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    Superpride
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Best Men - 2. Chapter Two

I watched as Beth tackled the tower of presents given to her as everyone else surrounded the bride-to-be. Literally an hour passed, and she only unwrapped one-third of the presents that consisted mostly of kitchenware like expensive china and the latest kitchen appliances. I had to chuckle at the third blender she received and her feigning excitement. I also thought these presents were humorous since anyone who knew Beth at all understood that she was a terrible cook, her cooking skills only extending to preparing a pack of ramen noodles without causing a kitchen fire.

I also felt saddened by these presents since the guests who wrapped them clearly didn’t know who Beth was and what her interest lied. To be frank, aside from the few familiar faces back from high school, I didn’t recognize most of the people here. I could assume that these people were related to or had some kind of connection with her fiancé and his family. This guess was only made more plausible by their fancier attire which made what I was wearing looked like I scavenged these clothes from the local thrift store. And the fact they were all calling Beth by her full name was also a giveaway that these people weren’t close to her at all.

After Beth unwrapped a juicer, I was starting to zone out when she finally grabbed my present for her that was wrapped so poorly compared to everyone else’s. She looked at me, knowing that this present was from me, and smiled before gently tearing away the wrapping paper. I was on edge as I watched her pull back the remaining wrapping paper and revealing what was inside. For a week, I was desperately searching for the perfect present for her, not only for her engagement party, but also for our years of friendship. I also wanted it to be a way to make up for what I did to her five years ago.

I bit my lower lip as Beth held in both hands a very rare and highly sought-after collector’s doll that was still in its original mint packaging. She didn’t say anything at first, and I feared that giving her a doll was a huge mistake. She was an avid doll collector when we were growing up, but maybe that completely changed after five years. But then Beth covered her mouth and looked back at me, her eyes expressing happiness. My body relaxed immediately, and I smiled back as Beth giggled in excitement.

“Beth. What’s the present?” Beth’s mother asked.

“It’s a Beckie doll, Mom! The one I’ve been searching for to complete my collection.” Hugging my present close to her chest, she then said to me, “How did you find it?”

I just shrugged and said, “It wasn’t easy, but I was able to find it at an antique store at an obscure part of Brooklyn. The things you’ll find while walking around New York City.”

Beth sprang from her seat and hugged me again with the same strength as before. “That’s so thoughtful of you, Rick! Thank you so much!”

Beth soon walked back to her seat, a bounce in her steps and a brightness in her face that I knew I was the cause of.

I heard someone scoff right behind me, and I jumped before turning around and seeing Freddy. He had his arms crossed and at what appeared to be an annoyed expression on his rugged face.

“A doll? You gave her a doll?” Freddy said.

“Yeah…I did. What’s wrong with it?” I asked.

Freddy shook his head. “It’s not just a doll that you gave her; she has been searching for a good deal on that one in particular for years… How did you know about that?”

“I didn’t… I mean all that matters is that it’s better a juicer which is just fancy blender if you ask me.”

Freddy just grunted in response before gulping down the rest of his wine. “I gave her that juicer.”

I quickly face away from Freddy, not wanting to aggravate him further. I instead focused my attention back to Beth who was talking with the chef.

She then rose from her seat and announced, “Everyone! I’ve just been told that dinner is ready. Let’s eat, and we’ll resume opening the rest of the presents right after.”

All the guests started moving out of the living room and towards the backyard where the dinner was most likely taking place. I checked my phone and saw a couple of text messages from my mother surprisingly, asking me to call her later today.

“Liza. Can we talk for a moment?”

I looked up from my phone and saw that only Freddy and Beth remained in the living room along with me.

“Sure. What’s up?” Beth asked.

Freddy opened his mouth, but then he saw me and said, “Uh, can you give us some privacy, please?”

“No, you can stay, Rick. Whatever my brother has to say you can hear as well,” Beth said. “Well, Freddy, what do you want to talk about?”

