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Tracy knows that Brendan is perfect for her. But only for now.
She has a list there’s no escaping that he doesn’t meet the most important requirements on it. Still, there’s nothing wrong with hanging out with him-or whatever it is they call what they’re doing- especially if it helps maintain her well-ordered life and curb some of her more self-destructive habits. At least until she meets a man more suitable for a serious, long-term attachment.
But soon, as secrets and lies from her past are exposed, Tracy begins to question whether she can ever be the kind of woman Brendan deserves.
And making matters worse, she’s beginning to wish more than anything that she could.
WHERE IT BEGINS:
Tracy learns from her best friend, Riley that Brendan, the quintessential bachelor is getting serious about someone. Having once been pursued by Brendan, Tracy is curious to meet the woman who has tamed Brendan with whom she was once good friends. When she sees him, she is surprised by the feelings that are aroused, and begins to wonder whether he might not be worth considering after all, if only as a temporary thing.
EXCERPT FROM ‘UNSUITABLE MEN’:
Brendan was standing at the door. He was wearing a white polo, chinos with brown loafers and looked like someone who had just come from a cruise; relaxed and at ease. Maybe it was because he was in the presence of old friends, but Tracy feared that it might be something else. Like maybe the young woman at his side. She had a fashionable tousled pixie-cut and the perfectly-even oval-shaped face ideal to pull it off; she was pretty and petite, and wore a denim summer dress and bright white tennis shoes. Tracy expected her to be attractive and she was, though that was not what shook her. What she wasn’t able to process, couldn’t even bring herself to look directly at, was the unpleasant fact that Brendan was holding her hand.
He never held women’s hands. On the very few occasions when Brendan had brought women around, Tracy had been relegated to guessing whether they were dates or not. Most of the time, it was the women who staked their claim, touching him in some way to demonstrate that he was with them. Brendan never did that kind of thing, and particularly not around her. But this time, he seemed not to intend to let go of this woman’s hand, even when he realized Tracy was there.
Riley was right. It was serious.
“Tracy,” he said, his face breaking out into a smile. “Stranger!”
Tracy stood and returned his smile, maintaining it even when he brought Meghan along as he came toward her. At least he let the girl go long enough to hug her. Meghan was probably only about five-foot four, which to Tracy’s mind made her a ridiculous match for Brendan who was an imposing six-five.
“It’s been awhile,” he said.
“It was a few months ago,” Tracy acknowledged, nodding.
“I missed you, Trace,” he said.
Tracy’s smile faltered. “You too,” she mumbled.
“Did you?” Brendan grinned at her. “Miss me?”
He had the best smile. It wasn’t all lips and teeth, his entire face smiled; so that his eyes practically disappeared. It was a full-faced, charming, boyish smile that made everyone—including most women, Tracy noted sourly—practically surrender at his feet.
Who was he to smile at her like that? Asshole.
Tracy felt her face grow hot with her blush.
“So,” she said briskly, looking at Meghan. “I’m Tracy . . .”
“Tracy’s been Riley’s friend since college,” Brendan explained to Meghan.
“Yes,” Tracy said pointedly, stung by the implication that she was only Riley’s friend and not his. “A friend of Riley’s.”
She took Meghan’s hand and shook it briefly.
“Nice to meet you,” Meghan said smiling. “I think I’ve heard Riley mention you a few times.”
Tracy resented the implication that Meghan and Riley, Brendan and Shawn had socialized together in her absence. But clearly that had been the case. And it wasn’t as though Tracy had her own plus-one to bring to these little gatherings. Great; so now Meghan was moving in on her best friend as well as her . . . as well as Brendan. She had slightly crooked bottom teeth, Tracy noted with pleasure, and her lips were a little too thin. She was pretty, but nothing to write home about, for sure.
“Meghan, can I get you something to drink?” Riley asked from behind them.
“If you’ve got a red, that would be great. Thanks,” Meghan said.
“Sure. Merlot? Malbec? What’s your preference?”
“Why don’t I come see what you have?” Meghan suggested. She followed Riley over to the bar so that Tracy and Brendan were left alone for the moment. Tracy sipped her wine and looked again out to the pool. She should have brought a swimsuit. She had a brand new white one that made her breasts look like ‘pow!’
“So what’s been up with you?”
Brendan reached out and ran a hand down her arm to get her attention. Tracy instinctively jerked away from his touch and his smile faltered for a second. For a moment she felt badly for making him think she didn’t like it when he touched her. Problem was, as she recalled, she liked it too much.
“I should be the one asking that,” Tracy said. She cursed herself for sounding like she was accusing him of something.
“Well you know I transitioned at work, right? So now I’m back in NYC. Getting used to being stationary is an adjustment.”
“You seem to be making out just fine,” she said, drinking more of her wine.
Brendan leaned in, his eyes searching hers. “What’s with the attitude?” he asked softly.
She didn’t mean to give him attitude. She meant to be as cool as a cucumber. But she was still a little thrown off by the hand-holding. Not that she was jealous or anything, it was just . . . unexpected was all. And Brendan was supposed to be her friend as well. How was it that he’d never mentioned that he was serious about someone? How was it that he’d gotten serious with someone and hadn’t bothered to try to see her these past few months? Not so much as a phone call to invite her for drinks. Or just the phone call, for that matter. They used to talk on the phone all the time. It was something she had looked forward to, especially with Riley newly married and all. She had missed him. And evidently while she was doing that, he was dating Little Meghan.
“No attitude intended,” she said looking up at him. “And I am happy to see you, Brendan. Even if I . . .”
“Whew,” Meghan returned with a glass of red wine in hand. “It’s a scorcher today, isn’t it?”
“Hellish,” Tracy agreed.
The themes of ‘Unsuitable Men’ are self-knowledge and self-acceptance. Tracy, the main character is vain, self-centered and has very rigid preconceptions of who she is and the life she wants to have.
But who she is, and the life she leads on the surface is very different from the reality. Her friendship and developing connection with Brendan, a man she labels as wholly “unsuitable” for a long-term relationship becomes the catalyst for her to begin to challenge everything she used to think about herself, her past, present and future.