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Fake Out: Chapter 9

MADDOX

Stacy’s knocking echoes through my apartment. “I bring gifts in the form of margarita mix.”

Ugh. “Tequila and I aren’t on speaking terms.”

“All the more for me.”

When I open the door, she helps herself to my kitchen as she always does.

“Your brother is ignoring me,” I say. It’s only been two weeks and a couple of texts, but still. I told myself not to bring it up too, and look at that, she’s been in my apartment for three whole seconds. Yay, willpower.

“Don’t be offended. He’s always insanely busy with school and work. Tonight’s the first night he’s taken a break since the weekend he spent with you. If it wasn’t for Eric, he’d probably be holed up in his apartment with his face in a textbook.”

I tense. “Eric?”

“Yeah, his best friend. Eric’s getting married, and he’s going to ask Damon to be his best man tonight. It’s been hard to keep it a secret, but Eric wanted to be the one to tell him, and Damon’s been too busy. So, you’re not the only one he’s been ignoring.”

What. The. Fuck.

The tension in my spine shoots up my neck, making it twinge. The last thing Damon needs is to hear Eric’s getting married, let alone get asked to be his best man. What the hell is wrong with this Eric guy that he thinks that’s okay?

“Don’t suppose you know where they were going tonight?” I ask.

She eyes me warily, and perhaps I should try to be more discreet, but it’s kinda hard to be when I know what Damon’s walking into.

“That hole in the wall pizza place in SoHo. Why?”

“Okay, please don’t think I’m stalking your brother, but I have to go.”

“What? Why?”

“I need to talk to him about all this same-sex stuff, and he’s been ignoring me. You stay here, get loaded on margaritas, and by the time I come back, you’ll be loveable Stacy.”

“Hey, I’m always loveable.”

“I know, but you’re a lot nicer to me when you’ve been drinking. I’ll be back soon.”

“Want me to come with you?”

“No,” I snap. “I mean … no offense. I don’t … uh … it’s a guy thing.”

“That’s sexist.”

I step forward and kiss her forehead. “I’m not going to dignify that with a response.”

“And now you’re being condescending.”

“For fuck’s sake, woman, have some tequila.” Before she stops me again, I grab my phone, keys, jacket, and scarf and leave her in my apartment.

What am I doing? Last thing Damon probably wants is to see me right now. Do I go in and hide and wait until Damon’s alone to make sure he’s okay? Do I pretend to bump into him?

As soon as I step over the threshold into the restaurant, my eyes find him at a table near the back. Eric has his back to me, but he brought his fiancée.

Holy douche-canoe, I already know he’s a dick, and I haven’t seen his face yet.

Damon looks miserable even with his forced smile as he downs the rest of his beer. He hasn’t shaved for days, and his fledging dark beard makes him look even hotter than the clean-shaven jock I met a few weeks ago. I don’t know what it is about this guy that draws me to him, but all I know is I want to be near him. Even if it’s just as friends.

He hasn’t spotted me yet, but I know a way I could rescue him. It’s time for me to repay the favor he did me.

Eric’s telling some story when I approach, his voice all douchey and frat boy like. No wait, that’s an insult to me and my brothers. Damon’s eyes widen when he sees me. There’s a half-eaten pizza in front of them, so Damon’s already had to endure this a while.

“Maddy—”

“Hey, sorry I’m late.” God, I hope he hasn’t told Eric he’s not seeing anyone or this will totally backfire. I squeeze in next to him in the booth.

He remains silently stunned until I lean in and kiss his cheek. His woodsy aftershave smells familiar—like I’ve already memorized his scent.

And my brain has officially gone into creepy territory. I follow this guy to a restaurant and then smell him? Suddenly, coming here doesn’t seem like a bright idea.

“Thought you said you couldn’t make it,” Damon says.

Phew. Thought I lost him for a second there.

“My other plans fell through.” I turn to fuckhead and don’t like what I see. Blond hair, blue eyes, just like me. Guess Damon can’t use the argument I’m not his type, because clearly, I am. “I’m Maddox.”

Eric frowns. “You didn’t tell me you were seeing someone, D.”

D. Ugh.

“Can say the same about you,” Damon says. “Turns out you’re engaged.” His tone is light but there’s aggression underneath it. “Maddy and I are new.”

“I’m Kristy,” the blonde woman says to me.

“Getting married, huh?” I ask. “Congratulations. You’re going to make very blond children.”

Eric’s still glaring. “How did you two meet?” He slings his arm around his fiancée. God, could he be any more obvious about what he’s doing? We get it, you’re straighter than a fucking ruler.

“I’m best friends with Stacy,” I say.

