Trevor Booth's life was just thrown a curveball. When his ex dies, he suddenly goes from an every-other-weekend, fun-time dad to a full-time dad. The dad part he's cool with, but life with two teens is like a roller coaster in hell. Thank God his ex-wife's best friend, Callie, seems to have secret powers that allow her to deal with the chaos.
Callie is devastated when Lisa dies, and she's determined to help the kids get through it. She's concerned about how Trevor will adjust to being a full-time parent, but she's having a tough time keeping her eyes off his ripped physique. Callie loves being a part of this makeshift family, but no way she's falling for her best friend's ex.
Each book in the Daring Divorcees series is STANDALONE:
* One Night with a Millionaire
* My Best Friend’s Ex
* My Forever Plus-One
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Trevor Booth brushed the rain from his hair as he walked into Sunny's Diner to meet his friends. While they didn't go to the divorce support group anymore, they still routinely met for coffee. His phone buzzed again. His ex, Lisa. It was her third text of the morning.
He stared at the screen as he neared the table.
"What's got you looking so serious?" Nina asked.
He glanced up before pulling a chair out to sit. Lisa wanted him to talk to their son.
"Huh?" He looked up again to find both Nina and Tess staring at him.
"Lisa has been texting me since I got in the truck. Evan's acting up, and she wants me to talk to him."
"That's good, right? That she's asking for you to step in," Tess said.
"I suppose." He'd been feeling distant from his kids lately, but it was normal. They were teenagers, and they lived with Lisa. His weekend visitation had been hit-or-miss. Part of him had wanted a more active role in their lives, though. This was his chance.
He glanced around to wave the waitress over to fill his coffee cup.
"What's Evan doing?" Nina asked.
"I don't really know. She said that he goes out without telling her where he is, and when she asks, he gets confrontational. They've been fighting a lot."
His phone buzzed again.
Evan gets out of school at 3:30 if you want to pick him up.
Trevor sighed. Nothing like having his ex-wife passive-aggressively suggest how and when he should talk to Evan. He texted Lisa back to let her know he was working until five, but he'd call Evan and make plans for dinner.
You could leave work early. You're the boss.
He scrubbed a hand over his face. And a conversation with Evan can wait a couple more hours.
For sure today, though. Right?
I promise. He figured that would appease her, because she knew he made it a point to always follow through on a promise. Lightning cracked outside. Rain pelted the plate glass windows of the diner, and he was glad his crew was working on an indoor job today.
Thank you. I appreciate it. I'm at my wit's end with him.
I'll see what I can do.
The waitress filled his cup, and he took a gulp. Then he turned his attention to the conversations going on around him. Tess was telling everyone about a weekend trip she and her boyfriend had taken with the kids to a water park.
Nina set her cup down. "Okay. Time for the rest of you to give us an update on the dating front."
A collective groan rumbled across the table. It had been months since Nina had issued a challenge to all of them to get back into the dating game. She passed a small flyer to each of them except Tess. "There's a singles mixer at this jazz club. I think we should all go."
Trevor read the flyer. He had no desire to meet a woman at a bar. He avoided even stepping foot in a bar. One of the perks of being a recovering alcoholic.
"There's not a drink minimum or anything," Nina said. Even though everyone in their group knew he was an alcoholic, it had always been Nina who was his biggest supporter.
"Even if I'm not expected to drink, picking up a woman in a bar isn't a good idea for me." He was fine being around people who drank. After being in AA for more than seven years, since a year after his divorce, he could function in most situations. He tended to use his alcoholism as a crutch to avoid interacting with people. He knew he did it, was aware it wasn't healthy, but as his sponsor often pointed out, he was a work in progress.
"I'm in," Evelyn said. She nudged Owen's elbow. "Let's do this."
They were best friends, having been a part of the divorce support group before the rest of them joined.
"Only if you come in separate cars and don't hang all over each other," Nina said.
"What are you talking about?" Owen asked.
Nina rolled her eyes. "How are you supposed to meet someone new if everyone thinks you're a couple?"
"No one thinks that."
"Keep telling yourself that," she countered. "Are any of you going to see Gabe soon?"
Evelyn laughed. "Why? You know he won't come with us."
She wasn't wrong. Gabe was more of a hermit than Trevor was. Trevor at least left the house every day to go to work. Gabe worked from his house. He'd never known anyone who disliked — no, distrusted — people more than Gabe did.
"Ugh. You guys are impossible."
"Maybe they're not ready to meet people," Tess offered.
"You didn't think you were ready, either, but when I prompted you to go out with Miles, look what happened."
"You have a point."
Trevor's phone rang. He glanced at the screen. Not a number he recognized, so he pushed it to voicemail. He tried not to interrupt time with his friends for a customer.
For the next half hour or so, they chatted and let Nina harass them about their dating lives. After he finished his second cup of coffee, he said his goodbyes and headed to his truck. Remembering the missed call, he pulled out his phone as he climbed behind the wheel. He clicked to the voicemail.
"Hello, Mr. Booth, I am calling from Rush Hospital. There's been an accident."
