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    Laura S. Fox
  • Author
  • 6,135 Words
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Good Guys Don't Date Bad Boys - 36. What’s That Word… Context?

Chapter Thirty-Six – What’s That Word… Context?

“Are you worried about something?” Jonathan felt the need to ask, while taking in Maddox’s slightly drawn face. His pretty features were tinged with a new kind of sadness and made him look more mature, but that didn’t mean Jonathan enjoyed seeing his boyfriend suffer. Yes, he was thinking of Maddox as pretty, despite what he had told Rusty about guys not liking to be called that. As long as he was thinking it, not saying it out loud, there would be no incredulous glares directed at him, so it was fine.

It was Sunday evening, and everyone was back from their short Thanksgiving break. Jonathan had been waiting for Maddox, eager to see him again, and maybe to gather the courage to tell him the same words Rusty had wrenched out of him. Timing was everything, and right now, seeing Maddox troubled like that, it didn’t feel like a good time at all.

Maddox lay on his belly on the bed and he was munching on his bottom lip. They had kissed briefly, and Jonathan had felt butterflies in his stomach as he anticipated how it would feel to be in Maddox’s room again, both sharing the same space, thinking of the same thing.

Only they weren’t thinking of the same thing, and Jonathan withdrew into himself, not wanting to behave like a horny teenager with disregard for the other’s internal suffering. He placed a sympathetic hand on Maddox’s shoulder and began massaging it. “Is it about your parents?” He lay on one side, so he had an unhindered view of Maddox’s frown and the drooping corners of his mouth.

“Well, they didn’t take it well at all, as I told you,” Maddox eventually replied.

“Maybe it was too soon?” Jonathan offered.

Maddox gave him a glare. “Too soon?”

He was somehow saying the wrong things. “I don’t know. We’ve only been seeing each other for a few months.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Apparently, any word he said was just a shovelful of dirt out of the huge hole he was digging for himself.

“Nothing,” he hurried to say.

The beautiful gray eyes narrowed at him. “Are you kidding me?” Maddox scoffed and looked away. “I thought we were serious.” The last words came out quietly.

“We are,” Jonathan said in a defensive tone and let his hand slip from Maddox’s shoulder. “It’s only that it might not look the same to the outside world, that’s all. I mean, it would be a different thing if we had dated for a year or two. In their eyes, I mean.” Usually, he was considerably more articulate when it came to what went out of his mouth.

“Hmm.” Maddox rested his chin on top of his crossed forearms and let out a long sigh.

Jonathan began caressing his head, running his fingers through the dark hair. It didn’t take long for Maddox to start purring, which was definitely a lot better than awkward conversation.

“Are you going to introduce me to your parents?”

The question took Jonathan a bit by surprise. Maddox at his parents’ estate took some effort of imagination, for no other reason than his parents never invited anyone over who wasn’t of the same station. He could easily imagine the priceless look on their faces, and he didn’t want to expose Maddox to that sort of judgmental behavior. A sudden and strong feeling of possession and over-protectiveness washed over him.

His silence was misinterpreted. “Don’t tell me you didn’t even about think it,” Maddox said in a sharp tone and turned his head to give him a hard look.

Jonathan felt like shriveling on the inside under those hurt eyes. “Yes, of course, I did,” he said, and even to his own ears, he sounded unconvincing.

Maddox frowned and looked away. Jonathan didn’t know what to do to make it better. As long as they lived their relationship here, in the large cocoon that was the campus of Sunny Hill, everything went fine. The troubles began, apparently, when they tried to take it out into the real world. It hadn’t worked with Maddox’s parents, who, according to their son, were kind-hearted and open-minded.

“Look,” he said, “it’s not like we’re about to ask for their blessing. We’ll convince them all in due time. Until then, we have finals, and a lot of work to do.”

“Fine,” Maddox agreed, but he did so in an exasperated tone. “So, you don’t want to spend the night?”

