“So anyway,” he continues. “I took a gander at the itinerary you emailed us.” His voice almost flips into a laugh at the word itinerary. Probably not a great sign. “Methinks we may need to make a few adjustments.”
“What do you mean?” I do my best to match Patrick’s jokey tone. “I covered all the bases. Golf, beer, gambling…”
“You sure did.” He takes a swig from his bottle. “But come on, man. You have us watching all four days of the Travelers Championship. It’d be nice to actually play some golf one day.”
“I figured you’d want to watch Bucky on TV—since he can’t be here in person and all.”
“Bro,” Patrick deadpans. “Don’t tell me you still have your stupid thing against Bucky.”
“I don’t have a thing against Bucky,” I insist. “I just think it’s interesting that he’s the only groomsman who declined my invitation.”
Patrick rolls his eyes. “I know you’re not that into sports, but Bucky is an elite golfer right now. He was in the top half of the leaderboard at the Masters! He can’t be missing tournaments just to party with us. That’d be, like, forfeiting potentially millions of dollars. Plus he’ll lose his PGA Tour card if he doesn’t play in enough events.”
Here he goes again. Acting like Bucky is some kind of god just because he swings a golf club around on TV every weekend. Meanwhile, I was promoted to senior counsel two months ago—but did he gush to his other friends about that? No. (The fact that I hate my job notwithstanding…it was technically still an accomplishment.)
“Yeah, no. It’s fine.” I dig my feet further into the sand. “We can book a tee time. I don’t know if I’ll play, but you and Wilson and Greeny can—”
“We’ll figure it out,” Patrick says. “That’s not what I was talking about anyway. I couldn’t help but notice that your schedule has one, uh, glaring omission.”
“What do you mean?” I ask—desperate for him to answer with something like “you forgot movie night” or “we should do a wine tasting” or “the Sunday brunch menu is all breakfast and no lunch.” (But I mean, really. What kind of cretin actually cares about the “unch” in brunch?)
“I’ll give you a hint.” His mouth stretches into a smirk. “It rhymes with…knits.”
“Um.” I rub my eyes in an effort to unsee the giant fake breasts that have just bounced into my mind like a pair of self-dribbling basketballs. “I don’t follow.”
“Cut the shit.” Patrick laughs, revealing some new crow’s feet around his eyes. They’re handsome on him, even if they do slightly remind me of Ted. “Listen, I don’t really want strippers myself—the entire concept is weird. Who wants to pop a woody surrounded by their closest friends?” He laughs again. “But with the crew that’s coming here this weekend, we have to accept that it’s inevitable. I can’t stop Wilson from doing what Wilson is gonna do.”
“But Kate!” I protest. “You promised her we’d keep it clean.”
“I was worried this would happen.” Patrick stands up and squeezes my shoulders from behind my chair. “Okay. So remember in high school, before you were gay?”
“I was gay in high school,” I tell him. “I just wasn’t out.”
“You know what I mean.” He tightens his grip. “I’m just trying to remind you of a time when you were better at adhering to Bro Code—one of the most important rules of which is don’t tell wives and girlfriends incriminating shit. Bros before hoes.”
“That is such a juvenile and sexist little idiom.” I try to sound assertive, but it’s no use. Patrick’s display of dominance makes me feel twelve years old again. Like we’re playing Truth or Dare by flashlight in the lighthouse shed. “Kate would be crushed if she knew there were women here this weekend.” I consider going into detail about how she literally threatened to cancel their wedding over this, but think better of it. “And she’s gonna ask—”
“That’s exactly why you need to do me a solid here. She trusts you. If you tell her nothing happened, she’ll believe it.” Patrick’s fingers are basically melded into my clavicle at this point. “I love Kate—obviously. I would never do anything to hurt her. But this is just one of those situations where what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”
Perhaps that’s true, but what about my karma? While I understand what Patrick is saying about Bro Code, lying to Kate would be betraying a totally different code to which I’m also bound. The fact that I’m gay and friends with his fiancée should exempt me from Patrick’s antiquated gender expectations altogether.
“Come on,” I attempt. “Kate’s my…”
“I’ve always had your back.”
He somehow manages to squeeze even harder. “Dom.”
And that settles it.
I’ll just have to suck it up. Regardless of our differences, Patrick’s right. He has always been there for me. He’s gotten into fist fights for me—the AIM bully incident was just the first of several in which he had to step in after I talked shit I couldn’t back up with my own knuckles. (Listen, I was an angsty teen.) I owe him.
Plus his death grip is telling me I don’t have a choice in the matter, anyway.
“Alright, man.” I wriggle free and stand up to face him. “Fine.”
“You have to say it,” he demands.
I’m an inch taller than him, but somehow he towers over me.
“Say what?” I ask.
“That you won’t tell Kate anything about this weekend.” All jokiness has vanished from his voice. He’s not messing around. “What happens in Mystic…”
“Stays in Mystic.” I swallow the boulder of dread that’s been forming in my throat and take a breath. I knew something bad was going to happen this weekend. And it’s only Wednesday. “Got it.”
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