* * *
Trevor needed to change position, but he couldn't. Trapped under the weight of his daughter's head on his lap and the grief surrounding both of his children, he couldn't force his body to move. So he sat on the couch for a few more minutes, guiltily soaking in the fact that his little girl — closer to woman than baby — had curled up and laid her head on his lap like she hadn't done since she was a toddler. Hannah slept silently while her older brother, Evan, snored in the chair beside them.
Trevor studied his kids. Hannah's long dark hair was spilling out of her ponytail. Evan sprawled in the chair, legs kicked out. He, too, no longer looked like a child. They seemed peaceful, though, so he wanted them to have this because when they awoke again, they would remember that their mother was dead and they were stuck with him.
While sitting in the near silence, he thought about the arrangements he still needed to make. He'd only made two phone calls from the hospital — one to Lisa's parents and one to her best friend, Callie. His former father-in-law had said he wanted to handle everything. The unspoken comment being that since the divorce, Trevor no longer had a claim to Lisa.
He'd shoved that aside, but now thoughts of Lisa and her parents were making him itchy. Easing Hannah's head off his leg, he stood and stretched. He scrubbed a hand over his face and walked through the house. He'd only been inside this place a handful of times. With the exception of the kids, he and Lisa had led very separate lives.
Not that it had been his choice, but he'd deserved it.
The walls needed to be patched and painted. A few pieces of trim were loose. The floor had seen better days. Why hadn't Lisa mentioned she needed work done? He would've taken care of all of this for her.
It was another reminder that she hadn't wanted him in her house.
In the kitchen, he got a glass of water with shaky hands. He gulped the liquid, knowing that tonight it wouldn't quench his thirst.
Before the glass was empty, the doorbell rang. Fuck. He'd hoped it would take them longer to get here from Indiana.
Trevor braced himself to face his former in-laws and opened the front door slightly. "The kids are asleep in the living room," he whispered before opening the door all the way.
Diane and Gordon looked older than he remembered, and their faces were ravaged with pain. Impeccably dressed in a black blouse and slacks, Diane strode into the house. Trevor briefly wondered if she'd changed into those clothes to show the world she was in mourning or if that was how she always dressed.
Gordon set a bag on the floor and shook Trevor's hand.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to say here," Trevor said, his voice scratchy.
"Not much to say."
In the living room, Diane stared at Hannah and Evan. "Why are they sleeping here? They belong in their beds. Crashing on uncomfortable furniture is the last thing their bodies need."
"They were exhausted and upset. We sat together until they passed out." He immediately regretted his choice of words, because it was too reminiscent of his drinking days.
She shook her head and then knelt in front of the couch. "Hannah," she said softly, running a hand over his daughter's hair.
Hannah's eyes blinked open. "Grandma?"
"Yes, honey, I'm here."
Hannah sat up and looked around, like Dorothy after she'd returned home from Oz. Unfortunately, there wasn't a happy ending here. Her face crumpled, and Diane sat beside her and held her.
Evan woke and shifted. "Hi," he said, stretching his legs even more and throwing his arms over his head. At seventeen, he'd already mastered the manly way of hiding his emotions, and since he'd already cried with Trevor at the hospital, Trevor didn't expect to see much more from his son. Evan rubbed a hand over his head in a gesture Trevor had caught himself doing in uncomfortable situations.
"Have you eaten?" Diane asked.
"I ordered pizza earlier, but no one was particularly hungry," Trevor answered. He hated the constant implication that he couldn't care for his kids.
"We were a little busy today." Busy or not, it was usually pizza or some other takeout when he was with the kids, but he wouldn't admit that to Diane.
"How about I go in the kitchen and make something?"
"You don't have to do that, Grandma," Hannah said. "I'm still not hungry."
"Then let's get you to bed. The couch isn't a good place for you to sleep."
Hannah allowed her grandmother to usher her upstairs. Gordon, Trevor, and Evan all looked at one another.
"Can I get you anything, Gordon?" Not that Trevor had any idea what he was offering.
Gordon shook his head. He had always been a man of few words.
"So, uh, I ... about the arrangements. I have more phone calls to make to let people know. I wasn't sure ..." Trevor swallowed hard. "I didn't know what you and Diane would want to handle, or what I should take care of."
"If you could make calls to her friends that would be helpful. Diane and I will handle the family calls."
"Okay. I'll do that now." He hitched a thumb over his shoulder toward the kitchen and gave Gordon a quick nod.
Outside on the back deck, Trevor leaned against the rail and then thought better of it. It wobbled under his weight. One more thing to add to the list of repairs. Then he pulled out his phone and made the most important call of the day.
It was evening, and Trevor hoped Karl would answer. Karl always did unless he was in a meeting.
"Trevor. What's up?"
Trevor sighed and sank to the stairs. "My ex died. I'm here with my kids and my former in-laws, and I haven't wanted a drink this bad in years."
"Talk to me."
