“I’m getting married,” Alcide announces after I tee off on the ninth hole of the golf course we are playing on. Alcide’s mother and father are members of the country club, so the guys (Tray, Rasul, Stan, Maxwell, Alcide, and me) try to play at least once a month. It’s been two months though since the last time we played. Real life can be a bitch like that sometimes, but it’s all good. We all have jobs to worry about; some of us have girlfriends, though in Alcide’s case, it’s now his fiancée.
“What the fuck did you do that for?” Max and Stan share horrified looks, and I can’t help but chuckle when Alcide glares warningly at them.
“We’ve been together for six years. I love her. It’s time we settled down,” Alcide defends himself.
“She threatened to leave you didn’t she?” Stan cannot accept that anyone would willingly enter into the matrimonial state. To him, women are a nice distraction from his business, but he’d rather cozy up to his binary code and spreadsheets than spend a significant amount of time with a woman. I still don’t understand how he attracts women. With his Coke bottle glasses, plaid button shirts, and khakis, I’ve never understood how Stan’s been able to consistently get laid, but the ladies flock to him. Of course, it could be that he’s got more money than most third world countries. Not that you would know it to look at him, but Stan had sold his first start-up company by the time he was nineteen. His second company had been sold shortly before we all graduated. Now he is working on his third company that I know he’s been hinting at that Apple has been interested in buying. I don’t even know what the hell a start-up company is!
“Claudine did not threaten to leave me,” Alcide says hotly. “But she’s been dropping hints that she wanted to get married for a while. It got worse when my sister got engaged. It was gonna happen eventually,” he says with a shrug. Alcide places his ball on the tee, lines up his swing, and tees off, sending the ball flying through the air down the green.
“What is it that you guys have against me getting married?” Alcide looks perplexed at all of us and we in turn look at him as if he has eight heads. His look of confusion turns to anger as none of us speak. “Claudine is a great girl; she’s been with me for years. She and I have a great life together. And she’s fucking amazing in bed. Why shouldn’t I marry her?”
We look at him silently before Max steps up and slaps him on the back. “We’re happy for you man; you caught us all by surprise though.” Each of us take a turn shaking Alcide’s hand, with me being the last.
“Congrats brother,” I tell him enthusiastically as we slap each other on the back in the traditional hug of heterosexual men the world over. Before I can pull away, Al grips my shoulder tightly and looks at me sheepishly.
“Would you be my best man Eric?” Alcide knows my feelings on marriage; I think it’s great for other people but it’s not for me. You would think since I work in the wedding business that I would be more of a romantic when it comes to weddings, but I’m not. I abhor weddings; they are nothing but a money pit. Why the fuck do you need to spend thousands of dollars on a single fucking day?!?! I can’t complain because brides are willing to pay me thousands of dollars to shoot their wedding photos, but I think it’s an absolute waste of money. The only two good things I have found about weddings are the money I make and horny bridesmaids/guests. If there is a single, relatively attractive bridesmaid in the wedding party, then it’s a 95% guarantee that I’m going to get laid. What can I say? I’m a good looking guy and I spend a lot of time with these women during the day. I flirt with them as I take their pictures, and as they drink more and more alcohol, they lose more and more of their inhibitions. And no one’s feelings are hurt in the morning because they all know it’s a one-time thing. On a few occasions, I’ve hooked up with the same girl when she ends up being a bridesmaid in another wedding. My assistant, Willa, thinks I’m an absolute dog, but why should I change? I’m not hurting anybody and it’s not like I’m the type to get involved in a monogamous relationship.
“Al, you know how I feel about weddings,” I say quietly and he hurries to interrupt me.
“Dude I know, and I wouldn’t normally ask you to do this, but Claudine asked me to ask you. She’s worried what some of these other assholes,” he says gesturing with his thumb over his shoulder to the other two of our foursome that are currently trying to give each other a nut tap, “will say if they have to give the best man speech. Please Eric,” Alcide begs. “I’ll pay for your tux and other incidentals. It won’t cost you a thing.”
That’s not true, I think wryly. I’m sure I will be losing money because Claudine will probably pick the busiest fucking wedding date in the year. Not to mention the bachelor party, a hotel room, the gift, and other random shit that will pop up. I love him like a brother, but Alcide doesn’t have a clue what a wedding costs. Granted, most grooms have a hands off approach when it comes to weddings. They wisely defer all decisions to the bride. The few instances where I’ve dealt with groomzillas have been a nightmare. It’s taken every ounce of restraint in those instances not to punch the grooms out. I am a professional; do not tell me how to do my fucking job. I went to college for four years, work freelance for magazines and newspapers, and I even dabble in fashion photography. I do not need some asshole with an iPhone trying to tell me how to pose people or take pictures.
“I’d rather photograph your wedding Al. Hell, I’d do it for free,” I say hoping to change his mind about being his best man. It says something when I’m willing to give away a $2000 photography package for free to get out of being the best man.