Jonathan wanted to say that he would like to, but he sensed that he had blundered enough. “We should both get some rest,” he replied.

He leaned over and kissed Maddox’s cheek. He could tell his boyfriend was pissed, but something told him that even if he stayed, things wouldn’t have gotten better, either. Sometimes, people just needed a little bit of space.


The name of the game? Secret love affair. (Of course, nothing’s ever too secret when Xpress is on the job.)

The stars of the game? This is where things are getting juicy… and by that, we’re telling you, guys and gals, you’re gonna lick the cookie bowl clean, once you hear the names of those involved.

First, the sexy, the mysterious, the too-good-to-be-true… cue drums! Jonathan Hamilton! Yes, the accomplished new sensation of junior year, the one who made Maddox Kingsley reevaluate his sexuality from the ground up, is in the headline!

Second, our very own college idol, the veritable king of Sunny Hill, the guy famous for making the world tour (the world we live in, here, at our campus) in eighty beds or more… ta-da! Rusty Parker!

But what do these two have in common? You may ask. Aside from the fact that one’s Maddox Kingsley’s official boyfriend, and the other’s the same guy’s bestie for life, anyone would feel tempted to say ‘not much’. Jonathan Hamilton dresses to impress when he goes out to buy popsicles. Rusty Parker just throws anything that happens to be in his way on his perfect muscular body … yet he still manages to look perfect.

Where one has a perfect GPA score, the other barely makes it from one exam to the next.

Where one is clearly some one-percenter’s offspring, the other comes from a broken home.

Where… you catch our drift, right?

Well, as the old adage goes, opposites attract! Thanksgiving break proved the perfect opportunity for these two opposites to meet and…

Well, let’s allow the pictures to do the talking for us! Stay tuned, this story is not going to die soon. And we’re here, ready to provide you with new tasty tidbits as we wait for the drama to unfold.

Lastly, a few questions for our heroes:

Maddox Kingsley, have you decided to share your boyfriend with your bestie or…?

Jonathan Hamilton, are you a superhero? Flipping two one-hundred-percent straight guys in just half a year must be classified as a superpower. We’re just saying!

Rusty Parker, are you going to disappoint all the girls on campus you haven’t gotten to seduce yet? That would be a mistake…


Maddox didn’t like how he had let things go with Jonathan the night before. Obviously, he had made the guy uncomfortable and caused him to feel judged. And he had looked forward so much to getting together again. That short kiss they had shared didn’t count as much, and now he was itching to find a way to persuade Jonathan to forget about studying for about one hour so that they could get together and stop talking about parents and whatnot for a change.

He pulled out his phone, determined to establish a short, hot date before getting to class.

You’ve been tagged.

“What now?” he groaned and swiped away the annoying notification. It had been fun for a while to be a local celebrity, but he had come to think there was something wrong with being too popular.

A few snickers a couple of feet away from him proved enough of a distraction for him to let his thumb hover over the screen without touching it. Maddox looked around; he was either suffering from a serious case of self-importance, or everyone seemed to be staring at him. “What?” he growled at a tall thin guy passing by him with a knowing smirk on his face. Something about the way that dude was grinning at him like he knew him from Adam or knew something Maddox didn’t was extremely annoying.

He must have looked aggressive enough, because the guy lost his smirk and turned on his heel like he suddenly remembered he was going the wrong way.

However, a short chubby girl pulling her boyfriend by the hand, a dude equally short and chubby, stared at him without flinching. “Is it true, Maddox?” she asked with a fake grin.

Maddox considered the girl, wondering if he had ever hooked up with her, but nothing about her seemed familiar. “Is what supposed to be true?”

She leaned in and gave him a conspiratorial wink. “Are you in a threesome?”

Maddox groaned and rolled his eyes. “I’ve never been with two girls at the same time,” he said. “Don’t believe everything Xpress says.”

“Not two girls,” the female student waved dismissively. “Two guys.”