Freddy sighed heavily. “All right. How about we start with the fact that you told me a week ago that you wanted me to be the best man of your wedding.”

I looked at Beth who continued to look casually at her older brother and didn’t look like she about to pop a vein.

“And your ex-boyfriend here told me an hour ago that he’s the best man instead. So, either he’s lying, Beth, or you’re not being completely truthful here.”

Beth was silent for a moment, but then she raised her hands and said, “All right. Fine. You caught me. I asked both of you to be the best man of my wedding.”

“And…have you made your decision?” Freddy asked.

“Okay, let me rephrase what I just said… Because I can’t decide between the two of you, I want both of you to be the best man of my wedding. At the same time…so technically there will be two best men.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Are you kidding me, Sis? You can’t decide between your ex-boyfriend and your brother who you’ve known since the day the you were born, so you decided to copout and make us both the best man?”

“I’m not copping out. I just thought it would be nice to have two best men instead of just one. Simple as that,” Beth said with crossed arms.

“No, that’s not how it works. There’s only one best man, while the rest are the groomsmen,” Freddy stated.

“Who said?”

“Said… I don’t know! That’s just how it’s been for a very long time and that shouldn’t change just because you can’t make up from mind.”

“I never took you to be a traditionalist, Freddy,” Beth quipped.

Freddy just cocked his head back and sighed in frustration.

Stepping in, I said, “Hey, look. I’m okay with just being one of the groomsmen instead if that means Freddy will be the only best man.”

“No, Rick. You have to be the best man, along with my brother,” Beth insisted.

“Oh, what difference does it make. It’s just a title,” Freddy retorted.

Turning to her brother, Beth said, “Fine. Then you can be the maid of honor instead. I hope you like the color purple.”

Freddy grunted, and he then aimed his narrow eyes at me before saying, “All right. Fine. If that’s what you want, I’ll accept it. You’re the bride after all.”

Beth’s posture relaxed. “Thank you, Freddy… And hey, you two being the best men gives you both the opportunity to connect and be friends.”

Freddy snickered. “Yeah, not a chance. I’d rather get shot while on duty.”

“Oh, come on. Don’t say that. Let’s just go out back and enjoy the dinner that the chef and his team prepared for us.”

Beth hooked her arm with Freddy’s and motioned her head for me to follow her. What I didn’t expect was her hooking other arm to mine as well before guiding us to the dinner scene. Her brother on one side and her former boyfriend on the other, we awkwardly walked onto the backyard where a few long, clothed tables were set with everyone already sitting and enjoying their food. The food came from a large, round table at the center; a literal buffet which served various cuisines from the traditional turkey to even ethnic foods from Japanese sushi to Filipino eggrolls.

Overall, the dinner was fantastic. I was able to have a bite of every type of food available and was able to converse with Beth for the majority of the dinner. Freddy decided to eat his food by a large, three-tiered fountain instead. His rough demeanor seemed to have attracted some of the female guests who joined him. I got glimpses of the women laughing at whatever Freddy said, and a part of me wished I was one of those women who could casually sit next to him and listen to what he had to say. However, it was very obvious that he didn’t like me or had any interest in getting to know me. He seemed to hold plenty of animosity towards me even though I barely interacted with the person who moved away after my freshman year in high school.

The only reason I could conjure up was that Beth eventually told her brother about why I ended our relationship. Because I, Rick who was born and raised in Bennett, Ohio, was gay. If that was reason for his cold, confrontational attitude towards me, then I shouldn’t have been surprised. Just like his mother, Freddy also adopted a negative view of gay people, and like he said, he would rather get shot than spend even one moment with me. It was a shame since regardless of how handsome he was, homophobic behavior was always a major turnoff. With that said, why am I still sneaking quick glances at the man who was slouched over in a brooding state which made him look even more attractive?

“Are you feeling okay, Rick?”

I swerved back to see Beth looking at me with curiosity in her brown eyes. “Yeah… I mean…can I ask you a question? About you brother?”

“Shoot.”

