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Julie Stewart nodded, not buying a word of it, but she knew better than to argue with her friend. “I know you are. You are just fine.” She didn’t want to upset him, just yet. After all, everyone was entitled to a delusion now and then.
But Troy’s time was rapidly dwindling.
“That’s right.” Her best friend, Troy Daniels, slumped down in his seat and crossed his arms over his chest. He hadn’t even touched his chimichangas, and he absolutely loved them, especially smothered in salsa verde like these were, alongside a healthy portion of Spanish rice. His food lay on his plate, ignored and rapidly becoming a gelatinous, cheesy mess in the hot summer sun.
But he had managed to toss down two margaritas as well as lick the salt from the rims of the glasses. Then, he’d switched to shots of tequila, downing three of those as well. If the waiter came with a refill, Julie planned on tripping him and sending him sprawling on the tile floor. Troy didn’t need any more alcohol.
She leaned forward, speaking over the mariachi band as they played a poor rendition of La Bamba in the corner. “But, even if you aren’t fine, that’s okay. You just broke up with Charles three weeks ago. You are allowed to feel like crap. You don’t have to be ‘fine’.”
“I know,” Troy said.
“Do you want to talk about it?” She silently prayed he did. He needed to get it out of his system.
“Not really.” He shut his eyes and leaned back in his chair and seemed to soak in the sun as it caressed his face. They sat in the outdoor dining room of Cantina, a local Mexican grill. Normally Troy loved this place but even the mere mention of Charles had managed to suck all of the joy out of the occasion.
Julie could see the circles under his eyes and his clothing fit a little looser, as though he’d lost weight. He didn’t seem to be dealing well with the breakup, and every time she tried to bring it up, he changed the subject. As a history teacher, he didn’t have to work in the summer and she wondered if he had too much time to think. He ran his hand along the whiskers on his chin, at least a day’s worth of growth. It made him appear more masculine, almost pirate-like.
She had to admit that Troy was gorgeous and he certainly didn’t look like a teacher, at least not any that she’d been taught by in school. He had warm brown eyes and honey blond hair that just touched the tips of ears. His body was ripped, too, due to all the hours he spent in the gym every week. Dressed in a pair of faded jeans and a white shirt, he looked positively nummy.
For a gay boyfriend.
Operative word? Gay.
She needed to keep that in mind. They’d been friends for a year, and when they’d first met, she’d thought for a little while that he found her attractive, but that had fizzled out when Troy had ‘fessed up to being gay.
On their second date. At least, she’d thought it had been a date at the time, but she’d been obviously mistaken.
He placed his hands behind his head and stretched. The sun sank in the sky rapidly, highlighting his muscles in a vibrant array of yellows and oranges. She managed to look away. Just barely. Troy had been in love with Charles for a year and had even let him move in a little over six months ago, but the relationship hadn’t survived.
Actually, it had imploded.