* * *
Callie Larson sat in the back of the car driving away from O'Hare and rested her head against the cool glass of the window. Sights of the city flashed by as the car sped down the highway. She'd spent more time in the air than she had on the ground in the past thirty hours. The Philippines had never felt so far away. Just another dot on the map. Until today — yesterday. As soon as she'd received Trevor's message, she'd grabbed her things and gone straight to the airport, emailing her client on the way.
She'd never walked away from a job without finishing, but she couldn't think, much less shoot pictures.
Callie ... It's Trevor. I hope you get this wherever you are. It's the only number I have. It's Lisa. She was in a car accident ... She ... she didn't make it.
The words echoed through her, and Callie's heart lurched. Trevor's voice wasn't right, but she was torn between thinking he'd had a drink and thinking he was simply grief-stricken. It was a rare occasion for her to pray, but on the entire flight, that's what she'd found herself doing. Hannah and Evan would need Trevor, and if he fucked up by falling off the wagon, she'd kill him.
She clung to the fact that Lisa had said he'd been sober for years, that he'd made amends as best he could. Lisa had forgiven him, even if she'd had no desire to reconcile.
My best friend is gone.
Callie had no idea how to come to terms with that. Trevor had called yesterday afternoon. By now, Lisa's parents would be there, trying to take over. She stared at the city skyline against the pinkish purple of the evening sky and thought of her friend. They'd left Indiana together two days after high school graduation, desperate to get away from their families. They'd had each other; they hadn't needed anyone else.
Now Callie had no one.
The car turned down a side street. This had become Callie's favorite part of any trip. The feeling of returning home. But now, she had no idea how much longer this would be her home.
The car stopped, and the driver got out and opened the trunk. Callie jumped from the car. Although he was trying to be nice, she hated that drivers always wanted to take her bags. Her equipment was too expensive to entrust to just anyone. She reached into the trunk before he even touched a handle.
"I've got this, thanks." With her other hand, she pressed a five-dollar bill into his palm. She swung her backpack over her shoulder and hefted the two equipment bags, leaving the trunk open for him to close.
For a full minute, Callie stood at the curb, staring at the house. She couldn't decide if she should go around back to the coach house where she lived or if she should go to the front door. She had a key, but using it suddenly seemed wrong. Lisa's family and her ex were inside that house.
But so were Lisa's kids. She straightened her tired body and forged ahead. She set a bag on the porch and rang the bell, which felt so foreign.
Trevor opened the door.
"Callie." His eyes widened in surprise. His eyes were clear, but he looked as exhausted as she felt. They also held a healthy amount of wariness. She hadn't seen him in years. The dark scruff on his jaw was now peppered with gray. But overall, he looked healthy. No alcoholic puffy red face. No sagging muscles. He was strong, broad.
He took a bag from her. "You should've called. I wasn't sure if you got my message." He looked at the other bags. "You didn't even go home first. I would've picked you up from the airport."
She smiled weakly. That was the Trevor she remembered from twenty years ago when she and Lisa had first met him. Always the helpful one. "I figured you'd be busy. Besides, I am home."
He shut the door behind them, his forehead crinkled. "Huh?"
"I rent the coach house out back." How did he not know that? Lisa had offered her the space four years ago.
"I didn't know. Lisa never said, and ..." He shook his head. "I don't come here often."
That had been Lisa's doing. Callie filled her lungs. "Are they here yet?"
He nodded. She tucked her equipment bags into the front hall closet and walked into the living room.
"Who is it, Dad?" Hannah asked as she came from the kitchen. "Callie!" Her face lit up and she launched herself into Callie's arms, nearly knocking her over.
Callie held Hannah, who was looking more and more like her mother every day. She might've gotten her dad's dark hair, but she had Lisa's light blue eyes and fair skin.
"What's the commotion out here?" Diane said, wiping her hand on a towel. She saw Callie, and her lips flattened.
Yeah, no love lost there. Diane still blamed Callie for making Lisa run away, ever the bad influence that she was.
"Diane," she said with a nod of her head.
"Callie. What are you doing here?" The older woman, still thin, stood ramrod straight.
This would be good. If Trevor didn't know, neither did Diane. "I live here. In the coach house out back."
Diane's already-stony face became impenetrable. Callie withheld a snicker.
Hannah stepped back and took her hand. "Even if she didn't live here, Grandma, we want her here. Mom would've wanted her here. She's family."
Callie's throat closed. She couldn't swallow, could barely suck in a trickle of air. The teen was so much like Lisa. No one stood up for Callie the way Lisa always had. She squeezed Hannah's hand. "It's okay," she whispered. Looking at Diane and then Trevor, she added, "We're all adults. We know how to put our differences aside at a time like this."
She forced a smile she wasn't sure she'd ever feel again.
Diane, who would never let her manners be questioned, said with a tight smile of her own, "Of course. You look like you've been traveling. We've just had dinner. I'll warm some for you."
Trevor touched Hannah's shoulder. "Go help your grandma."
When they were gone, Trevor asked, "Can I get you anything? There's water or pop, but I haven't seen anything stronger."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "My Best Friend's Ex"
Copyright © 2019 Shannyn Schroeder.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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