Stealing one more glance at Freddy’s direction, I asked, “What’s his deal? He seems like he has a huge chip on his shoulder.”

“Oh, he’s always like that… Well, more like ever since we moved to Beckett when I was fourteen and Freddy was eighteen. The move was difficult, especially for my brother since he had to abandon all of his friends from our hometown and start senior year at a completely new school. He also had to leave someone who he had been seeing for close to five years. They tried to make it work, but they eventually broke up, and Freddy stayed in his bedroom most days after that. He would’ve failed his senior year if it wasn’t for his guidance counselor persuading him to attend his classes. After that, he went to community college to study Criminal Justice before dropping out after one semester. He worked several odd jobs for few years until he joined the police force. He then moved back to our hometown, visiting Beckett every month or so.

I nodded. “So, you’re saying that returning to Beckett always brings out bad memories of having to leave his friends and lover behind, and that’s why he acts this way.”

“Pretty much. So, don’t take it personally,” Beth advised.

“I’ll try not to. However, he seems to have a vendetta against me. Does he know that I’m gay?”

Beth quickly shook her head. “No way. I promised to keep that a secret and I have. And even if he knew you were gay, he’s not the kind of person to judge someone based on the color of skin, what gender they identify as, or who they love. It just takes him awhile to warm up to new people, but when he does, he’ll do anything to protect you when you get hurt.”

“So, does that include breaking his sister’s heart?” I asked hesitantly.

Beth tapped her chin with her finger, seemingly in thought before saying, “You can say that. However, I moved on years ago and forgiven you.”

“You…You forgave me?”

“Of course, I did, silly! Otherwise, why would you be here?” Beth shook her head in amusement. “Come on, Rick, I’m better than to hold five-year-old grudges, don’t you think?”

“Oh, I didn’t mean to say—”

“Relax, Rick. We’ve been friends longer than we were lovers, and like my brother, I always look after the people I care about,” Beth confessed.

“Thank you.”

“No problem.” Looking back at her brother, Beth said, “I’ll try to talk to Freddy later today, and I’ll ask him to lower his guard towards you. I can’t guarantee that’ll automatically work, but it’ll be a start.”

I stepped forward and gave Beth, my good friend, a hug, which she returned. “I appreciate it.”

“Anything for the best man.”

I chuckled and stepped back, feeling much lighter. I then turned to see a man standing only a few feet away, wearing perfectly tailored clothing and furrowed eyebrows.

“Aaron! There you are!” Beth said with elation, approaching the man and kissing him.

I could safely assume that this well-dressed man was Beth’s fiancé. He was definitely good looking with his classical handsome features of his face that softened upon Beth’s display of affection.

“I was wondering when you’d show,” Beth said, brushing a strand of auburn hair from her fiancé’s forehead.

“I’m sorry about that. I had to talk to several of my father’s men about a new project, and it took much longer than expected,” Aaron explained.

“That’s okay. I’m just glad you’re here now. Oh! I want you to meet someone.” Guiding her fiancé to my location, Beth continued by saying, “I don’t think you two met before. Aaron, this is Rick. Rick, this is my fiancé, Aaron.”

Aaron was the first one to extend his hand, which I shook firmly. “Great to finally meet you, Rick. Beth had only positive things to say about you. So, it only makes sense that you’ll be one of the best men.”

“The other best man is by the fountain. Come on, I’ll introduce you to my brother,” Beth said before guiding him.

Aaron gave me a curt nod before walking away. He seemed nice enough; he definitely had an aura of swagger and confidence from the way he was immaculately dressed to the smooth way he talked. Beth was a very lucky woman, and I hoped only the best for her.

“Aren’t they just the perfect couple!”

I turned to see Beth’s mother who had her hands clasped together. “Yeah. They do.”

“I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but sometimes I wished you two stayed together and that this engagement party was for the both of you instead.”

I glanced away and said, “Yeah…well, things change, and seems now that Beth found someone even better.”