“Wait, you’re that Maddox?” Eric asks and then smiles. “You’ve hung out with my brother, Julian, a few times. He, uh, says you’re a great wingman. You know, and great at picking up women.”

Well, shit. I do know Stacy’s friend Julian, and yes, I’ve hooked up in front of him a few times.

“What are you getting at?” I ask.

Eric turns to Damon. “Really? Resorting to getting a straight guy to pretend to be your boyfriend? That’s sad.”

“Who says I’m straight?”

Damon grabs my hand on top of the table. “You’ll have to excuse my friend. It’s all gay or straight to Eric. He doesn’t like the grey area in between.”

Ooh, burn.

Eric turns a shade of tomato. “Bisexuality is the middle step to gaytown.”

Damon’s grip on my hand becomes deathly.

“That’s classic bi-erasure shit,” I say. I may’ve Googled a lot these past two weeks. Definitely learned some new terms. “I’m here, I’m bi, and I like guys … and girls.” I turn to Damon. “Hmm, not as catchy as We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it, is it?”

“Not so much,” Damon says with the biggest smile.

“When my boyfriend asked me to meet his best friend, I wasn’t aware I’d have to defend my sexuality. Sorry, D, but your friend is a dick.” I have to give Damon credit; he holds in his laugh well.

Kristy’s gaze ping-pongs between the three of us. It’s not clear if she’s confused or entertained.

Eric turns to his fiancée. “Can you go get me another beer from the bar, hon?”

“But—”

“Now,” he barks at her, and she obeys. They’re in for a great marriage.

As soon as she’s out of earshot, Damon slumps in his seat. “What are we doing here, Eric?”

“You know our families will expect you to be the best man at my wedding.”

“Can’t you tell them you’re all bromanced up with someone from college? Or ask your brother. Friends drift apart, and they know we haven’t been as close since college. They don’t have to know how much of a homophobe you’ve become. Or always were.”

“Just fucking do it, okay?” Eric says.

I scoff. “Well, when you ask him so nicely.”

Eric’s glare turns to me. “Did we ask for your opinion? Damon knows it’ll be easier this way. Our moms won’t get involved and become nosy.”

“Can’t have them knowing the truth, can we?” Damon says. “If I say yes, can we leave?”

“It’s not like it’s hard to stand up there and pretend to be happy for me.”

“I’ll do it, but I’m not giving a speech or organizing a bachelor party. Get someone else to do that shit. I’ll put up appearances, but don’t think this means we’re okay or whatever.”

“Fine. Deal.”

“Let’s go,” I say to Damon. “Your sister’s currently getting loaded at my apartment, and I think we should join her.” I practically drag him out of his seat, but as we pass Eric, he reaches out and grabs Damon’s arm. He mumbles something I can’t hear, and then Damon and I are out the door.

“How did you know where I was?” Damon asks on the walk to the subway.

“Tracking app I installed on your phone while we were at my parents’ place.”

He stops walking, and under the dim light of the street, his face pales.

“You should so see your face right now.” I laugh. “Stacy told me, you dumbass. She said you were out with Eric and that he was getting married. Figured you might’ve wanted some backup. Sorry if I crossed some sort of line back there, but that guy pisses me off.”

“You and me both. And considering you’re someone who hates confrontation, is it weird I’m proud of you right now?”

“Proud? Of what? All I did was defend you.”

Damon smiles. “Actually, you defended you.”

Oh. Right. “I guess I did, huh? Didn’t feel like it as the words were coming out. It wasn’t about me personally, even though it was about me.” I shake my head. “Sorry. It’s still weird.”

“Thank you for showing up. I enjoyed you putting Eric in his place a little too much.”

“You should’ve said no to being his best man,” I say.

“Like he said, it’s easier this way.”

“What did he say when we left?”

Damon blows out a loud breath. “It doesn’t matter.”

“It does matter.”

“It’s the same old shit he’s said since we kissed. If our families find out, who do I think they’ll believe?”

“That’s bullshit.” I’ve never been a violent guy, but right now I want to march back in there and throat-punch the guy. I’d probably break my hand, but whatever.

“Did you say something about Stacy and alcohol?” Damon asks.

“Yup.”

“Let’s go.”

We head down to the subway and jump on the first train. It’s busy for a Saturday night, so Damon and I are practically pushed together as we stand near the doors.

“So … you’ve been avoiding me,” I say.

“You waited until we were in small confines before you asked that, didn’t you? I can’t get away.”

“Precisely.”

“I got your texts, and I’m not lying when I say I’ve been busy, but yeah, I have been avoiding you a little bit.”

The train car shudders and pushes me into him so we’re chest to chest. “Why?” I croak.

Damon takes a small step back. “Honestly? I’m waiting for the memory of you kissing me to go away so I’m not tempted to do it again.”


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