“Not that kind of threesome either,” Maddox said with emphasis. So, the rumor mill was trying to get Jonathan and him into some weird sex-scenario.

The girl faked surprise so badly that he gave her a ‘are you kidding me?’ stare just for the sake of it.

“Then, in that case, should I say… I’m sorry for you?” the girl asked and patted her lips with her index finger.

“Why should you be sorry for me?” Maddox asked and put away his phone to cross his arms and give the girl a hard glare.

“Don’t tell me you don’t know even now,” she said and the stricken expression on her face was just too much. “I’m not going to be the one to tell you. Just check Xpress,” she added and put her hand up like she had had enough by pestering him out of the blue like that.

Curious looks continued to be thrown in his direction, suddenly giving him a somewhat eerie feeling. The girl walked away with her boyfriend without saying goodbye, and Maddox pulled out his phone again.

He tsked at the title and the text. Jeez, the things some people did to get some clout. However, the self-assurance that was a part of him began to slip away as he reached the pictures.

Jonathan was there. Rusty was there. And the time stamp said that the pic had been taken during Thanksgiving break. Whatever, things like that were easy to fake. And something told him that Xpress had the resources to fake whatever they wanted, especially for a fabricated story that was aimed to make trouble for him and his relationship. Ever since he had turned the page and started dating Jonathan, Xpress had expressed their concern with his lack of doing things popular kids on campus did, but really, this was too much.

But were the pictures fake, too? Nothing was impossible, not with today’s technology, or they could have been taken sometime before and only made to look like they were fresh out of the oven.

He frowned as he took in the way Rusty puckered his lips as if he was just about to kiss Jonathan. He shook his head. So, his boyfriend and his bestie had played some ball together; it wasn’t like they needed to ask for his permission, but he didn’t recall Rusty being even remotely close to Jonathan. They obviously had talked when Jonathan visited their house, just the same as had happened with Kane and Dex, but from that to being so familiar seemed like a huge leap. It didn’t matter. Rusty had a way of getting under anyone’s skin, and he was famous for not understanding personal space as a general rule.

However, he didn’t know Jonathan was capable of throwing one arm so casually over someone’s shoulders, unless that someone was him, Maddox. Xpress called Jonathan the Cold Beauty for the never too physical way in which he treated everyone. There was no one with as many boundaries as Jonathan.

There was a possibility that everything was completely ‘shopped. Yeah, that had to be it. Still, his eyes remained glued to the screen, especially at the green sweater Rusty wore. He couldn’t tell beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was the same sweater, but it looked exactly like one Jonathan had. And Rusty didn’t do sweaters, especially not one this nice.

Everything had to be fabricated, he decided and ignored the pitying looks, the smirks, and the snickers coming from all sides as he walked to class. He’d probably have a laugh later with Jonathan and Rusty, and they would probably tell him how once they had played ball together and stuff like that, or that everything was fake.


Jonathan rubbed his temples hard as he stared, unblinking, at the screen. How on earth was this possible? He had taken a place in the last row and now, he was reading Xpress, the phone placed on top of his open textbook, the professor’s voice far away and of no interest to him. He should have known that it was a mistake to keep the fact that Rusty had been with him on Thanksgiving break from Maddox, but now, things were being blown totally out of proportion.

Xpress was making it seem like some big secret love affair, but in all honesty, nothing of what was shown in those pictures was remotely incriminating. At best, they looked like two pals having fun, right?

But how had they taken the pictures? Jonathan inspected them carefully. He had no idea what he was looking for or why that aspect of the situation was important. There was a possibility that they came from security camera footage, but he wasn’t so sure. It appeared that the stills had been hand-picked so that it looked as if something was going on between Rusty and him, something that made them look very, very bad.

Maddox had been conspicuously silent all morning, and Jonathan feared what he might say. Surely, he wouldn’t be very angry at him for keeping Rusty’s presence at the campus a secret. The arguments were faint and insubstantial in his mind. Even if Maddox didn’t think they were cheating on him or something as ludicrous as that, he had every right to be upset at being lied to.