Beth’s mother just nodded. “Oh, by the way. Do you know where you’re staying, while you’re here? Please, don’t tell me you still plan on renting a room at O’Leary’s.”

“Well, do you have any recommended places for me to stay instead?” I asked, trying to hide the bitterness in my question.

“There’s always our home.”

“Oh, no. I can’t ask you to do that.”

“You’re not asking, I’m offering. You can stay in Freddy’s old room, rent free and three-course meals every day. You’ve always been considered another member of the family even before you started dating my daughter.” Patting my shoulder, she then said, “I’ll give you some time to let that marinate. Just come back to me when you’ve made your decision.”

Beth’s mother then sashayed her way to the buffet, and I was left wondering if I should take that offer. I really didn’t mind spending my money at the bed and breakfast, that is if I had enough money to begin with. Thinking about it for a few minutes, I then made my decision. I just hoped this wasn’t something I would regret.

Copyright © 2019 Superpride; All Rights Reserved.
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The story is interesting but you need to do some vert careful editing. There are a couple of places where the story or the dialogue does not follow. Try reading it aloud to yourself.

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1 minute ago, starboardtack said:

The story is interesting but you need to do some vert careful editing. There are a couple of places where the story or the dialogue does not follow. Try reading it aloud to yourself.

Thanks for the comment and advice. I use a feature on Microsoft Word called "Read Aloud," which helps me catch typos, but reading it aloud to myself sounds like a better solution to see whether the dialogue and story flows and makes sense.

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1 minute ago, Kapucinski said:

This story is coming along nicely, even al little cliffhanger! 

 

Thank you! My other stories also follow the trend of having cliffhangers, which I hope isn't too annoying. I guess that just my forte haha.

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Freddy may have a deep secret of his own. Is Beth's two best men plan a design to hook the two of the m up?

I wonder which lodging option Rick has chosen?

Edited by drpaladin
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2 minutes ago, drpaladin said:

Freddy may have a deep secret of his own. Is Beth's two best men pan a design to hook the two of the m up?

I wonder which lodging option Rick has chosen?

It also appears that Beth is holding something back from Rick, which is understandable since Freddy should be the one to reveal his personal information, in my opinion. Also, whether Rick chooses the bed and breakfast or accepts Beth's mother's offer instead, there's going to be conflict.

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Excellent chapter I foresee fireworks between the two of them, Interesting times ahead no doubt

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3 hours ago, mikedup said:

Excellent chapter I foresee fireworks between the two of them, Interesting times ahead no doubt

Yeah, those fireworks will take plenty of preparation, but when they’re ready, it’ll certainly be a show worth seeing!

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2 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

My first impression of Freddy was not favorable, my second didn't really help. In my opinion mother needs to butt out of people's business! This chapter reveals why gift registries are important! Wonder what his mother wanted...

Hopefully, Freddy’s thick, rough shell will eventually crack and allow people like Rick to see who he really is. Beth certainly believes her older brother isn’t as vicious as he appears. Also, the mother is definitely a gossiper whose mouth is going to lead to conflict undoubtedly. And I’m sure Beth is screaming inside after receiving three blenders and a juicer haha.

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12 minutes ago, Paqman said:

Rick can have Freddy's room. How does Freddy feel about that, and where's he staying?

I doubt that Freddy will freely offer his bedroom away, especially to Rick. These questions will be answered soon in the following chapters. Thanks for commenting!

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Beth is a paragon of absolute forgiveness and love.

She forgave her boyfriend for breaking up with her; My issue with Rick is not that he broke up with her for being gay, it was the timing-who wants to look back on their high school graduation and remember something like that?!?!  I’m also aware that just hearing what happened doesn’t convey whether this was done by surprise or if there were hints of problems in their relationship;  Beth not only forgave Rick but also chose to make him a member of her wedding party....clearly in an attempt to play matchmaker for her ex-boyfriend and her brother;  She worked through her issues and put this plan into motion because she wants the best for two people she loves.  That she is this way with the parents she has and the environment she grew up in is laudable.  I hope Aaron is worthy of her.

