Chandler Beck is at a crossroads. To move forward, he has to take a trip back to the biggest regret in his life. He discovers a man happily settled down with a partner, both of whom are ready to call him a friend. When they offer him a place to rest, Chandler ends up in their guest room and with a job at the best restaurant in town.
Once a rising star on the pro golf circuit, a back injury forced August Howard to give up the game. Swallowing his pride, he accepted a job waiting tables and worked his way up to the manager of The Wharf, the area’s premier restaurant. He’s not happy when the owner does a favor for a friend and hires the seemingly inexperienced Chandler Beck as a bartender.
It doesn’t take Chandler long to win over the prickly August, but August is a man with secrets. Their friendship heats up and when August’s past comes calling, Chandler pays the price. The only option open is for August to confess all and hope those around him, especially Chandler, will accept he’s a different man from who he was in his yesterdays.
I grasped his wrist. “What can I do to help?”
August raised his head. Our gazes locked. “First off, don’t presume you know anything about me beyond what I tell you. Secondly, I need a glass of water, too.”
“Coming right up.”
I drew a glass of carbonated water from the soda tap and set it in front of him. He drew a small tin from his pocket. “You didn’t see this.”
What I saw was him select a white pill from the tin, neatly crack it in half, and swallow one of the pieces. Did he have a drug problem? Since he’d taken the pill in front of me, I didn’t consider it as being nosey to ask what it was.
“Okay. What sort of medication did I not see you take?”
“I messed up my back so bad ten years ago I was forced to quit the tour. Whenever I’m on my feet for hours on end, it becomes painful. Even with acetaminophen, I won’t take more than I absolutely need to take the edge off.”
Tour? The pro golf tour. I gawked at him as the bits and pieces came together in my mind. “Oh, my God. You’re August Howard. I saw you play at Augusta in the Open. You were really good and then you vanished.”
He grimaced. “Two weeks after Augusta, I unloaded on a tee shot and hit the ground. Herniated disc. Pinched nerves. Two surgeries. No…more…golf.” He pushed the empty water glass in my direction and reached for his coffee. “I can’t even play a par three course now.”
The grief in his voice was palpable. I thought I understood. The guy had had the world by the ass. Money, fame, recognition - and it vanished in a second. Not only had the talent he’d been given been rendered useless, he now lived with physical pain. What did one say in the face of his loss?
“I’m so sorry, man.”
His angry gaze locked with mine. We stared at each other. I refused to blink. To my surprise, his features softened and he took a deep breath as he searched my face.
“I think you mean that, don’t you?” he asked, his voice pitched low to almost a whisper.
“Yeah, August. I do. I can’t imagine losing a dream like that.”
He almost smiled. “Who said golf was my dream?”
I did smile. “You know what they say. Don’t kid a kidder.”
He rapped his knuckles on the bar and slid off the barstool. “We have work to do, kidder. We should get to it so everyone can get out of here and go home for the night.”
I grabbed his arm, stopping him. “Hey. Did we just have a moment?”
August grinned and walked away.