He would have to make amends. There was no other way. In the meantime, he read and re-read the text, in search for clues, until something began insinuating itself in his mind with a tinge of familiarity.

Jonathan pursed his lips. He needed to shake someone up. And to begin ignoring all the looks thrown in his direction that had been making his skin tingle with unpleasant apprehension since the beginning of class.


Connor wasn’t hard to find, as his posse always made him stand out everywhere he went. Jonathan stopped a few feet from the group and said loudly, “Can I have a word with you?”

Connor stopped in mid-tirade, something about how the Earth was dying, and stared at him with quirked eyebrows. “Good day to you, too, Jonathan,” he said pointedly.

“I’m not in the mood for pleasantries,” Jonathan cut his words short. “I want to have a word with you.”

Connor dropped his hands and stuffed his pockets with them. He gave an apologetic shrug, aimed at his posse, and started walking toward Jonathan. “I would have thought you’d be more concerned with damage control, given the breaking news you’re currently the star of.”

Jonathan walked away from the main thoroughfare and waited for Connor to follow. Once they were at a decent distance from the guy’s friends who were staring at them in complete disregard of any semblance of respect for privacy, he stopped. “Don’t you think you’ve gone too far, Connor? I really don’t understand you,” he started.

“What, exactly, are you talking about?” Connor gave him such an innocent look that Jonathan almost bought his act.

“I know it’s you. I don’t care about exposing you, or anything remotely similar, but I do have a problem if you continue attacking my relationship with Maddox in this craven manner.” Without realizing it, he had raised his voice and barely reined in his impulse to take Connor by the front of his shirt and shake him out of his stupidity.

Connor narrowed his eyes and made a confused face. “Jonathan, be a little more specific. By the way, I’m over you, so if this is your way of showing me that you feel neglected since I’m paying you no more attention--”

Jonathan took out his phone and pointed at the phrase that had awakened a particular memory in his mind. “Aren’t these your words?”

Connor squinted as he looked at the phone, then at Jonathan. He began laughing. “Seriously, Jonathan? Do you think I’m Xpress?”

“Yes, seriously,” Jonathan said through his teeth. “You said the same thing to me not so long ago.”

To his annoyance, Connor just shrugged. “I’m flattered that you believe me to be as clever as to run an enterprise like Xpress, but you’re wrong. And come on, saying that someone has a superpower if he’s good at something is basically a cliché. Or maybe, someone from Xpress heard our conversation. Have you thought of that?”

Jonathan was boiling on the inside. No, he hadn’t thought of that, and it took great effort to stop his anger from taking over. He could be wrong, yes, but he could also be right, and Connor seemed to be a good candidate for running a sleazy thing like Xpress. “Deny all you want. It doesn’t do you any honor that you’re using your little publication to smear my reputation.”

Connor laughed again, grinding his gears. “It’s college, Jonathan,” he said in a sugary voice. “You’re popular, whether you like it or not. By the way, did you truly flip Rusty Parker, as well?” He clicked his tongue. “Then I wasn’t wrong when I told you that you have an awesome superpower. And Xpress just happens to agree with me, which makes me feel very flattered, of course.”

Jonathan didn’t hide his disgust when he looked at Connor. “Aren’t you a warrior for the good of the Earth? How does that fit with your admiration for a thing,” he spat the word, “that does nothing else but bring people down?”

Connor shrugged. “I hate liars,” he said airily. “Xpress simply exposes them, shows their true colors. I’d say it’s a worthy cause.”

Jonathan adjusted the strap of the bag on his shoulder. He had had some time to cool down a bit. It wasn’t like it was a logical thing to expect Connor to simply admit that he was behind that piece. “You’re wrong,” he said thinly. “But I suppose that says something about you, something I should have seen from the start.”

Connor’s façade appeared shaken for the first time since the beginning of their conversation. “What’s that something supposed to be?”

