In my efforts for redoing all of the books that were recently released by Rebel Ink Press, as you can imagine, there are a few that really grab my heart. This piece is one. The story was originally written for an anthology and the tale just took on a life of its own. Now I’m adding even more, filling in the back story that so many of my readers wanted to see. This is a very poignant same sex book about love that transcends death as well as envelopes the all encompassing love of an animal. Coming in a few days. Please enjoy a taste of…
HEARTS FORGED IN FIRE
“She’s a bute, isn’t she?”
Zeke smiled as he shaded his eyes. The late afternoon sun had cast the most incredible illuminated shadows cascading down from the snow-covered mountains. He squinted as he drank in the sight in front of him. David was so damn good with animals and the way the horse was reacting to him was nothing short of amazing. “Where did you find her?” Easing his cell phone out of his pocket, he took a picture of the two, wishing he had the digital camera in his hand.
“Long story,” David said as he darted a look in Zeke’s direction before he furrowed his brow and continued brushing the horse.
There was such a haunted look on David’s face, one that appeared more often than not lately. Sniffing, he could tell the horse was honing in on their raw emotions. Animals were keen on heightened levels of love as well as distress. “I’m not going anywhere. As a matter of fact neither are you. Besides, seems like a huge storm is coming in. Maybe we can grab a bottle of wine, sit in front of the fire and just talk like we used to.” When David continued to brush the horse, every move methodical he sighed. “Or didn’t you get the memo about the blizzard?” Their standing joke, he could see the slight smile crossing his lover’s face.
David gave him a look, issued a slight smile and turned away, continuing to brush the horse. “I got it. Two feet?”
“Yeah. We’re prepared. I managed to get the cattle corralled and the barns are filled with feet.” Damn, David didn’t even react. Shoving his hands in his pockets Zeke walked forward. The horse was a gorgeous animal. “So tell me about the mare.”
“Made a deal with the Milestone Ranch. She needed a good home.”
“So you just offered to take her off their hands.” The Milestone Ranch? The folks were good people but rarely gave up one off their prized horses, only the ones that couldn’t make the grade. And this gorgeous mare was special. He could tell that from where he was standing. So the horse had to have cost… He couldn’t even think about the dollars, money they didn’t have. Zeke walked closer. He could always tell when his man was up to something. David was terrible at hiding anything.
“Some guy I know had a birthday so I thought I might kill two birds with one stone.” David kept his eyes pinned on the horse.
“No buts. This is a special occasion. You didn’t really think I’d forget about your birthday, did you?” David’s voice was filled with angst.
Stopping short Zeke couldn’t help but smile. He’d all but forgotten about his birthday, not that many holidays meant anything to either one of them. The look on David’s face was one of mischief and for several reasons he was surprised. David was all business. David didn’t believe in anything frivolous. His lover was all business, a very strong worth ethic ingrained in him. Zeke respected that about him. Still, all they’d been doing lately was working, trying to save the ranch. He’d gotten so lost in the inertia of four in the morning starts for the daily chores followed by late nights of paperwork, he’d forgotten just about everything that was important in his life. “Such a humanitarian.”
“Eh, you know me.”
Zeke sniffed and moved closer. He’d never loved a man like he did David. They were such polar opposites that they both remained shocked their love was so intense. Placing his hand on the mare’s neck, he instantly felt a shiver trickling down his spine. There was always a jolt of current when an animal was special, one that could reach inside and grab a human’s heart. This horse could steal his soul. He leaned his head against the horse’s neck, rubbing her mane. He closed his eyes and a single snort coming from the horse gave him a smile. She knew exactly what Zeke was thinking. “You are a beauty.”
“I knew you’d like her. Happy Birthday. I wish there could be more.”
The moment he felt David’s fingers brush over his cheek he exhaled slowly. “This is perfect. I couldn’t want anything more than sharing a night with you.” Smiling, he opened his eyes and seeing tears in David’s startled him.
“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. “What?” Sniffing, he words echoed as he blinked several times, trying to focus. The memory was bittersweet. He clenched his fist and fought tears. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.”
“Obviously. You’re not paying much attention to anything as of late. That’s part of your problem and I’m pretty fucking tired of the sad sack routine.”
“Sad sack?” His rather conservative sister never cussed. Sandi usually had very subtle ways of making her point.
“How can we afford this?” Zeke insisted.
The moment their fingers touched Zeke shuddered.
Zeke blinked again, a sob threatening to slip from his mouth.
“Yep. You heard me. You’re my brother and I love you, but it’s time to started living.” Sandi walked closer.
Wiping his mouth he groaned. The visions were so real, so vivid. Why? “Living?”
“You heard me.” Raising her eyebrow she looked down at his desk and the papers he held in his hand. “All you do is work without regard to your health or welfare. Meanwhile you’re not getting any younger.”
“Thanks a hell of a lot, sister of mine. Are you going to tell me why I should care about living again exactly?” Shoving the groups of papers into his desk and shutting his laptop, he hissed and realized his hands were shaking. David would be so angry with him for allowing the situation to get this bad.
“We have to make the mortgage,” Zeke insisted.
“Already taken care of,” David said then kissed Zeke on the lips. “You worry too much.”
“Right. Like you don’t.”
“Zeke Parker, you’re 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’re 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.” Zeke pushed the drawer shut with a thud and glared at her. “And I’m living my life the way I want.”
“Oh yeah? Leave it to your own accord and you’ll be alone for the rest of your life.”
Exhaling all the hot air in his lungs slowly, he tried to keep the rather nasty words inside his mouth. Zeke knew his sister meant well. Almost twenty years older, she’d been his best friend and surrogate mother after their parents were killed in a plane accident. The wretched time had occurred when he was barely nine. How she did managed was still a moment of wonder for him. Working two jobs she supported them through thick and thin while trying to run her ranch. She’d never married and he doubted had even a single love interest since she’d accepted her responsibility. She was a rough and tumble woman who took no shit, especially from him. “It hasn’t been that long.”
True love can be found in many ways…
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, leaving him empty inside. Nothing seemed to matter. Only the love of a horse kept him from going over the edge. As Valentine’s Day drew near his sister, Sandy was determined to drag him out of his private hell. Agreeing to be a part of a charity auction for the humane society, Zeke figured one date with a wealthy woman wasn’t going to kill him. But during dinner at Sandi’s house, Zeke meets movie producer Drake Wilson, who’s scouting locations for an upcoming movie, and sparks fly.
Drake has an ugly past of his own, one that keeps him from sharing his heart with anyone. After an impetuous moment of heat, both men are skittish and each have their reasons for pulling back. But Cupid has other ideas in mind. When a rouse brings the two men together, passion roars between them but damning secrets are too much for either to deal with. Just as Zeke is determined to give up on love forever, tragedy strikes, forcing both men to face their greatest fears. Can one horse be the strength both men need to fight the fires of love?
What do you think? I hope you enjoy. The two men truly fill my heart.