Caylee Dishes About Jonah
Y’all don’t know me, but I’m Caylee Lynch, and Jonah Hollis and I have been best friends from the time we were both born. So I figure I can tell you a little bit about him and why he acts the way he does—even if sometimes I want to shake him for some of the decisions he’s made.
First of all, you need to know that Jonah is the sweetest, kindest person you’d ever hope to meet. You couldn’t ask for a better, more loyal friend, but he isn’t the type to enjoy drama or conflict. He’s not a coward, not by any means, but given a choice, he’ll go out of his way to avoid confrontation. It’s one reason he left our hometown of Oktaha to live in Dallas years earlier than we’d planned. Oh, we’d always dreamed of shaking the dust of rural Oklahoma off our feet for life in the big city, but we’d planned to wait until we both finished college first.
I knew Jonah was gay almost as soon as he did, but he’d never told anyone else, other than his parents. And the only reason he’d told them was in an effort to convince his mother that he and I were never going to be a couple, at least not romantically. See, my momma and Mrs. Hollis were best friends, and they both got married and had babies about the same time, and since Jonah was a boy and I was a girl, they thought it would be perfect if their children wound up marrying each other. I was only ten when my momma died, so I don’t know if she would have still felt the same once we were grown, but Mrs. Hollis never gave up on the idea. I love her dearly, but she’s an inveterate matchmaker, and she was always trying to throw the two of us together.
Jonah knew before he told them that they wouldn’t take it well; the church our parents raised us in teaches that homosexuality is a sin. But he hoped they’d understand his being gay was as much a part of who he was as his mother’s brown hair or his father’s height, and not something he could change to make them or anyone else happy.
The reality wasn’t quite what he wished for. It could have been worse—they didn’t disown him or kick him out of the house or anything—but it was definitely awkward. Mr. Hollis didn’t say much, but then he never says much about anything that doesn’t involve the farm and the hay crop. Mrs. Hollis said she was sure Jonah was just confused, and if he only tried hard enough with the right girl—meaning me—he could put all “this nonsense” behind him. Jonah said she couldn’t even bring herself to say the word gay, as if merely speaking it was sinful in itself.
When someone started spreading the rumor around town that Jonah was gay, I was proud that he didn’t try to deny it. Neither of us thought it made a bit of difference to who he was. But I was surprised at how hateful some of his so-called friends turned when they found out. Maybe if his parents had been more supportive, he might have dealt with it better, but like I said, Jonah hates confrontation. After a few weeks of being called ugly names or being snubbed by people he’d grown up alongside, he decided there was no reason to put off leaving for greener pastures.
He asked me to go with him, but I wasn’t ready to leave Oktaha yet. And I don’t know that it wasn’t better that he went without me. There was nothing in Dallas to remind him of home, nothing to keep him from being open about the wonderful person he really is. I knew it wouldn’t be long before someone would recognize and appreciate that. Of course, when things didn’t go smoothly, Jonah’s knack of avoiding conflict led to—well, you’ll have to read the story to find out.
Title: The Cattle Baron’s Bogus Boyfriend by Nicki Bennett
Publisher:Dreamspinner Press Dreamspun Desires
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Romance
Length: 216 pages
It might be a sham to his boss, but it’s all too real to him.
Administrative assistant Jonah Hollis has nurtured a hopeless crush on his boss, millionaire cattle rancher Lincoln Courtwright, ever since he started working for him. But hope is kindled when Linc and beautiful rodeo star Melissa Cutler break up just weeks before the biggest event of the Dallas social season, the Cattle Baron’s Ball, and Linc asks Jonah to accompany him in her place.
Is it all a ploy to make Melissa jealous? Can Jonah fit into Linc’s world? It takes some encouragement from his roommates and his best friend, Caylee, for Jonah to agree. Before long, Jonah dares to believe Linc might just feel something for him… until interfering family and a series of misunderstandings threaten his fragile dream of happiness.
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After eating lunch and making arrangements to pick Caylee up at her apartment at six thirty, Jonah drove from the diner down the county road to his parents’ farm. He passed his father’s tractor in one of fields and beeped his horn. His father raised an arm in acknowledgement but didn’t stop mowing.
The two-story clapboard farmhouse seemed smaller than he remembered it, or maybe it was just in comparison to the sprawling ranch house at the Broken Spoke. He parked the truck alongside his father’s newer model Ford, picked up his duffel from the seat beside him, and went inside.
He found his mother in the kitchen, canning tomatoes. Jonah couldn’t remember ever seeing his mother just sitting down with her feet up. She’d laughed at him once when he’d suggested it. “There’s always chores to be done,” she’d said, whether it was cleaning the house or doing the laundry or tending the garden or cooking meals.
“Jonah!” She turned from the stove to give him a hug. “It’s good to see you.”
“It’s good to see you too, Mom.” He remembered Linc’s comment that he was lucky to still have his parents and hugged her a little longer. “Lots of tomatoes this year?”
“With all the rain, we had a bumper crop.” She lifted a rack of mason jars from the canner and set them on the counter to cool. “I hope you’re taking Caylee somewhere nice for dinner tonight. Now that she’s broken up with Jack Ballinger, you’ve got another chance with her.”
He shouldn’t be surprised that she’d already heard about it—someone had probably called her from the diner as soon as he’d left. “Since you know about the breakup, I’m sure you also know the reason Caylee broke up with him. I love Caylee like a sister, Mom, but it’s never going to be anything more than that, because I’m gay.” The last three words came out in a harsher tone than he should use with his mother, but they’d had this conversation so many times before.
“If you just tried a little harder, I’m sure you could be happy with her. She’s such a lovely girl. She’d help you get past this sinfulness.” Her face tightened, and she shook her head. “How could you possibly find another man more attractive than Caylee?”
He’d never once lusted after Caylee, not the way he’d fantasized about Linc, but his mother would never understand that. He thought about telling her he was going to the Cattle Baron’s Ball with Linc but decided it would only make things worse. If it were a real relationship, he’d tell her, even if she’d never accept it, but there was no sense getting her worked up about a charade that would end once the charity event was over.
“This isn’t something I can change or you can pray away, Mom. It’s who I am, and I wish you could believe that.” He picked up his duffel. “I’m going to shower and get dressed for dinner.” His mother’s sorrowful gaze followed him up the stairs.
Growing up in Chicago, Nicki Bennett spent every Saturday at the central library, losing herself in the world of books. A voracious reader, she eventually found it difficult to find enough of the kind of stories she liked to read and decided to start writing them herself.