“You’re a fraud,” Jonathan said and stared Connor down. “It doesn’t matter what lies you tell yourself each morning when you get up. That’s what you are.”

And, also for the first time since they had started talking, Connor didn’t have a comeback. He stood there, staring after Jonathan as he walked away.


“Can you believe the shit they just pulled on Xpress?” Maddox started as soon as he was inside. He threw his bag on the sofa and then plopped down by Kane’s side.

“What shit?” Kane asked while he continued to examine the textbooks open and spread out on the coffee table. “Ah, you mean the shit about Jonathan and Rusty?”

“Yeah,” Maddox said with a scowl. He pushed his feet against the low table, making it teeter.

Kane grabbed it and looked at him. “Don’t tell me you’re falling for that bullshit. They probably fabricated the photos.”

“Yeah, totally,” Maddox said. “Do you know I told my parents about Jonathan and me?”

“No, you didn’t tell me.” Kane gave up on perusing his study materials. “How did it go?”

“Well, not that good,” Maddox mumbled and stared down stubbornly.

“Like how?”

“Like they don’t believe I’m serious about Jonathan,” Maddox replied.

“You’ll show them, then. In due time.”

Exactly the same words Jonathan had used the evening before. Somehow, they weren’t enough for him. “I really don’t get it. Don’t they want me to be happy? I’ve always thought that they did.”

Kane appeared to consider his words carefully. “It’s not the easiest thing in the world for parents to accept. My future sister-in-law didn’t have it easy, either, when she came out to hers.”

“Future sister-in-law… look at him talking,” Maddox said with a broad smile and punched Kane in the shoulder playfully. “So, you think I should just give them enough time to adjust to the idea.”

“That, too. And it would also help, you know, to reinforce the thing whenever possible. Maybe give them a chance to get to know Jonathan. It is one thing for them to hear that you like a dude, and another to meet the guy. And as much a stick-in-the-mud as your Jonathan is, he’s the type that parents like, usually.”

“He’s not like that,” Maddox protested with a scowl. Kane gave him a look. “Well, maybe a little.” Jonathan was surely a bit too rigid and formal when it came to social interactions, which was why the thing with Rusty in Xpress didn’t make one bit of sense. Kane was right to think the photos were fake. If it had been Ray in there instead of Rusty, he would have understood it, because Jonathan’s roommate had somehow managed to break through those defenses, but that still didn’t mean that Jonathan would start hanging out and touching other people out of the blue. “By the way, where’s Rusty?”

“He might be sleeping,” Kane offered.

“Did he go to classes today?”

“To some, I think.”

Maddox shrugged. “All right, I’ll go upstairs. In case Jonathan comes, just send him up.”

“Okay,” Kane agreed and returned to his textbooks.

Maddox felt restless while he climbed the stairs. He needed more confirmation that the whole thing in Xpress was made up. Kane’s chill explanation and attitude were not enough. And he wanted to talk to Rusty about how Thanksgiving with his dad had gone. They hadn’t had time to chat the day before, and it was overdue. If he knew Rusty well enough, he had some things to say, even if they had to be wrenched out of him, as was the case with all hurtful things.

He knocked on Rusty’s door before reaching his.

“Yeah,” came from the other side.

Good. At least, he wasn’t sleeping, and he hadn’t even partied or hooked up the night before, which was a miracle in itself.

“Hi, man,” Rusty greeted him. He wasn’t sleepy, his hair was somewhat brushed, and even his room looked a little better than usual. So, after all, Thanksgiving break had been a good thing for Rusty, and Maddox was glad.

He was even at his desk, writing something. Maddox wouldn’t go as far as to consider it studying, but it was still better than nothing.

“Hey,” Maddox replied. “We didn’t get a chance to talk last night. How was your break?” As he talked, he looked around, wondering once again at the decent degree of neatness of the room. His eyes fell on the bed that had been made, unlike Rusty’s MO, as its owner said, always ready for some action.