It’ll be interesting to see where Rick (and Freddy for that matter) will be staying.

Good chapter.

Edited by FanLit
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3 hours ago, FanLit said:

Beth is a paragon of absolute forgiveness and love.

She forgave her boyfriend for breaking up with her; My issue with Rick is not that he broke up with her for being gay, it was the timing-who wants to look back on their high school graduation and remember something like that?!?!  I’m also aware that just hearing what happened doesn’t convey whether this was done by surprise or if there were hints of problems in their relationship;  Beth not only forgave Rick but also chose to make him a member of her wedding party....clearly in an attempt to play matchmaker for her ex-boyfriend and her brother;  She worked through her issues and put this plan into motion because she wants the best for two people she loves.  That she is this way with the parents she has and the environment she grew up in is laudable.  I hope Aaron is worthy of her.

It’ll be interesting to see where Rick (and Freddy for that matter) will be staying.

Good chapter.

Beth is the kind of person we should all strive to be. Rick coming out during the day of graduation was certainly ill-timed; however, like you said the reader doesn't know all the details to what led up to that event, at least not yet. Regardless, Beth is a very strong character both inside and out when considering the powerful hug she gave Rick. Playing matchmaker with her ex-boyfriend and older brother is going to be difficult based on the few tense interactions they had, but hopefully her plans come to fruition if that is her intent. Aaron is a very lucky man to be Beth's future husband, but only time will tell if they're truly compatible. Also, where the two men will be staying will indeed be interesting to discover. Thank you very much for your comment! 😄

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Filipino ‘Eggrolls.’ Lumpia? The tasty Filipino party finger food!

I was notorious among my Filipino friends for loving Lumpias. I was visiting one friend when her mother and sister were making them. Her mother was under the impression that I had an eidetic memory or something and was telling me how she prepared them. I’d have loved to learn how to make them, but it’s a really time-consuming process.

I helped my mother assemble won tons several times. I’ve heard about how much work it is to make tamales by hand. So many foods I love that take way too much time to make!
;–)

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Is Beth’s mother under the misconception that Rick can somehow ‘straighten up’ her son if she has them sharing a bed together?
;–)

Edited by droughtquake
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1 hour ago, droughtquake said:

Filipino ‘Eggrolls.’ Lumpia? The tasty Filipino party finger food!

I was notorious among my Filipino friends for loving Lumpias. I was visiting one friend when her mother and sister were making them. Her mother was under the impression that I had an eidetic memory or something and was telling me how she prepared them. I’d have loved to learn how to make them, but it’s a really time-consuming process.

I helped my mother assemble won tons several times. I’ve heard about how much work it is to make tamales by hand. So many foods I love that take way too much time to make!
;–)

It's definitely lumpia! I'm Filipino, so I love inserting cultural aspects of the Philippines into my stories. Glad to see that small detail captured your attention. 😊

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1 hour ago, droughtquake said:

Is Beth’s mother under the misconception that Rick can somehow ‘straighten up’ her son if she as them sharing a bed together?
;–)

I don't think that's the case, but it would be an interesting predicament haha!

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and what her interest lied -- and with what her interests lay.

Yes there are several grammatical errors in this chapter, but they are not overwhelming and only serve to indicate that American English is not the author'e 'milk language'.

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On 4/9/2020 at 9:05 AM, Will Hawkins said:

and what her interest lied -- and with what her interests lay.

Yes there are several grammatical errors in this chapter, but they are not overwhelming and only serve to indicate that American English is not the author'e 'milk language'.

I actually had a college course that pointed out this specific grammatical issue with lay versus lie. Thanks for pointing that out. 

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On 7/24/2020 at 4:54 PM, Danilo Syrtis said:

lol great sense of humor, i like that a lot !  👍

excellent chapter ❤️

Believe it or not, I tend to not notice the humor I write into my story, so thank you for pointing that out!

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