unraveling

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Chapter 12

MADDEN

Liam leaned forward, eyes scanning over my laptop, brows furrowed in confusion. "You're taking notes."

"Yes," I answered.

"Like actual notes. Not half-assed notes."

His voice was so in disbelief I smiled. "Yes. Now shut up. I need to hear what he's saying."

"Why though?"

"So I can get my money's worth on my education," I shrugged.

"Why are you trying so hard?"

"Because," I mutter. "I'm a good student."

He snorted. "No, you're not."

"Well, I am now."

Liam shook his head and turned his attention back to Professor Castien, Avery, who was currently teaching. I didn't miss the subtle glance he tossed in my direction. I winked at him and he scowled.

My heart warmed. I did my best ignoring that and tried to actually focus on what he was saying. Liam was right. I was taking notes. Not my usual notes. But actually decent notes. And I was actually trying to understand.

Ever since I had gotten to talk to Avery's brothers, something heavy had been weighing at the back of my mind. He never mentioned this, not that it came up in conversation, but apparently, he used to be a lawyer. And my the time he turned 25, he had not only gotten his Ph. D, but had a license to practice law.

No wonder he thought I was stupid.

So now, as futile as I knew my attempts would be, I was just a little bit determined to prove I wasn't completely useless.

By the time the class was over, I was pretty confused. There was a lot of information that I entirely did not understand. Whatsoever.

Did people do this every single day? That must be a hell of a time.

How the fuck was I supposed to prove I wasn't dumb when I was dumb? That whole idea was...dumb. It was like I was torturing myself about the idea of torturing myself.

Fuck.

I pouted. "Hey," a voice said. I looked up, sliding my stuff into my bag.

In front of me, there was a guy who looked like he was nervous, but by the way, he carried himself, he seemed confident enough. He was tall with sandy blonde hair and bright green eyes. I recognized him. "Hey," I smiled. "Umm... Patrick, right?"

He looked surprised that I knew his name. "Yeah." He scratched the back of his neck and glanced between Liam and me. "I was just wondering if you'd um...like to get coffee with me sometime."

Oh. I blinked. "Sorry, I'm not really looking for-"

"It doesn't have to be for coffee," he cuts me off.

I didn't really know what that meant. "That doesn't really change my mind." The most vivid memory I currently had of this dude's existence was him fleeing from Avery's office. That wasn't a great first impression.

"Well," Patrick continues. "It couldn't hurt to give me a chance."

Oh, it would. "Is this your way of playing off rejection?"

He offered a smile that definitely came off more cynical then it should or was intended. "Is it working?"

This wasn't exactly a rare occurrence. Guys, girls alike, I drew quite a bit of attention, but to be honest, Patrick was not my type. Hell, he wasn't even close. I opened my mouth to reject him again, but he lowers his voice. "I actually have some questions about something that I saw the other day," he said pointedly. His tone implied that it was something bad an I narrowed my eyes.

"What exactly?" I challenged.

"Well, let's just say it sure as hell isn't appropriate between a student and his professor."

Out of my peripheral vision, I see Liam's eyes widen. "Why is that any of your business?" I ask flatly.

"Because if a shitty professor is forcing himself on-"

"Shut the fuck up," I said sharply. "He's not forcing anything."

He smiles, seeming to enjoy that he managed to get in my head. "Really? Because it seems like he's taking advantage of a poor college student."

I glared at him. "He's not."

"Well, the school administrators don't have to know that."

Was he...blackmailing me?

He wasn't the only student at this point to have seen us together and I was surprised the school administrators hadn't already caught wind of it. In my logical mind, I knew I shouldn't be worried, but I really didn't want to get Avery in trouble.

"What do you want?" I snapped.

"A date." He seemed smug and really pleased with himself.

I frowned. "And you thought this was a good way to get it."

"You were rejecting me," he replied a matter of factly.

I sighed, trying not to just straight up glare at him. "I don't have time."

"So give me your number. I'll call and we can pick a time," he countered.

"Or you could just go away," Liam snapped.

Patrick shot him a glare. "This isn't your concern."

"You're trying to force my best friend into going out with you," he barked. "It's my concern."

Before they could actually start fighting, I ripped out a piece of paper from my bag and scrawled my number on it. I shoved it in Patrick's face, scowling. "There."

He smiles sweetly. "I'll call you."

Liam stares incredulously at me. "You can't actually go out with a jerk like him."

"I'm sleeping with Professor Castien," I replied dryly. "What do you think my opinion on jerks is?" What was I supposed to admit? That I was trying to protect Avery? That seemed so far fetched. He didn't need my protection. And for anyone who tried to fire him, they'd run away screaming before the words even left their mouths.

I knew what Liam would say if I told him. So I wasn't going to.

He rolled his eyes. "He's blackmailing you."

"I know."

"Then why?"

"I don't know," I lied. "He's cute." He was. In a very college boy, high school jock, kid way. I was starting to think my opinion on guys my age were getting biased. I slip my stuff into my bag, lifting the strap over my shoulder.

"You realize that when he says 'date,' he wants to bang, right?" Liam said as we walked out of the lecture hall.

"You don't know that," I defended. "Also, you sound so hetero when you say it like that."

"What are you even going to do with him?"

"I don't know," I mutter. "Make friends?" Patrick was the least of my worries at the current moment.

Liam seemed to accept that. "Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you when he tries to get in your pants."

"Do you blame him?" I said smugly. "Look at me. How could he resist?"

"I don't blame him. I'd judge him, but I wouldn't blame him."

"Hey!" I protested.

He just laughed, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. "Don't be offended. You aren't my type."

"If I had boobs, I'd be your type," I grumbled.

"Nah," he assured me. "If you were tall and blonde, you'd be my type."

