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Damien Hall got by with street wiles until he ended up in Corcoran State Prison. Five years later, he's living with a man who only wants him for one thing, nightly hot sex. But he's off the streets, and Damien thinks the trade-off is worth it. Travis Slater wrangles horses for a living, and wants to wrangle Damien in his off hours. Damien isn't so sure, and is terrified at the thought of being homeless again. When his employer admits the real reason Damien was hired, it's decision time. Do what's easy or do ...
Damien Hall got by with street wiles until he ended up in Corcoran State Prison. Five years later, he's living with a man who only wants him for one thing, nightly hot sex. But he's off the streets, and Damien thinks the trade-off is worth it. Travis Slater wrangles horses for a living, and wants to wrangle Damien in his off hours. Damien isn't so sure, and is terrified at the thought of being homeless again. When his employer admits the real reason Damien was hired, it's decision time. Do what's easy or do what's right? Only Damien can decide. Please note: This book is a stand-alone title but can also be enjoyed as the third book in the Slippery When Wet series by Jenna Byrnes and Jude Mason.
The sun was high and streamed through the slots in Damien's window blinds by the time he woke the next morning. He rubbed his eyes and glanced at the clock. Twelve-thirty. Not quite morning anymore. What did it matter? Charles was out of town for two weeks. Damien needed to find something to do to keep busy, or it would be an unbearable stretch of time.
He stumbled to the bathroom in his little two-room house and peed, then climbed into the shower. Warm water streamed over him and Damien turned the knob to make it hotter. After two weeks, he still marveled at showering by himself and using all the hot water he wanted. Showers in prison were never solitary and always too cold.
Damien shampooed his hair and washed his body, then stood under the hot spray for a few more minutes. Satisfied, he flipped off the water and grabbed a towel. The luxury of showering whenever he wanted, for however long he wanted, still made him smile.
Towel drying was the only attention his short, curly hair needed. He had no plans, and wasn't concerned about his appearance, considering he'd just be lying by the pool. He slipped into a white tank top and some loose-fitting, light blue swim trunks. Charles preferred him in his other suit, a skin-tight, nearly see-through little white number. Damien reminded himself that Charles was gone. No use tucking his package into the tight, sexy mesh number when there was no one around to appreciate it.
He slipped into a pair of rubber flip-flop sandals and headed up to the main house. There was no one in the kitchen so Damien made himself a ham and cheese sandwich and ate it sitting at the table while glancing over the morning newspaper. Inprison the newspapers were usually weeks old and censored, so it was interesting to see what was actually going on in the world.
He cleaned up after himself carefully, wanting to remain on Mrs. Starr's good side. He snatched an apple and a bottle of water and headed out to the pool. By his usual chaise lounge chair, he stripped off his shirt and set everything on the table next to him. Damien leaned back and closed his eyes.
Everything was quiet. Usually, he appreciated that. He'd sleep all morning, while away the afternoon by the pool, and think about spending part or most of his evening with Charles. With nothing to look forward to, the day seemed to drag interminably. After an hour he dove into the pool, swam a few laps, then settled back onto his chair. He grabbed a towel from a stack on the lower shelf of his chair-side table, and scrubbed his hair with it. The housekeeping staff kept fresh towels stocked by the pool, and kept the pool house clean as well. Damien knew he really had it easy.
"Nice day for a swim," a masculine voice said.
He poked his head out from under the towel and saw a tall man wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt. Long brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail, partially covered by a straw cowboy hat. A few wisps hung loose around his tanned face. A sharp angular jaw gave the man an almost menacing appearance, but his dark eyes held a look of amusement.
Long dark hair. The stranger from last night? Damien gave him the once-over. "Don't believe we've met."
"Mr. Austin just hired me. Travis Slater, the new horse wrangler."
"Oh, yeah." The sun shone brightly behind the man's head, and Damien squinted at him. "Charles said something about a new stable boy."
