DJ Traub's back in town and opening one of his famous Rib Shacks right here in Thunder Canyon and the food's not the only thing that's delicious there!
Gorgeous DJ has definitely changed over the years. But one thing has remained constant: his secret love for the beautiful Allaire. Life didn't work out the way these two best friends had planned, though, especially with Allaire's disastrous marriage to DJ's dashing brother, Dax.
But we're not in high school anymore. I've seen the way that Allaire looks at DJ--and I don't think friendship is on her mind. Maybe Allaire can convince him that nice guys can finish first....
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Her Best Man by Crystal Green
One would think Allaire Traub would be smart enough to recognize her best friend across a parking lot. But when she first saw him, she had no idea it was the man she used to call "her D.J."
Tori Jones, Allaire's friend and fellow teacher, spotted him first as they walked into the parking lot of Thunder Canyon High School. Both her and Allaire's arms were loaded with lesson plans and workbooks, their cheeks already reddened by a cool September wind.
"Please tell me that's one of my students' parents just dropping in for a conference," Tori said.
Trying to get a bead on who her friend was referring to, Allaire whisked a strand of blond hair out of her eyes. Across the lot, the school band practiced their competition show. A coach's whistle trilled from the football field to the east.
Her gaze soon fell on a man standing with his back to them, hands in his jeans pockets while he watched the band easing into formation. His shoulders were broad beneath his suede-and-sheepskin coat, his dark brown hair tufted by the same breeze that was presently sending a shiver over Allaire herself.
Without quite knowing what she was doing, she well-muscled legs. His stance was casual, confident. Her art teacher's fingers itched to shape him, to sculpt and feel.
But...nope, not for her, even if she did like what she saw. These days, Allaire didn't have the will to invest herself in dating, much less the emotion it took to be intimate with someone. Divorce had sapped the energy right out of her and, even if her marriage had dissolved four years ago, it didn't feel like enough time had passed to "get out there" again.
However, four years was enough time to get into the habit of being a single woman who depended only on herself, and Allaire had discovered she hadn't minded that so much.
She shot Tori an encouraging grin. "You'd better hope he's not the parent of a failing student. That'd be fun."
The strawberry-blonde shrugged good-naturedly, wrinkling her nose as she smiled, too. A light spray of freckles added a pixie-like vibe to Tori's short, wispy haircut. She was so hip that you could tell she'd moved here from a big city like Denver.
"Please," Tori said. "I don't mix business with pleasure. Look but don't touch. That's what I say--unless the looking comes during my off hours."
"More power to you then...." Allaire trailed off as the man across the parking lot turned around.
It was as if he'd been tuned in to her presence, sensing the moment she'd walked out of the school. Then again, it'd always been that way with the two of them.
A couple of peas in a pod, Allaire thought, as the man in the sheepskin coat smiled at her.
"D.J.?" she whispered.
He sauntered toward them while the band started to play, horns blaring and echoing through a big blue sky already painted with strokes of pinkened clouds.
"Who's D.J.?" Tori asked.
Good question, Allaire thought. Who was Dalton James Traub nowadays? She'd thought she'd known the answer all those years ago, when they'd been best friends throughout school.
When he'd been the best man at her wedding to his older brother, Dax.
Allaire paused, then smiled, the gesture weighing on her lips. "D.J."s a...pal. Someone I haven't seen in a long, long time."
"Then I'll leave you to him," Tori said. "I need to get home and grade a batch of essays about Moby Dick, anyway. And, truly, I just can't wait to read all the veiled phallic jokes in store for me. Wish me patience and good humor?"
All Allaire could do was nod as her friend headed toward her compact car. The wind flirted with Tori's oversized coat and jaunty red scarf as she left Allaire to fend for herself.
Not only had she not seen D.J. in years, she hadn't talked to him in a long, long time, either. They'd started floating apart ten years ago after graduation, when he'd gone across the country for college. She'd seen him at her wedding, of course, but things had been too crazy for them to really enjoy each other's company. Then he'd left Thunder Canyon for good, except for a quick trip to his dad's funeral five years ago, just before she and Dax had divorced. Even then, she and her old friend hadn't talked to any extent--she'd just seen D.J. at the service, and he'd disappeared immediately afterward.
Stung, she'd been reluctant to call or e-mail, thinking he was avoiding her for a reason, probably because of her strained marriage to his brother. She'd even believed that D.J. might be taking Dax's side, even if they weren't the closest of brothers. She didn't know why that was--neither D.J. nor Dax ever wanted to talk about it. Still, blood was thicker than water, so she hadn't chanced the contact with D.J., afraid of how much an official rejection from him would hurt.
Now, as he approached, his gait slowed. He actually seemed more self-aware with each closing step.