Hopeful Romantic – Spruce Texas Read Online Daryl Banner

Categories Genre: M-M Romance Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 74
Estimated words: 70570 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 353(@200wpm)___ 282(@250wpm)___ 235(@300wpm)

This holiday, two of Texas’s most beloved sweethearts
are finally gettin’ hitched. Everyone in the small town of Spruce
is overjoyed as the winter wedding kicks off.
Everyone except Malcolm Tucci.
Forced to attend the festivities with his father catering the event,
the stone-hearted, grudge-carrying, holiday-hating Malcolm
is brought face-to-face with Bobby, the soccer boy groom he could’ve had,
and Jimmy, the dancer who stole him away.
What he didn’t count on was having his feet swept out from under him
by the rugged, pretty-eyed, and insufferably cocky Samuel.
Is it too late for Malcolm to believe in romance again?
Or is this holiday wedding about to get crashed?

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************

Chapter 1

Can’t You Just Be Happy?

It isn’t easy to tell when winter’s come around here. One day, you’re casually wiping sweat off your brow while walking home from a quick errand to the grocers. The next morning, you wake up shivering thanks to a window you left open last night, unaware of the surprise cold front that blew in. And my father still wonders why I don’t trust weathermen.

But this time, it isn’t a cold front that tells me winter’s here. Nor is it our early bird neighbor who puts up his Christmas lights at the top of November, nor the sappy holiday movies my father secretly watches (and cries to) every night before going to bed.

It’s the card in my hand. A card that reads:

Paul and Nadine Strong & Dale and Patricia Parker

cordially invite you to the wedding ceremony of their handsome sons

Jimmy & Bobby

I drag the tip of my tongue across my bottom lip in slow and frigid contemplation, rereading this stiff piece of fancy stationery over and over. It smells of raspberries and lavender. I bet that isn’t an accident. Gross.

And really, what’s the purpose of using the word “handsome” to describe their sons? How tacky. Are they implying that it would be a less interesting wedding if their sons were ugly?

Beauty is so tragically relative.

That’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way recently. No matter how many times I preen my eyebrows, or restyle my hair, or try some cute new fashion trend, nothing fills the gaping hole in my cold, dead heart that constantly tells me I’ll never measure up to other, prettier guys who get all the attention.

Guys like the handsome Jimmy.

Guys like the handsome Bobby.

“Get out of your feelings, Malcolm, and come help your pops.”

I look up from the card to find my dad by the front door with a box in his hands. He’s a big guy with a big belly and the strength of mountains in his arms. We share many features, from our thick, long eyebrows and dark, wavy hair to our tanned complexion and propensity to show little on our faces, appearing emotionless and stoic all the time. But for all the belly he’s got, I’m basically a plank of wood—and not in the flattering way; I have to find just the right sized clothes so I don’t look like I’m drowning in my imaginary older brother’s hand-me-downs. Also, in contrast to my smooth-as-a-baby’s-ass face, my father has cultivated a rather large, gray beard that covers his mouth. He used to keep it neatly trimmed, but ever since Mom left a few years back, he’s let it run wild.

“Don’t you have people for this?” I ask with a frown. “Why are we doing so much? My arms are about as muscular as spaghetti, and you’re gonna throw out your back.”

“Malcolm,” is all he says, testy yet patient, then sees himself out of the back door of the restaurant, kicking it shut behind him.

I give the card one last glance, then flick it at a nearby trash bin. A motion-sensored Frosty the Snowman sitting on a counter nearby comes to life, wiggling its carrot nose and singing a jolly Christmas tune complete with sleigh bells and laughter. I stare at the thing, dead-eyed, and patiently wait for it to finish. Twenty long seconds later, it’s still going. Thirty. Forty. A minute.

Even Frosty the Snowman is mocking my misery.

An hour and twenty-two minutes later finds me sitting in the passenger seat of my dad’s catering van as we make the drive out to Spruce from Fairview. The temperature is cooler than usual for south Texas, which means I’ve got on gray jeans with a belt, a nice pair of designer boots, and my favorite slim-fitting white sweater accessorized by an entirely unnecessary yet fashionable red lace scarf. I have my phone out, thumbing through my social feeds, while my dad drives and hums along to a Christmas tune on the radio. I can’t tell if he’s trying to sing, what with his mountainous beard covering all evidence of the existence of a mouth, but it wouldn’t surprise me; he’s always full of joy when heading to a gig, like nothing short of a natural disaster can bring him down.