Relative Best

Hotel owner and part-time musician Zeke Bandy is too busy for love. His plate is full running the historic Bandy Hotel and upholding his family’s tradition of offering refuge to strays and runaways. For fun two nights a week, Zeke also plays and sings traditional folk music with his rewritten gay lyrics at the Stonewall Saloon and for occasional celebrations.

Then at a gay wedding, Zeke meets Victor Longbow, who just might be the man of his dreams.

However, Vic isn’t looking for love either. In fact, because of his upbringing in a strict, white foster family, Vic’s not sure he believes in love. He’s in Stone Acres to open a branch office of a national brokerage firm. He also hopes to track down a vintage photo of what might be his Native American ancestor.

After their paths cross, they become friends. Connected by their experiences as orphans raised by flawed fathers, Zeke and Vic wonder if their future could possibly hold love and family or if they are destined only to be lifelong friends.



I bumped into Vic in the foyer. He invited me to lunch on the condition that I’d get us there and back. I agreed since I was starving and I could practice flirting with him. Two birds for the price of one stone.

“Let’s see. Would you consider this a date?” I teased.

“Oh yeah, since I’m taking you to dinner tonight.”

“You are?” I didn’t know whether he was teasing or serious.

“Yup. We’re going to the Silver Star, where I’ve heard we’ll get a four-star meal.”

“Oh. Yeah? Okay.” I was stunned and flustered. I’d never eaten at Stone Acres’ four-star restaurant. Was this really happening to me? Where could I take him that would impress him? “Let me take you to the best restaurant around.” I grabbed the keys to my truck from the board behind him.

“Better than the gourmet place everyone’s been telling me about?” He sounded skeptical.


“Oh yeah. Best American diner food in the area. Best you could ever eat.” I stepped out the back door and led him to where the truck was parked. “Unless you don’t eat American food.”

“What do you mean? Are you saying something about me looking like a Navajo?”

He didn’t sound particularly angry or even upset. All he looked was gorgeous and way out of my experience.

“Naw. I was implying that you might be a New Age vegetarian who didn’t believe in things like bacon or sausage or biscuits and gravy.” I got in and slammed my door.

“Lead on. I can eat a skinny guy like you under the table.”

Even though I thought I heard seduction underneath his flirting before, we seemed to have stepped onto the buddy platform now. In a way I felt relieved. Buddies, I could do.

He’d stopped walking and was staring at the truck. “This thing works?”

“You kidding? Get in. Things don’t need to be beautiful to work just fine.” Take me, for example, maybe not a gem, but all parts were working great, thank you.

My 1972 Ford pickup with its beat-up sides and jutting bed looked a little like it was sniffing the ground, trying to figure out if Vic was friend or foe. The chassis might look like it had led a hard life—which it had—but the engine was in top-notch shape. Del at the Old Town Garage kept it in pristine condition, mostly because he said he was going to buy it from me someday and give it a facelift.

I drove us to the Rock Bottom Cafe, a roadside diner run by a couple of friends. This would be a true test of how compatible we were. If he hated the Bottom, then he hated me, and we had no future even as friends.


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