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Hardin Ranch, Wyoming
"Tony, dinnerâ€™s going to be ready in ten minutes."
Randy Herschâ€™s voice echoed down the hallway. Tony Romanos rolled over onto his back to stare up at the ceiling. Heâ€™d got in early that morning from Las Vegas where heâ€™d finished fifth at the PBR Finals. Not where heâ€™d wanted to end up, but heâ€™d been hurt heading into the first round, so he wasnâ€™t complaining too much.
Pounding sounded on his door. "Tony, you awake?" Randy opened the door before stepping into the room.
"If I wasnâ€™t, your polite knock would have shot me out of bed." Tony gave his friend a wink as he climbed out of bed. "Let me grab a quick shower and Iâ€™ll be out in a few."
"Sure. Hey, a letter came in the mail for you." Randy headed out of the room as he delivered the news.
He frowned. No one wrote him and very few people called him either. "Whereâ€™s it from?"
"Postmark says Texas. Doesnâ€™t your family live down there?" Randy stopped, turned and leaned against the doorframe.
"They live in Austin and wouldnâ€™t spit on me if I was on fire in the gutter." Tony grimaced as his shoulder ached. His last bull at the finals had jerked his arm and pulled some muscles. He slowly raised his arm over his head to stretch.
"Itâ€™s postmarked Austin, Texas. Are you sure someone from your family wouldnâ€™t write you?" Randy was puzzled.
Tony didnâ€™t feel like explaining his family situation to Randyâ€”even though he knew his friend would understandâ€”given what a bastard Randyâ€™s father was. "Doubt it."
"Are you done bothering him, love?" Les Hardin, Randyâ€™s partner, appeared in the doorway, slipping his arm around Randyâ€™s waist.
"I wasnâ€™t annoying him. Just chatting." Randy nuzzled Lesâ€™ cheek.
"I was teasing. Come on, let him get his shower. Margie doesnâ€™t like serving cold food." Les threw a grin over his shoulder at Tony as the older man led Randy away.
"Thank you," he mouthed.
He headed into the bathroom. A hot shower and some good foodâ€”that would revive him.
Ten minutes later, Tony joined Les and Randy at the dining room table. He knew they were both curious about the letter heâ€™d received, but he wasnâ€™t ready to talk about it. Heâ€™d noticed it on the hallway table, but hadnâ€™t glanced at it since. If it was from one of his family members, it wouldnâ€™t be good news.
"Will you be here for Thanksgiving?" Les spoke up as they began to eat.
He thought about it. Before he had met these two, heâ€™d have found a ranch to work at until the circuit had started up again. Now he knew he was welcome to come and stay for as long as he wanted. Hell, he even had his own room. With the PBR season over, he didnâ€™t have to be anywhere.
"Iâ€™m heading over to Hawaii for the new all-star event theyâ€™ve started. Itâ€™ll be done the weekend before Thanksgiving. Think you guys can stand me for the winter?" He took a drink of his beer.
Worry surfaced in Randyâ€™s eyes. "Weâ€™d never get tired of you. Hell, this is your home now, Tony. Weâ€™d never turn you away."
Les grasped his loverâ€™s hand. "He knows that. He was teasing." Lesâ€™ dark gaze studied Tony. "I have a new client coming in this week. Sheâ€™ll be staying for a week or longer. Depending on how well her horse responds."
Grateful for the change in subject, Tony handed Randy the bowl of mashed potatoes. "Does her horse have major problems?"
Les usually worked with a client for a week. That short time was enough to give the rider and horse a foundation to improve upon.
"I think the horseâ€™s problem is his rider. Sheâ€™s one of those types who think they know more than anyone else in the world. Itâ€™s hard on the horse because heâ€™s a veteran campaigner." Les shrugged.
"Les and I are moving Lindsay out to San Diego after Christmas. Youâ€™re welcome to come with us," Randy told him.
Apparently it was Randyâ€™s turn to switch topics. Of course, Tony understood why, since Les could spend the rest of the dinner explaining all the things the lady was doing wrong, and Tony had never got the whole English riding rules straight in his head.
"San Diego, huh? Going to get a chance to see Rich while youâ€™re out there? Howâ€™s he doing?" Tony took a bite of his steak while glancing at Randy.
"Good. Heâ€™ll be here for Thanksgiving." Randy chuckled.
The conversation drifted to general topics and Tony managed to relax, forgetting about the letter for a while.
After dinner, he reluctantly picked the letter up from the table. Randy was right. The postmark was Austin, Texas. He gritted his teeth and looked at the handwriting on the envelope. It wasnâ€™t TÃa Elenaâ€™s, but it was a feminine penmanship. Elena was the only member of his immediate family who wrote to him, though she was his aunt by marriage. He crumpled the paper in his hand and went through the kitchen.
"Iâ€™m going out to the barn."
Les and Randy were washing the dishes. There seemed to be more water soaking their shirts than in the sink. Randy waved to him before leaning in to kiss Les.
"Margie is going to be pissed when she sees the mess youâ€™ve made of her clean floor." Tony pointed to the puddle on the tile under their feet.
"Weâ€™ll clean it up later." Les snatched Randy by the waistband of his jeans and jerked their bodies together.