Home > Isn't It Bromantic? (Bromance Book Club #4)

Isn't It Bromantic? (Bromance Book Club #4)
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams

 


THE BACKSTORY


   Six months ago

   It’s all fun and games until someone shits their pants.

   And for once, Vlad Konnikov wasn’t the culprit.

   Luckily, however, he knew what to do. Because Vlad—a.k.a. the Russian, as his friends called him, since he was, in fact, Russian—had an unfortunate history of gastrointestinal catastrophes for which he’d only recently gotten a diagnosis. Now the man with an official gluten allergy and occasional irritable bowel symptoms never left the house without an emergency kit.

   And this was definitely an emergency.

   Vlad grabbed his bag from his hotel room five stories above the ballroom where he was a groomsman in his friend’s wedding and then raced back to the mezzanine floor. He found another groomsman guarding the door to the main bathroom.

   “He is still bad?” Vlad asked, his heavy accent more pronounced than usual because he was out of breath and slightly tipsy. It was a wedding, after all, and his stomach be damned, he was Russian. Russians drank at weddings.

   “Bad,” said Colton Wheeler, fellow groomsman and a country music star. “We’re talking full machine gunner.” Colton held up his hands to mimic the handles of the weapon and made a rapid pffft-pffft-pffft noise. “I wouldn’t go in there yet if I were you.”

   “I have to. He is the best man. He must give the speech.”

   “Unless he’s giving it from the toilet, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”

   The sound of dress shoes slapping on tile floor brought Vlad about-face. The groom, Braden Mack, slid to a stop. “Where the fuck is my brother?”

   Colton hooked his thumb over his shoulder with a grimace.

   “Still?” Mack wiped his hands over his head and then cursed, realizing he’d probably just messed up his hair. Mack was very particular about his hair. “Jesus, what’d he eat?”

   Vlad shrugged. “Probably cheese.”

   Cheese used to be Vlad’s nemesis, too, until he realized it wasn’t. He’d just been eating the wrong kinds of cheese and the wrong things with cheese. Now, he had a strict diet and daily medicine and could eat as much cheese as he wanted as long as he was careful. He was officially a new man.

   “I know what to do,” Vlad said. He opened his emergency bag, pulled out a box of peppermint tea bags, and handed them to Colton. “Fast. Go ask the hotel staff to make a mug of tea with these.”

   Colton studied the box. “Seriously?”

   “Just go.” He shook his shoulders and stretched his neck. “Okay. I am ready. I am going in.”

   Colton held up his hands in surrender. “It’s your nose.”

   “I’ll go with you,” Mack said, tugging down on the jacket to his tuxedo. “He’s my brother. I can handle it. I grew up with that little shit.”

   “Big shit,” Colton said, moving aside, hands still raised. “Trust me. Big shit.”

   The heavy door creaked as Vlad pushed it open. “Liam?” he asked gently, approaching the row of stalls like a hostage negotiator closing in on his suspect. “It is Vlad. Mack and I are here.”

   “Go away,” came the groaned response.

   Vlad pointed silently to the last stall. Mack nodded, grimacing as he inched closer.

   “How’s it going in there, man?” Mack asked.

   Liam answered with another groan. Mack smothered a laugh behind his hand.

   “Leave him alone,” Vlad whispered. “It is very not fun to have a stomach problem. Not funny like you think.”

   “You’re right, man,” Mack said, straightening. “We’ve made fun of you too much for that. I’m glad you’re feeling better.” Mack patted Vlad’s stomach through his tuxedo shirt. He lifted an eyebrow and backed up. “Damn, dude. You’re hiding some steel under there.”

   “I am a professional athlete,” Vlad said, shoving Mack’s hand away. “What did you think I had under there?”

   Vlad was a defenseman for the Nashville professional hockey team, which is how he’d managed to meet and befriend this crew of star-studded degenerates. Colton was by far the most famous, but the entire crew was a who’s who of Nashville’s movers and shakers. Vlad wasn’t even the only professional athlete in the wedding. Three others—Gavin Scott, Yan Feliciano, and Del Hicks—were members of the Nashville Major League Baseball team, and Malcolm James played football for the local NFL team. In the six years since Vlad had immigrated to America to play hockey, these guys had grown to be the best friends of his life, and Mack was the glue that had brought them all together through the Bromance Book Club. Together, they read romance novels written by women to learn how to be better men. This group, these men, the books—they had changed Vlad’s life. He was not going to let Mack down by allowing his brother to miss the most important toast of the night.

   “I can’t believe this,” Liam moaned from inside the stall. He followed it with a noise that made Mack reel back in horror. “What am I going to do?”

   Vlad stood in solidarity on the other side of the stall door. For years, he’d been known among his friends as the man most likely to clog their pipes. A reputation he was happy to put behind him. No one understood what it was like to be at constant war with your own body. Yeah, yeah, nothing funnier than an ill-timed fart, unless you’re the one doing it. Nothing quite like the panic of being in a public place and suddenly having your insides seize up in warning with nary a public bathroom in sight. “I can help,” he said simply.

   “You don’t have to stay in here,” Liam said. “In fact, I’d kinda rather you didn’t.”

   “Friends do not let friends suffer bad bowels alone.”

   “They do, actually,” Liam moaned. “Just go.”

   “You are the groom’s brother. The best man. You have to give the toast.”

   “I can’t.” He made a noise that proved it.

   Vlad winced in empathy. He opened his emergency kit and pulled out a vial of essential oils. He slid it under the stall door. “Rub some of this on your belly.”

   “It’s my goddamned asshole that hurts!”

   “This will ease cramping,” Vlad said. “Trust me.”

   Next, Vlad pulled out a packet of fast-acting Imodium capsules and slid it under the stall door. “Take two of these now. They will not work immediately, but they will help.”

   A shiny black-shoed toe dragged the packet out of sight. “Thanks, man.”

   Lastly, Vlad pulled out a brand-new package of men’s underwear. He slid those under the stall. “Just in case,” he said, standing.

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