Page 2 of Eight Dates

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“It’s my gift,” Aaron repeated, like that answered Ben’s question. When Ben said nothing else, Aaron sighed and sat back, crossing his arms and using his legs to keep the chair from wobbling. “I did a bunch of research, and this app seems to be one of the better ones on the market. So far, no reports of stalkers,” he said, like that was somehow a selling point. “And the majority of people on here are older than your students.”

“Well, thank God for small favors,” Ben said dryly.

“I’m saying it’s not just for hooking up,” Aaron said, giving Ben a flat look. “There are people on here who want real relationships.”

Ben clenched his jaw tightly, trying not to let his frustration take over. He felt like a broken record at this point, trying to explain to both his brother and his mom that he wasn’t looking for a relationship. He was still putting together the piece of his life after his cheating, asshole ex had upended his reality.

He didn’t really understand why his mom and brother were so fixated on him getting dick on the regular.

“I’ll think about it,” Ben said, ready to hurry the conversation along. He didn’t bother telling Aaron that as far as Chanukah presents went, downloading an app on his phone and implying he needed to get back into a relationship wasn’t his best work so far. “I’m doing finals prep for all my classes, so I’ll think about doing a profile after—”


Ben folded his hands on his desk and raised his brows at his brother. “I’m sorry?”

“See, I knew you were going to say that. I knew you’d find some way to try and pacify me so you could get out of at least trying to put yourself out there, but it’s been years since…”

Ben pinched the bridge of his nose and lost the rest of his words. That always happened whenever someone mentioned the T-word in Ben’s presence.


The cheater.

The asshole.

The ex.

It wasn’t like he wanted to think about the man who had spent their entire relationship pretending to give a shit about Ben before being caught balls-deep in Ben’s TA.

In Ben’s car.

But he was tired of people dancing around the subject like it was going to shatter him to hear his ex’s name. If that were the case, he’d have to quit his job, considering half his students with Alpha Delta Lambda pins had some variation of it. It also helped that Ben wasn’t a fragile person.

Quite the opposite. At least, he liked to think. He’d always been a sort of stoic, no-nonsense kind of guy. It was one of the qualities his mom loved reminding him would prevent him from being able to settle down with a nice man.

Ben took that as a compliment though. He didn’t want to be the kind of doormat Taylor had wanted him to be. He knew one of the reasons Taylor had cheated was because he didn’t think Ben was going to put up a fight. He didn’t think Ben would have the balls to confront him, even when he was caught, literally, with his pants down.

Ben wanted to believe that should have given him some credit, at least regarding the strength of his own person, but apparently, his mom and brother thought different. He fought back a sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose. He had no idea what else he could do to convince them he was fine.

Ben had spoken to his department head to have Chris removed as his TA, he sold his car, and even switched offices. Hell, he accepted the crappy university furniture just to avoid being anywhere near anything Chris had touched with his gross, boyfriend fucking hands.

There wasn’t much more Ben could do apart from setting his apartment on fire and using the insurance claim to build a little cottage in the middle of nowhere. Provided he wasn’t arrested for fraud and arson and sent to jail. Though with the way his brother was staring at him like he was Ben’s holiday miracle, he was starting to think a stint in jail might be a vacation.

“Sorry,” Aaron said at Ben’s continued silence. “I didn’t mean to…”

“Be an asshole?” Ben offered. He folded his hands and rested his chin on his curled knuckles, smiling at his brother.

Aaron’s cheeks pinked, but he didn’t try to defend himself. “You and I both know that you never get anything done unless you’re backed into a corner. And you and I both know you hate being alone.”

Ben wanted to tell Aaron he was projecting. Sure, Ben could be a master at the whole “fake it ’til you make it” thing, and living alone again after Taylor left had been an adjustment, but Ben wasn’t going to fall apart because Taylor was no longer in bed with him, drunk on cheap beer and calling his sloppy attempt at a hand job romance.

“We both also know you won’t actually do anything about it, so I took the liberty,” Aaron went on, leaning forward again. He touched a button on the side menu of Ben’s phone screen, which opened up the calendar again. “Since neither one of us cares a whole lot about Chanukah”—nowthatwas true. They’d never been big on the holiday—“I decided your gift this year was eight dates.”

Ben blinked at him. “Eight dates. As in…”

“As in, I spent two days perusing profiles and have made you one blind date per night.”

“Of Chanukah,” Ben said flatly.