Travis snorted. "Don't know who he was talking about. Old Jeff out there is pushing sixty. And I'm nobody's boy."
Damien rolled his eyes. Not another one like Rick, the homophobic pool cleaner. Some guys were so touchy about what they were called. "Excuse me. Stable man."
"I'm a wrangler. I groom horses and I shovel shit, but I prefer to be called a wrangler. Most in my profession do."
Damien waved a hand. "Yeah, whatever. I gave up worrying about what people called me a long time ago." It wasn't true, but this guy would never call his bluff.
With a smirk, Travis crossed his arms. "So I guess you don't mind being called a pool boy. Oh, wait, you don't clean the pool. That tall guy does. So that would make you the sit-by-the-pool-boy."
"That's right." Damien tossed the towel aside and leaned back on his chaise, stretching. He folded his hands behind his head and flexed his pecs.
Travis glanced at Damien's chest then quickly looked away. An uncomfortable expression crossed his face as he shifted from one foot to the other.
Damien added, "The hours are long, but the work's not hard. The fringe benefits, on the other hand, are nice and hard. The big one, anyway." He grinned, aware that he was flaunting his situation. At that moment, he didn't care. This--stable boy--seemed to be judging him, and despite what he said, Damien didn't appreciate it. He'd taken enough crap in prison, and felt he no longer had to take it from anybody.
"Yeah, I heard about your benefit package." Travis screwed up his face with apparent disgust.
Shaking his head, Damien muttered, "God, you're just like Rick. Don't worry; I'm plenty satisfied with what I've got. I don't need to go sniffing around paranoid, homophobic co-workers."
Travis raised his eyebrows. "Rick would be the pool cleaner who actually works for a living? I'm asking, see, because I don't make assumptions about people. Like you're assuming I'm straight because I'm not drooling all over your tight little nipples."
Damien's eyes widened. "You're gay? Does Charles know that?"
Shrugging, Travis gazed at him levelly. "I've never hidden it. He seemed cool with the idea."
"Well, fuck!" Damien hopped up from his chair angrily. "Listen, you stupid cowboy cocksucker, if you think you're going to come in here and replace me, it ain't happening. I'm not going down without a fight."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Travis shook his head. "Are you that insecure, you think any gay man your sugar daddy hires might take your spot in his bed? Damn, it sucks to be you, you little bastard." He looked down his nose with amusement. He stood a head taller and obviously had just realized it.
Embarrassment burned through Damien and he knew his face had turned beet red. He'd gone off for no reason, other than the fact that this guy unnerved him. Finding out Travis was gay had thrown him for a loop. As if that wasn't bad enough, now the man was mocking his height. "Screw you," he sputtered.
"Snappy comeback. Hey, don't let me keep you from your job. I just thought I'd run up to the house and see if Mr. Austin needed anything from me. Anything at all." He smiled, showing a row of pearly white teeth.
"Tough break. You won't catch him in. You'll have to pedal your wares someplace else, cowboy."
Travis chuckled. "No pedaling necessary, little fella. The guys come to me. I have to fight them off with a stick. But right now, I have actual work to do, so I'd better get to it."
Damien frowned. "Yeah, maybe you'd better. Before I find a stick and shove it up your almighty popular ass." He gritted his teeth and added, "And don't call me 'little fella'. The last person who did wound-up in the medical ward."
Stepping back, Travis raised his hands and smiled. "No offense intended, boss. I'll be heading back to the stables now." He turned to walk away, casting a last look over his shoulder at Damien.
The fucker is still smiling. Damien hated that. He hated his own paranoid overreaction more. He could spout off all day that words didn't bother him, but it was fucking obvious they did.
He glanced at his lounge chair, then shook his head with irritation. After gathering his things, he stomped back to the pool house. He didn't feel like sunning any longer, and he had nothing to look forward to that night. It was going to be a damned long two weeks.
Posted February 10, 2011
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Posted November 6, 2012
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Posted January 15, 2011
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