“You know,” Rusty replied, suspiciously tight-lipped.

Maddox was about to begin teasing the truth out of him when his eyes fell on something peeking from under the pillow. He went over without thinking. It was something green and looked like part of a...

He pulled at it, disturbing the pillow. “The fuck is this, Rusty?” he asked, holding up the offending object and feeling the floor shake under his feet.

Rusty turned toward him and his eyes grew wide. “Um, it’s a sweater,” he said slowly, while his eyes began to dart sideways, in search of escape.

“Jonathan’s sweater!” Maddox threw the thing back on the bed. He saw red. The only thing he knew right now was that he had been lied to by two of the most important people in his life.

Rusty jumped and put himself in the doorway, blocking the exit. “Maddox, I can explain.”

“Get the fuck out of my way,” Maddox growled.

“Jonathan is not to blame,” Rusty continued. “I told him to keep it a secret from you.”

“Oh, and that makes it okay?” Maddox tried to wrench Rusty away from the door. “For you to steal my boyfriend?”

Rusty stared at him, his jaw slack. Like he would fall for that act. He had known Rusty to have been the perfect actor so many times before that he no longer kept count.

“Are you nutso?” Rusty bellowed at him while pointing a finger at his temple. “I didn’t steal Jonathan.”

“It looks like everyone thinks so,” Maddox said pointedly.

“Maddox, chill. Xpress is just throwing shit at walls, waiting to see if it sticks.”

“Well, it looks like it did. Or are you going to tell me that those photos were ‘shopped?”

Rusty made a sour face. “At least I would have said they were deep fakes.”

“But they’re not, right? They’re real,” Maddox said. He could feel steam blowing out of his ears. “Or are you going to lie to me even now?”

Rusty looked guiltily away.

“As I thought,” Maddox concluded. “You just couldn’t stand to see me happy with him.” His words were vindictive but he couldn’t stop them if it cost him half an arm.

“What?” Rusty now looked stricken. “Why would you say that? I’ve never touched him, not the way you think.”

“No shit. How about the time when you grabbed his ass?”

Rusty worried his bottom lip and stared at him like he could drop the act and start to cry at any moment. That had to be bullshit, too. Maddox wanted to think Rusty wouldn’t go that low. He had seen his best friend cry once, and it had been serious. If he did it to cover a lie, Maddox didn’t want to think what he would start believing about Rusty.

“I thought you forgave me for that,” Rusty said softly. “And I didn’t exactly grab--”

“I don’t care,” Maddox said aggressively. “You’re not my friend anymore.”

A stunned Rusty was easy to overcome and forced to move out of the door. “Wait, Maddox, you didn’t let me explain,” he called after him.

Maddox jumped down the stairs two at a time, fast. Like he cared for explanations given by a liar.


“Are you cheating on me with Rusty?”

Jonathan had expected a lot of things from Ray, but not that when he set foot into their shared space. “Really, Ray,” he said with a long sigh. “I’ve had enough of a stupid day.”

“You two look like he’s your new bestie,” Ray said pointedly. He even stabbed the screen on his phone in emphasis.

“At least you don’t believe Rusty is my secret love affair like at least half the campus,” Jonathan added.

“Who cares about that?” Ray asked but then he smiled. “I got you scared that I was bestie-jealous, right?”

Jonathan rolled his eyes. “Yeah, totally, as kids would say today.”

“Ugh, not even for a moment? I’ll fail as an actor then.”

“Was that ever a valid career choice for you, Ray?”

Ray shrugged. “One needs to have a backup plan.”

“Maybe you should consider another backup plan.” Jonathan sank into the kitchen chair and ran one hand over his face.

“Hey, are you okay, JJ?” Ray squeezed his shoulder in sympathy. “Should I make some tea?”

“No,” Jonathan said quickly, “I’m fine. It’s just this stupid story. Do you have any idea how long it will take to die down?”

“I’m sorry, but I have no idea. Just between you and me, the photos are fake, right?”