“I don’t want you to work my wedding; I want you to be able to drink and have fun,” Alcide admonishes me. “Besides I think the wedding planner has someone in mind for the photographer,” Alcide admits a little guiltily.
I hate wedding planners more than groomzillas. Most wedding coordinators I have worked with have no business being in the business; they are people that do it on the side and think because they planned their own wedding that they have the knowledge to plan someone else’s. I have only met a handful of coordinators over the years that are Better Business Bureau rated and actually know their shit.
“Who is Claudine going with?” I have my preferences for who I like to work with. I’m not going to try and influence who Claudine picks for anything, but I want to know that my friends aren’t getting swindled.
“Sophisticated Parties, I think is the name of the company. All I know is that the coordinator scares the shit outta me,” Alcide says with a shudder. “I’m afraid to tell her if I don’t like something because I’m afraid she’ll impale my balls on the end of her stilettos.” Alcide cups his twig and berries protectively as he shudders again thinking about the coordinator. I can’t help but smirk at Alcide. He isn’t far off the mark; Pamela Ravenscroft, the owner of Sophisticated Soirees (a fucking pompous title if I ever heard one), is an ice bitch of the first order. She doesn’t take just anyone as her client; there is an application process the prospective clients have to go through in order for her to consider working for you. I’ve seen her reduce brides to tears with a single glance; on one occasion, I watched her knee a groomsman in the balls for spilling beer on her shoes. No one in the Shreveport area wedding industry wants to be on her bad side; a scathing review by Pam will cause your business to wither and die. Every wedding professional and venue in the area wants to be in Pam’s good graces. And I was one of the fortunate few she liked; don’t ask me how that came to be. I never let her intimidate me, but I didn’t kiss her ass like other professionals have. She’s thrown me a fair amount of business over the years, so I’m surprised she didn’t consider me for Claudine’s event.
By refusing my offer to do the wedding photography, Alcide has backed me in a corner. If I agree to do this, I’m going to be miserable; if I don’t agree to do this, then I risk losing a friendship that I’ve had since I was a freshman in college. Of course, I’ve seen friendships destroyed because of planning a wedding. I’m not worried about that with Alcide; if anything, I’m worried Claudine will drive me batshit crazy before this whole fucking thing is over.
“Then I guess you’ve got yourself a best man,” I say with a wry smile. Alcide grips my hand tightly and shakes it enthusiastically.
“Thanks man; you are a lifesaver,” Alcide says with obvious relief. “You and Dad are my best men; these assholes,” he says jerking his thumb in the direction of the other guys that are goofing off around the tee, “will be the groomsmen along with Claudine’s brother Claude.”
“Sweet baby Jesus,” Rasul says in horror, “how many fucking bridesmaids are there?”
“Who gives a shit?” Maxwell counters with a negligible shrug. “The more important question is, are they hot? And equally as important, are they single?” Max gets right to the heart of the matter; Max, or as we call him “Player Player”, thinks himself the ultimate ladies’ man. He’s a well-built guy, thanks to his job as a personal trainer, with light coffee-colored skin and bright blue eyes thanks to his mom. His hair curls so he wears it short along the neck and sides with just a hint of curl on the top. I remember one night when we were at our favorite bar for karaoke night; Max was hitting on two girls at the same time. While the one girl went to the bathroom, Max went out to the other girl’s car with her. I don’t know how the other girl found them, but I remember she started knocking on the car window and screaming “aww hell no!” It ended up in a catfight, with the two girls going to jail. Max was wounded during the fight; he got slapped and one of the girls scratched him with her fake nails. Would you believe that lucky mother fucker used his injuries to get one of the arrested girl’s friends to take him home and play nurse? That was the night “Player Player” was born.
Alcide shrugs as we walk to the golf carts to drive down the green to find where our balls landed. “I’ve never really given it a lot of thought. I know when they go out in a group, guys flock to them. I actually met them because I bought her and her friends a round of drinks when it was Hadley’s 21st birthday. Claudine was very appreciative of the gesture,” Alcide says with a wolfish grin. I grin too as I remember that night; Claudine had dragged Alcide to the bathroom to “thank” him properly. Claudine may come off as a high society gal, but she likes to get down and dirty between the sheets. I had walked in on them fucking more than once during our last two years of college, and Claudine never minded having an audience or extra participants. I can’t help chuckling; those were the good old days.
“Hadley?” Tray’s head wipes around as if he expects to see her standing there on the golf course. He has carried a torch for her since the day they met, but he never acted on it because she was starry-eyed for Remy, a guy that was in the fraternity with us. I know fraternities are about brotherhood, but I never liked that dick. Hadley was and still is a sweet girl that adored him and he fucked around on her all the time. When he found out she was pregnant, he hightailed it out of town and to my knowledge no one has seen him since. That was damn near four years ago. I haven’t seen a lot of Hadley since we graduated, but I know she’s got a little boy. Tray was heartbroken when he found out she was pregnant; he spent a weekend drunk off his ass before sobering up to try and find Remy’s sorry ass and beat some sense in him. I don’t know why Tray never asked her out after her kid was born, but judging by his reaction, he’s still in love with her.
