Home > Hard Love (Trophy Boyfriends #3)

Hard Love (Trophy Boyfriends #3)
Author: SARA NEY


One

 

 

Tripp

 

 

My brother is getting married.

Married.

A grown man who calls himself Buzz.

Like seriously, what the fuck.

Oh, and get this—he’d only known the girl for three weeks before they got engaged.

Three.

Yeah, I didn’t stutter.

I can’t help the bitter taste rising in my throat; he didn’t even bother to deliver the news in person—he sent me a text. Well, my mother sent the text after Buzz and his fiancée told our mom and dad in person, at a dinner I wasn’t invited to.

Roast beef and potatoes with pecan pie.

Beef is my favorite and I didn’t even get any.

My fingers grip the steering wheel of my truck as I pull it into my garage, my gregarious bulldog, Chewy, hopping on his back feet at the sight of my arrival, pudgy face pressed against the screen door in the laundry room.

Chewy.

He’s the only buddy I can trust.

Unlike my backstabbing engaged brother, the dick.

I shove my truck into park, grabbing the iced coffee I stopped for on my way home from work, and shove open the driver’s side door. Hop out and tug at my jeans; they feel restrictive after having worn spandex compression shorts the past five hours. Should have gone with mesh, not denim.

Chewy continues hopping, and I’m shocked the little bastard hasn’t put a hole in the screen door because he sure as shit has dented it in about forty spots.

“Dude, chill,” I tell him, and he chills.

I’m not sure who wields more power in our relationship, myself or the dog. Probably Chewy since I hold the door open for His Majesty so he can prance out into the yard and do his business. Then I hold the door open for him again so he can prance back inside, where I’ll feed him and brush him and I am clearly his bitch.

The bag clenched in my fist gets tossed on the counter; it’s already past six in the evening and I have to arrive at my brother’s bachelor party by eight, which gives me almost two hours to eat, relax, shave, and get my ass back out the door.

I shoot Chewy an apologetic look. “Sorry bud, I have to leave again. Uncle Buzz is having a party, but Molly will swing by to play with you.”

Molly is a teenage neighbor girl I pay fifteen bucks an hour to hang with the dog. She scoops his poop and feeds him on days I’m running late or weekends I’m gone. Which, lately, is a lot.

Like my brother Buzz—who plays professional baseball when he’s not being a professional douche—I play a professional sport, too.

Football.

And right now it’s football season so I’m gone a lot; poor Chewy spends so much time with Molly I should just rehome him. I’m like the dog dad he never gets to see unless it’s summer break. Summer camps and spring training take far less of a toll than fall and winter.

“Yeah,” I inform the dog, “Uncle Buzz has his bachelor party tonight—do you believe that shit?”

Chewy stares up at me, drool hanging from his bottom jowls.

“Want to know what’s worse than a bachelor party on a Saturday night when I could be lying on the couch? A themed bachelor party.” I eyeball the bag on the counter through narrowed eyes and yank open the fridge. The cleaning lady slash housekeeper has left me some chicken patties and a side of potato salad so there’s nothing for me to prepare.

I grab and go.

Heat and eat.

The chicken goes in the microwave, the potato salad goes in my mouth.

“Get this.” I swallow. “We’re going axe throwing and he wants everyone to wear plaid.” That’s what’s in the bag—the plaid flannel shirt I had our mom buy for me. Who has time to hunt that shit down? Not me.

Yes, I could have ordered it online, but who knows what I like better than my own mother?

I peer inside. The shirt is lumberjack plaid—haha, funny Mom—a red and black checkered pattern. Khaki cargo pants.

I groan. Why must Buzz insist on making us look like complete imbeciles in public? As if axe throwing wasn’t bad enough. I’ve never done it, but how hard can it be? Obviously I’m going to dominate at it, but still, I’d rather be couch-surfing with the dog tonight.

My chicken comes out of the microwave, warm and steaming hot and loaded with cranberry stuffing (my favorite), and I prematurely cram a piece in my mouth.

It scalds my taste buds. “Dammit!”

Fuck I’m so hungry.

I barely taste it as I pack it down my gullet, trying to finish my meal so I can take another hot shower. When I’m finally upstairs in my bathroom, I study my reflection in the mirror.

Do I shave, or leave it?

If I don’t, I’m going to look even stupider and lumberjack-ier in that dumb plaid shirt—but it’s such a hassle getting out the razor and going through the whole process, and I’m not exactly in the mood to put in any effort.

I text my mom.

Me: Do I seriously have to wear this outfit? I’m going to look like a douche.

Mom: Yes. This is not about you.

Me: This is about me not wanting to wear this outfit.

Mom: This is your brother’s big night—be a team player.

Me: This is NOT THE WEDDING, MOM. Could we not call this his “big night”? Everything is not always about him.

Mom: Tripp Francis Wallace I’m not going to say this again. If I hear that you didn’t do your part, I’m going to be so disappointed in you. Your brother has finally met someone decent and you are not going to ruin his bachelor party.

Me: Someone else will probably do that.

I can’t help adding that little jab; let’s be real—Buzz has invited a bunch of freaking idiots who’ll probably get wasted and destroy property.

Mom: Tripp just wear the goddamn shit.

Whoa. She’s getting pissed—Mom almost never swears and she just did it twice.

Mom: Shirt. Just wear the SHIRT. It’s not too much to ask. This is ONE night.

I want to point out that it’s not one night; it’s one of three: bachelor party, rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception. Except there is no reasoning with Genevieve Wallace—nothing has given her a purpose to live more than her youngest son getting married. Nothing can dull her sparkle. Anyone getting in her way will be obliterated and I will feel her wrath if I do not wear this fucking stupid outfit.

Buzz, Buzz, Buzz, it’s always about Buzz.

Me: Fine. But I’m not shaving.

Mom: Oh you’re going to look so handsome! Text me and tell me how it’s going. I want all the details!

Um, yeah—that’s not happening. I’m not going to gossip about some dumb stag party with my mother. I’m lame, but I’m not that lame.

Mom: You’re a good brother Tripp. We’re so proud of you.

No one lays on a guilt trip quite like my mother.

“Proud of me for going axe throwing,” I mutter, grumbling as I climb into the shower. The water shoots out of seven heads—ceiling, three in front of me, three in back. It’s excessive and indulgent, but after an entire day outside, battling the elements during practices and games, I know it was well worth installing the additional plumbing.

Or rather, having Buzz do it.

I bought this house from him after he flipped it and the shower was one of the selling points.

He’s one smart son of a bitch, I’ll give him that. And sure, his fiancée is pretty fucking awesome—but that still doesn’t mean I want to hoof it to Axe to Grind, the throwing bar where the party begins.

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