Jonathan shook his head. There was no point in lying. “No. I didn’t go to my parents, after all. And I happened upon Rusty here.” He didn’t say a word about Rusty’s singing. At least, that was a secret he could keep without hurting anyone.

“Wow. So I do have reason to be jealous,” Ray concluded.

Jonathan hoped that his glare was enough to stop Ray mid-performance. “I could use a friend who’s not jealous right now.”

Ray hugged him suddenly, making an attempt to squeeze the life out of him. His efforts in that direction were laughable, but Jonathan appreciated them nonetheless. “You can count on me, JJ. I’m totally your bestie. And just ignore stupid Xpress. As long as the people who know you don’t give a damn about their gossip, nothing else matters, right? By the way, what is Maddox saying? I bet he laughed his ass off.”

The words had barely left Ray’s mouth when they started at a loud knock on the door.

“I’ll get it,” Ray offered. Jonathan hiked his bag up on his shoulder and headed for his room.

He stopped dead in his tracks when he heard a familiar voice greeting Ray and asking about him. As absorbed as he had been with proving that Connor was behind all that drama in Xpress, he had neglected to call Maddox to tell him the true version of things.

Ray stepped out of the way to allow Maddox inside, and Jonathan turned.

“What the hell, Jonathan?” Maddox began without any preamble.

There was murder written all over his pretty face, which immediately gave Jonathan pause.

“You’re not even denying it, are you?” Maddox threw his arms in the air.

Ray tiptoed around them carefully and headed for his room. Jonathan threw him a short grateful look for his delicate approach.

“Is this about Xpress?” Jonathan asked as soon as Ray closed the door behind him quietly. “Look, Maddox, it’s all blown out of proportion. First of all, I owe you an apology.”

“For cheating on me?”

“Cheating on you?” Jonathan felt his face hurting and his chest imploding inwards. This wasn’t Ray making a joke; no, it was Maddox, with fire in his eyes, angry like he had never seen him before. “That is so preposterous that I cannot even--”

Maddox moved closer until only one hairsbreadth separated them. “Look into my eyes and tell me you didn’t lie to me.”

Jonathan worked his jaw. “I should have told you Rusty was with me. He didn’t want you to know because--”

“Because what? Because he wanted to give it to you behind my back?”

Jonathan closed his eyes for a moment. If he were an insulted woman, he would have slapped Maddox right then. But he wasn’t, and he was also to blame. “I’m in the wrong, Maddox, and I admit it. But I’m not in that kind of wrong. So, please, let’s just calm down--”

“I don’t want to calm down,” Maddox interrupted him again. No, that was obviously the wrong thing to say to someone breathing fire like that. “To think that I ruined my folks’ Thanksgiving because of you.”

Jonathan turned rigid, the words of apology freezing on his lips. “You shouldn’t have done that,” he said, letting the words fall like pebbles down a mountain.

Maddox’s eyes flashed with hurt. “Yeah,” he said, “yeah. It should have fucking occurred to me that this is as one-sided as hell. ‘Cause I wanted to take you to meet my parents, while you were just bullshitting me with promises of showing me your frigging horses.”

Jonathan paled under the accusation. “That’s not true, Maddox.”

Maddox shook his head impatiently. “I’m so mad right now at you and Rusty. How could you keep it a secret from me that he was here, with you? Unless it was something worth keeping secret, right?”

“You’re twisting everything, and you don’t want to hear the truth,” Jonathan countered. “And as much as I regret not telling you about him when I had the chance, I also understand why he doesn’t want to be pitied and looked down upon.”

“Are you an expert in how Rusty feels now? He’s my best friend,” Maddox said through his teeth and pointed at his chest.

“I’m not saying that I am...”

“No, you’re not.” Maddox tsked and began to walk back toward the door. “I was so fucking stupid.”

“Maddox,” Jonathan called out and rushed after him. This couldn’t be it. All because of that gossip rag and their uncanny ability to twist everything? He caught Maddox by the arm. “Nothing happened between Rusty and I. How can you even believe such a thing?”