“Yeah, Hadley is gonna be a bridesmaid,” Alcide says as he starts the golf cart with me, Tray, and Stan riding along. “Claudine is having brunch with Hadley, Tara, and Sookie right now to let them know we’re getting married. I think Claudine’s asking Sookie to be a maid of honor,” Alcide says giving me a sideways glance.
“Fuck me sideways with a rusty screwdriver,” I mutter emphatically. Of course Claudine would ask Sookie Stackhouse to be her maid of honor! Why the fuck didn’t I think of that before I agreed to this shit?
Flashback – Six Years Ago
“Come on Eric,” Alcide pleads his case as we shoot hoops on the basketball court. It’s a three-on-three matchup. I’m not that much a fan of basketball, but my height does give me an advantage. Alcide had been after me for weeks to go on a double date with him, Claudine his new girlfriend, and one of her roommates.
“Why the fuck should I go on a date with this girl? It’s not like I want a relationship. If she’s friends with Claudine, she’s probably a stuck up bitch.” Claudine’s alright, but you can tell she’s used to having money. She’s a freak in the bedroom, but outside of that she acts like a spoiled rich bitch. She must have a magical vag in order to keep Alcide panting after her like a dog. Actually, any hole on her body is fair game; during the threesome I had with her and Al, Claudine’s favorite position was Al’s dick in her mouth and my dick up her ass.
“Her roommates aren’t like her,” Alcide says as he tries to get a layup past me. Of course, my giant wingspan blocks his shot and I can’t help but smirk at his aggravated look.
“But they would still be looking for a relationship,” I counter as Alcide and I push against each other; he’s trying to play defense and I’m trying to break away so I can get the ball. Tray lobs the ball up in the air and I break away from Alcide, pushing him down to the ground so I can slam the ball down in the basket. I hang on the rim of the basket as the ball swishes through the net. When I drop back to the ground, Alcide is slowly getting to his feet.
“You alright?” It looks like he scrapped his arm pretty hard on the pavement; I can see the bright red drops of blood among the torn skin.
“I’ll live but I think I’m done for the day,” Alcide says as he walks to the side of the court where all our bottles of water and shirts are. It’s a hot day, and it doesn’t hurt that the basketball courts are right next to Sorority Row. More than a few of the girls have stopped to watch the hard, sweaty male bodies on display for them. Among the group of girls sitting on the bleachers is Claudine with a petite blonde that looks like she doesn’t even reach my neck. She’s a bit thicker around the middle than most girls I go for but she’s got the best fucking tits I’ve ever seen framed perfectly in a tiny red tank top. And when she stands . . . Her ass is so high and tight I bet I could bounce quarters off it. Sporting an erection in a pair of basketball shorts is not easy to hide, so I’m doing my best Austin Powers impersonation trying to think of every repugnant thing I can to will my hard on away. Claudine walks to Alcide, kissing him on the cheek, avoiding his arms when he tries to pull her closer.
“Hey beautiful,” Alcide says with a grin after he succeeds in grabbing Claudine’s hips to pull her close. He puckers his lips in an exaggerated kiss and she laughingly kisses his lips quickly before pulling back.
“Alcide, you’ll get me all sweaty and I have to go to class,” Claudine says as she pushes against Alcide’s chest. He reluctantly lets her go and she smiles gratefully at him. “Hey Eric,” she says with a wave.
“Hey,” I tell her though my eyes are staring at the blonde. She doesn’t look at me though; in fact, her eyes are shifting to look everywhere but at me. What the fuck?!?!?!
“Eric this is Sookie, one of my roommates and my best friend. Sookie, this is Eric, Alcide’s roommate.” Claudine has a huge smile on her face, and she looks immensely pleased with herself. If this is the roommate that Alcide was talking about, then I am definitely changing my mind. The things I could do to her body… The things I want her to do to mine… I need to stop this train of thought before I end up touching Sookie with more than just my hand.
“It’s nice to meet you Sookie,” I say as I offer my hand to her. She finally looks at me and I see that her eyes are a rich, chocolate brown color with tiny amber flecks around her pupils. Those flecks capture me completely; it’s like fireflies dancing in the night.
“It’s nice to meet you too,” she says with a smile and what sounds like a giggle in her voice.
I completely forget that Claudine and Alcide are standing with us, and I don’t relinquish her hand. My hand engulfs hers, and where my hand is hard and callused, her skin is smooth and soft. There is something about her drawing me in and I find myself blurting out, “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”
Her eyes widen in surprise and flick to look at Claudine. I don’t turn to look at Claudine, but I’m sure she is encouraging her friend to say yes. Why else would Alcide be asking me to go on a double date?
“Sure; why not?” She smiles up at me and I cannot help smiling at her in return. As Bogey said at the end of Casablanca, ‘I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’
Oh if I only knew then what I know now . . .