Remember No Fault of His Own, the GR story inspired by this picture?
Before The Proposal is the prequel for No Fault of His Own.
Ryan eased out of his chair and shuffled quietly through the rows of seats occupied by business majors in their first year of classes. He hated Business Administration and had decided to drop the class three minutes ago. It was a decision that was a long time coming, and he finally had the courage. His plan, escape without attracting attention. The last thing he wanted was for the professor to notice him. Not today he begged as he slid silently along the wall, praying the exit was closer than it looked. He’d stayed out late last night and his head hurt. His eyes were bleary and the groggy feeling that had settled over him didn’t lift as the morning wore on. If he gave the excuse of being tired the professor would assume he’d been drinking, but the hadn’t. No, his “hangover” wasn’t from alcohol; it was from painting until the wee hours of the morning. A group of friends were creating a mural on the wall of a building downtown and they had limited work hours. That they were doing the mural illegally only enhanced the experience for him.
He’d almost made it to the door when the professor stopped talking and cleared his throat. Ryan cringed, hating that he’d drawn unnecessary attention to himself. He tried like crazy to remember the guy’s name. He hated this class and hardly paid attention, even to the professor. Jackson? Jason? James? No Johnson.
“Excuse me young man. Where do you think you are going?” Johnson’s voice echoed through the hall and the snicker of students trailed the Prof’s announcement.
Ryan cringed, what could he say? I’m dropping your boring class? That would be rude. He chose to remain silent, until the Johnson cleared his throat again.
“We are waiting.”
Ryan stood straight and faced the professor. He hated lying though he did it all the time to his parents. But damn, what choice did he have with them. He squared his shoulders and held his head high. He wouldn’t cower and he wouldn’t make up an excuse. “I’m going to the administration office to drop this class.”
“Why?” Johnson asked, his voice reasonable and calm. He came around the podium and crossed his arms over his chest.
Ryan swallowed. This was not at all like Ryan figured the man would react. He expected a fit, or maybe some scathing words, but not the calm question of why. With a shaky voice Ryan started speaking. “I was only taking business because my father demanded it.” Ryan cleared his throat and continued with a stronger voice. “I’m tired of doing what my father wants. I’ve decided to change my major.”
Johnson walked to the first step that led to the set of stairs going up the bowl that made up the huge lecture hall. “Really, and what are you going to change it to?”
Sweat broke out over Ryan’s face and he glanced away from Johnson, hating the heat of his stare. “Art,” he choked out, embarrassed to admit he loved art in front of this huge group. His father had told him over and over again how shameful artists were, that they were scum of the earth.
More laughs from the students caused the professor to scowl. Ryan sucked in a breath, wishing he were anywhere but here. He hated when people scowled at him. His father scowled all the time. Hell, if his father knew the truth, knew that he liked boys, there would be more than scowling going on. Of course, his father wasn’t his real father. No, Michael was his stepfather, the man his mother married after his real dad took off. Ryan had been constantly reminded as a child how lucky he was to have any man in his life. Both his mother and Michael pointed out time and time again how deficient he was compared to Michael’s children. Being the son of Michael was difficult enough. The man didn’t need to know Ryan was gay.
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