Maddox’s eyes were a storm of emotions as they stared at him. “He even cleaned up his room,” he said. “Rusty never does that. But he did it for you. So don’t tell me nothing happened between you two.”

Jonathan opened his mouth to protest and say that he hadn’t even set foot in Rusty’s room, but Maddox continued, “And you even gave him that sweater. When did you ever do that for me? When did you give me anything?”

“I didn’t know--”

“Forget it. It’s all my fault. I hope you’ll be happy together or whatever.”

Then Maddox was out in the corridor, and a few curious heads peeked out from slightly opened doors. Jonathan stopped; his good upbringing prevented him from causing a scene. He stepped back into his dorm room and closed the door.


Maddox was still trembling with rage when he returned home. Dex and Kane promptly barred his way as he tried to head up the stairs and hide in his room. Wasn’t that what people did when they wanted to lick their wounds out of sight? Supposedly yes, but not when their roommates stood there, like the last defense against barbaric nomads.

“So,” Dex started and exchanged a short look with Kane, “is this the famous Kingsley temper in action or am I imagining things?”

Maddox growled. “You two, I’m not in the mood for your preaching. Get out of the way and let me be.”

“You fought with Rusty,” Kane said, “and I suppose you just came back from fighting with Jonathan, as well. By the way, how did it go?”

“None of your business.” He tried to push and squeeze between his two friends, but Dex pushed him back effortlessly. “Cut it out already!”

“Show us on this diagram,” Kane gestured as if he was painting with his fingers in the air, “where Xpress touched you.”

“Screw you, Kane!”

“Shit, Dex, it looks like it’s serious,” Kane declared.

“Of course, it’s serious,” Maddox exploded. “I told my parents--” He swallowed his words quick enough.

“You told your parents that Jonathan is an awesome guy and they should meet him,” Kane said and nodded as if he understood everything.

He understood absolutely nothing. “He’s not an awesome guy, ‘cause he’s a cheater.”

Dex growled to get his attention. “Maddox freaking Kingsley, have you lost all your brain cells since this morning? Anyone in their right mind looking at those pics would think that they’re looking at two dudes hanging out and nothing else. If they got just one pic of any of the thousands of situations in which Rusty tried to show me the weird tricks he uses to get chicks, we’d become the latest homoerotic sensation, and well beyond Sunny Hill. You know he’s a touchy-feely dude.”

“Yeah, he is, but Jonathan is not.”

Dex was looking at him as if he was sprouting another head. “Kane, this is serious, my man,” he addressed his bestie.

“Just let me be already,” Maddox insisted.

“Not unless you admit that you’re missing something important while you’re letting your stupid anger take over, keeping you staring at those pics in Xpress.”

“And what exactly am I missing?” Maddox growled.

“What’s that word, Kane?” Dex turned toward Kane again.


“Yeah,” Dex agreed and then annoyed the hell out of Maddox by knocking on his head with two bent fingers. “Get that through your thick skull first before you ruin something else, okay?”

Like he would take advice from his friends right now. They understood nothing about how the thought of seeing Jonathan with another man burned inside his chest.


So, let the drama begin! Feel free to call me evil, but these guys need to have their resolution and feelings put to the test before moving further. I know you'll have many comments, I always read them, and this time, I expect a bit of a thunderstorm (don't worry, I enjoy fair weather just as fine).

Until next time,

All the best,


Copyright © 2021 Laura S. Fox; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Obviously Jonathan is in the wrong for lying but Maddox has some jealousy issues. In this case it’s definitely understandable yet I’m at the same time recalling a previous chapter where seemingly out of nowhere he became intensely jealous of Andrew as well as his irritation over the wet tshirt contest. I suppose it makes some sense as this is his first serious relationship yet he needs to find some way to control it to some extent as he’s not able to look at things rationally.

Edited by NimirRaj
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