Craig Oliver and Alex Scheff lead a charmed life. Craig is part owner of Sucre Coeur, the bakery he’s loved and managed for years. Alex is an up-and-coming Seattle photographer. Their relationship has been going strong for a year, and everything is absolutely perfect—right up until Craig receives a wedding invitation from his long-estranged brother.
As Craig grows tense over seeing his brother for the first time in years, Alex can’t control his anxiety over meeting Craig’s family. At the wedding in an English hamlet, boisterous Scottish mothers, smirking teenage sisters, and awkward ex-boyfriends complicate the sweet life they lead.
Smelling of soap, a blue bath towel slung around his hips, Craig drops a kiss on Alex’s forehead before he takes his own seat. He slides the Ivory Square of Doom to his side of the table. “Right, we have to work this out.”
“Do we?” Alex cuts a finger of toast and dips it into his egg. He concentrates on the simple task so he doesn’t have to look Craig in the eye. “I mean, really. Neither of us actually wants to go. Why can’t we just RSVP with a sad but firm no and send them the nicest thing on their registry?”
Silence stretches long enough that he does look up. Open-mouthed, Craig stares at him. A forgotten toast finger drips egg yolk onto the tabletop. “You…” Craig shakes his head and puts down the toast. “You spoke to my mother. Many times you faced this woman on Skype or Facetime and had actual conversations with her, and you still somehow think that is a reasonable course of action.” His eyebrows lift, and he lets out a low whistle. “You know, I’ve held your balls in my hand. Were they brass all this time, and I just missed it?”
“Oh, come on, Craig.” Alex runs a hand through his hair. “Yes, I spoke to your mother. She’s nowhere near as scary as mine.”
“See, now, there’s an excellent reason for both of us to go to this damn wedding, so I can show you in person exactly how wrong you are.” Craig lifts his mug of tea and coughs out a laugh. “Your mother is frightening, I grant you: half my size and twice as intimidating as I can manage on my best day. In fact, our mothers would get on like houses afire, which should give you an idea as to why I, at least, cannot get out of going to this wedding.” He takes a sip of tea, sets the mug aside, and reaches over the table to catch Alex’s hand in both of his. “Alex, even apart from my mother’s insistence… Chloe is one of my oldest friends. I have to do this for her. But I can’t do it without you. I know it won’t be easy, but I need you there with me.”
At the sight of their joined hands, a lump grows in Alex’s throat to match the one in his stomach. “It’s just… your family…”
Silence falls again, interrupted only by Fitz tap-tap-tapping across the checkerboard linoleum of the kitchen floor and whining to be picked up. Craig scoops him up and scratches Fitz’s fuzzy little ears. “They won’t bite, Alex. They’re just…”
“Just people, just your family, I know.” Alex’s chest tightens. “Just your mother, your father, your sisters, your brother who you don’t even like, and I guess there’s an Aunt Lorraine now, and this Chloe chick and God knows who else gathering for the Wedding of the Century, where they’ll get to meet Craig’s neurotic train wreck of a boyfriend and judge us. They’ll judge me for being an uptight, deadbeat American and you for clearly having some kind of episode, to decide that I was an appropriate choice for a boyfriend.”
The lump in his throat swells and cuts him off.
* * *
* * *ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Lissa Reed is a writer of ﬁction, blogs, and bawdy Renaissance song parodies. She traces her early interest in writing back to elementary school, when a teacher gifted her with her ﬁrst composition book and told her to fill it with words. After experimenting with print journalism, Reed shifted her writing focus to romance and literary ﬁction and never looked back. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Absolutely, Almost, Perfect is the third book in her Sucre Coeur Series.
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