Home > Mansplainer (Last Man Standing #3)

Mansplainer (Last Man Standing #3)
Author: Avery Flynn

 


Chapter One


   Nash

   December 1st…

   “I’m getting married. Tomorrow. You’re all invited.”

   If there was anything Nashville “Nash” Beckett could have said to make his entire family go silent for all of ten seconds, that was it. Not that he had planned it to go any differently. When he wanted to make a point, move a plan into action, or motivate an entire room full of the most stubborn and opinionated people in the entire world (aka his family), he knew how to make it happen. That’s why he’d known challenging his cousins, Griff and Dixon, to the Last Man Standing bet after their grandma Betty died was always going to end in success.

   Manipulative? Him?

   Only when he needed to get his family to do what needed to be done for their own good.

   The rules of the bet were simple: Each cousin had to go on six dates with the first woman who answered their dating bios on the Bramble app. The cousin who didn’t end up in love by Christmas would officially be named the Last Man Standing and win the most important prize ever: the last Christmas present their beloved grandma Betty left wrapped but untagged.

   And he wanted that prize. Bad.

   With his other two cousins now deeply in love, he only had to last six dates to be named the winner. Which was why he’d found a loophole, of course. Marriage.

   All the Becketts stared bug-eyed at him as they sat around the long table in one of the private dining rooms at Le Hibou, which, despite its name, didn’t serve owls (thank fucking God) or French food (again, thank fucking God). It was, however, one of the best (and only) vegan burger joints in Harbor City, which he’d insisted they eat at frequently so his sister, who was the only vegan in the group, didn’t always have to be the one scouring the menu for vegan dishes. And honestly, with a restaurant named The Owl, Nash was glad there was no meat being served.

   He absently rubbed at his stomach as he glanced around at the decor.

   There was a whole owl motif going on, and the chef had named all the burgers after different owls. Now, Nash wouldn’t say that the look of the owls fit the look of the people who ordered that type of burger, but he wasn’t not saying it, either.

   For example, when Nash made his announcement about his wedding, his bearded, tatted-up cousin Griff had been digging into a double-patty Impossible melt called the Whiskered Screech Owl. The man looked like someone you’d cross the street to avoid, and he was prickly enough to be more than happy that people made that assumption, since it usually saved him from having to make small talk. So it was absolutely no shocker Griff was the first Beckett to go back to eating his food at the exact moment when everyone else at the table finished processing Nash’s words.

   There was a heartbeat more of blessed silence before all the talking started—translation, hollering—about a million questions at once. In other words, it was a gathering of Becketts.

   Finally, one voice broke through the noise.

   “You are so full of shit,” his cousin Dixon said and then lifted Fiona’s left hand up and kissed it, nearly blinding the room with the light reflecting off the huge diamond engagement ring on her finger.

   “Well, actually,” Nash said as he squirted ketchup onto his Great Horned Owl, aka a cheeseburger with onion straws. “I’m not. The ceremony is at her apartment. Ten in the morning. The dress code is business casual. There will be a reception afterward. Gifts are not necessary. Now, go back to eating.”

   Nash knew there was no way they wouldn’t show up tomorrow. This bunch was far too curious—fine, too nosy as hell—to skip it.

   News delivered and orders given, he went back to eating his burger. Damn, it was fucking delicious.

   Everyone at the table continued to gawk at him as he did the smart thing, the logical thing, and continued to eat the best vegan burger in Harbor City while they ignored theirs. They’d regret that. Cold burgers were still good, but nothing like the brain-bending goodness of a warm one. He was about to explain that in detail to them when the giggles started. It began with his sister, Bristol, of course, but pretty soon the whole table was laughing.

   Finally catching her breath after her giggle fit, Bristol wiped away a tear of amusement. “Can you imagine?” She used her fork to point at him from her spot at the other end of the table. “This guy? Married?”

   Morgan, Griff’s little sister, shook her head. “He’d spend so much time explaining how marriages work to his poor fiancée, she’d fall asleep before the proposal.”

   “Or he’d mansplain how she should feel about engagement rings,” Bristol added.

   Should he be offended? Maybe, but this was his family, and despite how much he might pretend the opposite was true, he knew their assessment was fair. Not that he’d admit it. He had his reasons, and they knew that. There was a reason why everyone always came to him with their questions and problems—he always knew what to do.

   When his mom got stuck in Waterbury because she’d forgotten to pay her cell phone bill—again—he outlined exactly how to set up automatic payments. Information his mom had ignored, per usual. When his brother, Macon, needed help getting his literary agency off the ground? Nash had been there with a business plan within thirty minutes before his brother even got a chance to ask for it. When Bristol had bought that money pit of a house and had no idea where to go for renovation help? He’d outlined her options, developed a pros-and-cons list about contractors, and when she’d ignored him because, as she’d said, she hadn’t even asked for his help in the first place, he’d emailed the entire document to her anyway and put in calls to a few of his contacts so she wouldn’t get ripped off.

   He knew things, and sharing that information was just what he did.

   “Is it wrong that I spend enough time reading focus-group reports that I have insight into how people think and how they act?” Nash asked. “I’m literally everyone’s best resource. Hell, I’m the family Google.”

   “Oh my God, Nash. I love you, but you are a dick,” Macon blurted out and then looked down to the other end of the table and cringed. “Sorry, Mom.”

   Okay, so he had a habit of overexplaining things—even when no one asked for additional information (Bristol and the contractors weren’t the only time that had happened). And yes, he had gotten in the habit of anticipating other’s moods and reactions, which came in really handy in developing marketing and advertising campaigns at Beckett Cosmetics. He had to know women, the largest percentage of their customer base—although the number of men and nonbinary folks in the makeup and skincare sector was growing—and what would appeal to them. Add to that the fact that he’d grown up as the de facto responsible one who remembered for his parents when the utility bill was due, or to pick up Bristol after her Girl Scouts meeting, or where Macon’s baseball team was playing…it was just his wheelhouse.

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