Who knew Tom Ford could look so bad?
The first time Preston Lanay had been called dapper, he was lining up a shot on the seven ball in his older brother, Derek's dark charcoal Tom Ford suit.
He barked out a dry laugh, because of course a green-haired woman wearing a 'Detroit Pistons' t shirt would call him 'dapper' before his own boyfriend, Ross, did.
Eleven minutes later, he won the game and got decked in the jaw by his opponent as a prize. The girl that had called him dapper had vanished like a mirage his mind had cooked up to impel him to survive in desert. Preston was as out of place wearing a $5000 suit in the vape smoke-choked pool hall as a green haired woman wearing a Detroit Pistons T shirt would be in an actual desert.
“Sorry, Pres, I know you're mouthy, but you're cut off. Go before they make me call the cops.” Owen the gruff, black-clad bouncer pressed his broad hand against the back of the silk suit.
He hadn't even started it, well not really. It's not their fault the out-of-towners were sore losers.
It wasn't until he was under the harsh street light he noticed the blood on the lapel of a suit that cost nearly triple his rent.
“Well, fuck, hadn't this day just gone to the dogs.” Preston muttered to himself, edging out of the way of a couple walking past, fingers laced.
Sucking his burst open lip, he dug through the breast pocket of the suit, the back of his fingers brushing past and ignoring the velvet ring box to get to the plastic bic lighter, and a spliff he had rolled earlier.
His phone vibrated in the back pocket of his suit. It had to be his boy---
ex. Ross was now his Ex-Boyfriend.
He ignored it in favor of lighting the spliff. Weed wasn't technically legal yet in North Carolina, but at this point, he'd take a cop cuffing him and booking him for a night over whatever punishment his older brother Derek would get him for probably ruining his best suit.
He took a toke.
Derek had let him wear it to propose to Ross. Preston had begged the taller for three weeks, promising nothing would happen to it. He needed to look good. Look the part be the part.
Ross always looked dapper.
He had a thick head of blonde hair, blazing green eyes...in fact now that he thought about it, they were probably the color of that woman's hair. His ex had a skin care routine to rival an influencer's, with a salary to match working at Deloitte.
Preston had never known what Ross saw in a boat mechanic like him, but he now knew it couldn't have been that much since not five hours and twenty minutes earlier he had caught Ross in the drivers' seat of his new Audi with his face tucked into the neck of another man.
He shivered, thinking of how Ross had had his lips on the underside of his adam's apple not yesterday.
How long had it been going on? How long had Ross been joking with his other colleagues at Deloitte he was slumming it with some loser grease monkey while shacking up with the competition from KPMG?
He took another drag.
Derek had never warmed to Ross, said it was something in his style, or maybe he said smile.
Either way, sooner or later he was going to get the 'I told you so' talk from his happily married brother while owing him for a suit that would take the better part of a year to replace.
His phone buzzed again. A zip of flame ignited deep in his chest where a sticky, black wet tar had settled in. He wanted to take out his phone and spike it against the sidewalk. He wanted to reset his life, start over, become someone else.
Someone who didn't fall for green eyes.
Someone who didn't buy a tungsten ring for their boyfriend of three years.
Someone who didn't wear his older brother's suit, make a reservation at a restaurant he still couldn't pronounce to be romantic on the fourteenth of feb---
“Hey Dapper Dan, Can I have a hit of that? I've had the shittiest valentine's day.”
The phrase pulled Preston out of his thoughts like a marlin reeled over the rail of a schooner.
His blurry eyes cut to the left.
The woman with green hair.
“Name's Kelly. Like the green.” He fingers her hair, but he notices her eyes are brown.
“Preston,” he offers the spliff.
“I like Dapper Dan bettter.”
Preston grins. Wouldn't it be nice to become dapper dan.
Power in Numbers