I was neither tall nor blonde. "Whatever."

He ruffled my hair. "Are you going to visit him now?"

He was talking about Castien. Was I? Should I? I was so tempted and usually, I would, if even just for a second. "No," I mutter.

He looked surprised. "Why?"

"I have homework," I replied. This whole responsible student thing was going to take some getting used to and some suffering. But I was going to prove myself, even if I couldn't see Avery every day.

His eyes widened considerably. "That's never stopped you before."

"This is important," I said quietly, continuing to walk.

"Woah," Liam mutters. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," I assured him.

He looked doubtful but I was glad he didn't push it.

I had a hope, albeit small, that there was a chance that Avery could genuinely like me. But if that was ever going to happen, I really didn't want him to think I was stupid.

Which he definitely did now. But I had heard him laugh. And damn it, I was in too deep.


-

I wanted to give up. I was falling asleep. I checked the time on my phone. It was 3 AM.

Okay. Whoever thought that studying was a good idea needed to die.

I glanced at my laptop, trying to bring the words into focus. I had a paper due tomorrow. Well, technically it was after midnight, so today. And I had read my draft over and it wasn't great. I had spent the last month actually putting in effort in my studies and it had totally not paid off.

I was in a terrible mood. I hadn't seen Avery outside of class very much this month and it was really messing with my brain.

I missed him terribly.

"You're still awake?" Liam walked into the living room, rubbing his eyes, face wary.

"Yeah," I mutter.

"Why?" he groans, sitting down on the couch next to me.

"Why can't I do this?" I sighed miserably. "It's English. It's not supposed to be hard and yet..."

Liam winced. "Madden, it's 3 AM. Go to sleep."

"No," I insisted, sitting up straighter. "I have to fix this. It's horrible."

"You're sleeping with the professor!"

"I know," I pout. "But I want to pass this class."

"You are passing the class," he groaned, exasperated.

"But I want to pass the class by my means," I said stubbornly. "Not because I'm a dumb pretty boy sleeping with his professor." The words stuck in my head and I winced.

He stared at me for a few seconds before shaking his head. "Fine. Give me a sec."

He stands up, walking to the kitchen. I watch curiously as he starts a pot of coffee. I didn't drink coffee. "What are you doing?"

"I'm helping you pass this fucking class," he hissed.

My shoulders slumped. "You don't have to."

Liam arched a brow at me. "You don't need help?"

"I do," I mumble. He comes back, sitting down and pulling my laptop towards him. I wrapped my arms around him. "Thank you, Liam."

"Get off me," he mutters, patting my head. "We have a paper to fix."

"But you can't write the paper for me," I protest.

"I'm not going to," he assured me, yawning. "You couldn't have done this in the morning, could you?"

"Sorry," I said quietly.

"Okay," he starts, pulling the textbook off of the coffee table and splitting it open.

I sometimes genuinely forgot that Liam was actually pretty smart. In high school, Liam was super popular, between both the teachers and students. He did well in school and he was also a jock. But since college started, I had kind of forgotten.

I was also kind of jealous.

He pinched my cheek. "Are you listening?"

"Huh?"

He glared at me. "If I'm going to explain this to you, you have to listen."

"Sorry, sorry," I said quickly, turning to him.

For the next four or five hours, Liam explained different concepts and themes to me, helping me understand all the parts that had still been messy in my brain. He instructed me to the best of his ability on the parts of my paper that I should fix.

"I love you."

"You need to sleep," Liam tells me.

"I know."

"Why didn't you just ask Castien? Wouldn't he have explained all this to you if you asked?"

I frowned. Would he? Or would he just think it was dumb? Why would he want to help me to get a better grade when I was already sleeping with him? Especially since he probably thought I was too stupid to be helped. "I don't know," I admit.

He rolled his eyes. "This better be worth it."

I pressed my lips together. "It will be."

Later that day, in class, Patrick took his, now usual, seat next to me.

After the first date I had agreed to go on with him, he somehow got the idea that we were a thing. I would've told him off but he kept dropping unsubtle hints that he would report Avery for inappropriate behaviour and get him fired.

I shouldn't have believed him.

But he spiraled out of control. He was twisting the story and he kept making it seem like I was somehow coerced into sleeping with him. He knew that wasn't the case but as the days passed his story somehow got worse and worse. As much as I protested, he was turning really mental.

"Stop being so stiff," Patrick said lightly.

I wouldn't be so stiff if you got your motherfucking hand off my thigh, you pervert.

"I'm not," I lied.

"Just relax."

I hated that of all the classes I had to have with him, it was this one. Professor Castien's. Avery's. He leaned over and pressed a kiss to my lips. A sloppy one. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, not bothering returning it. I had some limits. "I don't know how you're okay with a man twice your age kissing you, but not me," he mutters, looking extremely annoyed.

I gritted my teeth. "He's not twice my age."

Patrick smirks, arching a brow at me. "Defending him again?"

"No," I mutter. "Stating facts."

"Now, now," he murmured, rubbing my leg. "Stop frowning. You'll ruin your pretty face." His hand reached over and he brushed his knuckles down my cheek. I flinched.

Liam nudged me. "You okay?" His face told me that he knew I was not okay. But to my knowledge, I had only told him that I had gone on a few dates with Patrick.

"I'm fine," I said with a forced smile.

He pursed his lips, shaking his head as if he couldn't believe that I was doing this.

I really wouldn't be doing this, but I had been the one to do this. I wasn't going to let him make Avery lose his job. He was too damn good at it. And Patrick wasn't exactly what I was stressing about right now.

I had a class to pass.


-

(a/n: also, just out of curiosity, i wanna know what ya'll think of madden's character because i feel like i had way too much fun writing him)

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