot. "Darling, follow-through is a virtue." She cleared her throat. "Alexander?"
Shawn snapped his fingers by Alexander's ear.
He heard both of them. He just wasn't paying attention. Because Alexander had seen him.
He being a man of slim build, slender at the hips and satisfyingly just broad enough at the shoulders to make his masculinity clear; a good and necessary thing for a man as beautiful as he with his red lips, formerly styled and now epically mussed black waves of hair, and blue eyes now raised to the heavens in a silent why me?
Alexander dropped his arm. "Then again, I might stick around. For a few. Take a rain check on the lunch?"
"You're going to crash the wedding?"
"Yes and no," Alexander said. The beautiful man had boxes upon boxes labeled WEDDING yet to unpack. "Wait and see."
Shawn shook his head but let him go. "You're not quite right. You know that, don't you?"
* * *
If a man acted as if he belonged in any given place, people usually didn't ask questions. Alexander took the steps at an easygoing pace and casually strolled to the lovely man's side. "Need a hand?"
"I could use three, to be honest." Pretty eased a double stack of linen napery on a bare table and stretched his arms, pulling each at the wrists to release the cramped muscles. Alexander could massage those for him, but... later. "Do I know you?"
Beauty and brains. "Not in the least," Alexander replied, twinkling at him. "I was passing by and thought I'd see if Good Samaritans were still in style."
Pretty rubbed his arms as he gave Alexander a once-over of bemusement and perhaps a bit of appreciation. "At least you're honest. If you promise not to take off with a box of table favors or hit on one of the bridesmaids, then be my guest. I'm serious about the bridesmaids. I love my sister -- the bride -- but if one more thing sends her off the deep end --"
Alexander laughed. "Don't worry. About the bride or the bridesmaids." He winked. "They aren't what caught my eye."
"Is that a fact?" Pretty's cheeks turning faintly pink, and the appearance of a small smile gave him away. "That makes two of us."
"You're honest, too. And beautiful."
The pink darkened to crimson. "And you're a flatterer." That would have been worrisome if he hadn't grinned at him and pushed one-half of the napery Alexander's way. "If you're sure you want to get involved in the madness... then you can be my guest."
"You can trust me," Alexander said, ripe with confidence. "Watch." He took the top cloth off the stack and gave it a good snap, meant to send a long cloth billowing out.
It would have been more impressive if said cloth hadn't turned out to be a dinner napkin.
Pretty burst into laughter. "I have to keep you now. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I turned you out to wreak havoc on general society." His cheeks remained pink and his blue eyes lambent. He offered his hand. "Noah McMasters. Call me Noah."
Alexander took Noah's hand. A very nice hand it was, too, slim and smooth but firm. "Alexander."
A hint of dimples enriched Noah's smile. "Just Alexander?"
"I have a surname, but I'll make you work for that one." Alexander winked at Noah -- the name fit him as well as a tailored glove, small and lovely -- and draped the napkin over his arm. He clicked his heels together and bowed from the waist. "Right now, I await your command. Tell me what you want from me and I'm yours."

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