Back for the Valentine’s Day Blog Hop. I do love my cowboys and I’m going to give you a hot m/m piece that’s burning up the charts! Well… I love writing about m/m pieces and there’s been a huge controversy about this but isn’t love simply love? That’s what I think anyway. Take a taste and I hope you enjoy…
HEARTS FORGED IN FIRE – REBEL INK PRESS
For rancher Zeke Parker every day was difficult. Not only was Rattlesnake Ranch falling on hard times but he couldn’t get over the horrible grief plaguing him for over a year. The death of his lover David had nearly stripped away his soul. As Valentine’s Day drew near his sister Sandi was determined to drag him out of his private hell. Agreeing to be a part of a charity auction for the humane society one date with a wealthy woman wasn’t going to kill him. During dinner at Sandi’s house he met movie producer Drake Wilson, who was scouting locations for an upcoming movie, and sparks flew.
Seeing David’s horse Milly and her strong reactions to the mysterious man, Zeke was intrigued. After an impetuous moment of heat both men were skittish and each had their reasons for pulling back. It seemed Cupid had other ideas in mind. When a rouse brought the two men together passion roared between them but damning secrets were too much for either to deal with. Just as Zeke was determined to give up on love forever Cupid intervened again and this time, the arrow went straight through his heart.
EXCERPT – UNEDITED
“If you don’t get your head out of your ass I’m going to do it for you.”
Coke flew out of Zeke’s mouth landing all over his tee shirt. Coughing, he gazed at his sister with a mixture of shock and awe. After all Sandi never said cuss words. Never. Wiping his mouth he groaned. “Are you going to tell me why exactly?” Shoving the papers in his desk he hissed and realized his hands were shaking.
“Zeke Parker you are one sexy as hell man with your long golden hair and rugged body and yet you sit alone night after night playing with your toys,” Sandi huffed as she tsked her finger. “I have a mind to take you over my knee and spank your ass.”
“What’s gotten into you this week? You had to meet me for lunch, you are begging me to meet this guy who works for you and you’ve ask me to go to some damn frilly party. If I didn’t know better I’d think you were trying to fix me up.”
“Leave it to your own accord and you’ll be alone for the rest of your life.”
Opening and closing his mouth Zeke knew his sister meant well. Almost twenty years old she’d been his best friend and surrogate mother after their parents were killed in a plane accident when he was nine. Working two jobs she supported them through thick and thin while trying to run her ranch. Never married she was a rough and tumble woman who took no shit, especially from him. “It hasn’t been that long.”
Sandi smiled as she walked closer, her eyes filled with sadness. “Long enough. I’m not asking you to forget David, just move on. He’d want you to. You have to know that. I really want you to have some things of your own and learn to be happy. All you do is work day in and out. That’s not living and you know it.”
Even the sound of his name brought a tear to the corner of his eye. Unfortunately he didn’t know how to live any longer and was making more of a mess out of the ranch than anything. “I know,” he whispered as he gripped the can with enough force he crushed the middle. “He would. I just can’t seem to drag myself out to meet anyone. I have the work here at the ranch and my writing and that keeps me busy.” Gazing out at the mountains he sighed and thought about the wonderful times he’d shared with David. They’d been so damn happy for almost three years, even considering a more formal arrangement but then David had… “I just can’t do it.”
“I’m very proud of you for taking this place and making it not only stable but thriving especially right now but the place and the work can’t consume your life. You’re a young man and you need to find someone else.”
Closing his eyes Zeke cringed. While he continued to wallow in his self misery the ranch was slowly going downhill and his pride kept him from telling anyone including his sister. “Someone else? Do you know there are days I can barely get out of bed? If it wasn’t for the fact I need to feed the animals and get the workers started every morning then I might not get up period.”
Sandi shook her head. “If you’re really that depressed then we need to get you some help.”
“What like damn psychiatrist who’s only going to tell me what I already know? I’m grieving. What’s so wrong with that?” Suddenly incensed he broke away from her hold and stalked to the front door nearly ripping it off the hinges before thumping out onto the porch. The day was freezing and the fresh snow highlighted the trees like a beautiful blanket. Winter had always been his favorite time of year.
Tipping his head back he gazed at the puffs of clouds and sighed. David had always called Montana God’s country. Chuckling, he remembered the first time the man had shown up at the ranch lost and almost out of gas. He was visiting his brother and had taken the wrong road. “Oh David,” he breathed and clenched his fists. The wrong road had taken him almost a hundred miles out of his way.
As luck would have it David had been forced to stay the night. Talking had turned into dinner and a bottle of wine in front of the fire and against all odds they ended up in bed together. Somehow the man never left except to collect his things from San Francisco. An art critic, David had a keen eye for talent. And he gave up a mostly thriving business to be with Zeke. The years they’d been together were the happiest in his life and Zeke was grateful for having them. And now he was very much alone with no life. Sandi was right about so many things. Giving him the reins of Rattlesnake Ranch was a wonderful deed given the fact he’d almost fallen into a bottle and stayed but some days he could barely tolerate. For months he worked like a dog and then despair had taken over again. Beads of sweat trickled down his back. It was time to buck up and face the damn music before something so precious was gone.
“You’re going to catch your death of cold out here,” Sandi breathed as she folded her arms.
“I feel peace out here. The cold clears my head.”
“I love it too. There’s nothing like looking at the mountains awash with fresh snow.”
They stood silently for several minutes.
“I’m only asking that you join me for dinner tomorrow night. That’s it. I really want you to consider coming to the charity event and being a part of it. All the proceeds are going to go for the humane shelters and I know how you love animals.”
Groaning, Zeke turned and could see the mischievous grin on her face. “I can tell you’re up to something.”
She’d been trying to get him to commit to the event for almost three months. “I hate to remind you of this but I’m gay and I don’t think that’s fair to the women doing the bidding.” Yet for the first time in days he couldn’t help but laugh. The thought of women pawing him, hungering was both interesting and a bit terrifying.
“Well I didn’t ask you to have sex with the winner, just take her out to dinner.”
“Sandi!” Shaking his head he feigned being shocked. In truth she had an ornery streak that ran though her like the wind. “When is it again?”
Giving him a naughty grin her eyes twinkled. “February thirteenth. Just in time for a Valentine’s dinner out.” Realizing her faux paus she hissed.
“Don’t worry, sis. Everyday was like Valentine’s day for David and I.” While it was true the slice of a knife sliced through his heart harder than any cupid’s arrow.
“So you’ll do it for me? I need one more or it’s not going to be the even dozen I promised.”
“Even dozen, eh?”
“Please? I promise you I’ll leave you alone.”
What do you think? A little cowboy love for you?
I hope you enjoyed and don’t forget to join the others on the hop!