No Going Home

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Overview

Six years ago, a hoof to the head ended Leslie Hardin's show-jumping career and his relationship with the man he loved. Broken, hurt, and rejected, Les has focused his energies on rebuilding his life.

Les's accident has shown him that the most valuable treasures are usually found under an imperfect surface, and his reputation for taking in strays starts to grow. But it's one of these strays in particular, injured rodeo cowboy Randy Hersch, who ...

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Overview

Six years ago, a hoof to the head ended Leslie Hardin's show-jumping career and his relationship with the man he loved. Broken, hurt, and rejected, Les has focused his energies on rebuilding his life.

Les's accident has shown him that the most valuable treasures are usually found under an imperfect surface, and his reputation for taking in strays starts to grow. But it's one of these strays in particular, injured rodeo cowboy Randy Hersch, who captures more than just his compassion.

Between his disapproving father and his chosen career path, Randy has always felt the need to deny his passion. But when Les takes him under his wing, Randy begins to realize that he is truly strong enough to admit his true self-to himself and the rest of the world. But in the arms of a broken man, can he find acceptance.and love?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595783936
  • Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2006
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"Damn horse," Randy Hersch muttered as he shifted, trying to find a comfortable spot in the seat of his truck. His body ached, he wanted to stop and rest for a while. He'd spent the last two weeks in the hospital, and he had a sudden urge to go back to the Rocking H and see his family. He hadn't called to let his sister know he was injured or that he was coming home.

He stopped the truck at the beginning of the driveway and stared at the buildings. The Rocky Mountains proved a beautiful background for the ranch he'd grown up on and left when he was eighteen. The anger and hate between him and his father had gotten to the point where one of them would end up killing the other. Randy left the day after graduation and hardly came back anymore. After getting his leg broken and his body stomped by an angry bronc, he decided it was time for a visit.

It had been a year since he'd last visited. The ranch didn't look like it used to. No longer were the barns painted the dull gray his father seemed to favor. They were the bright blue he'd come to associate with clear Wyoming skies. The windows and doors were trimmed in pristine white. There were three more new buildings on the other side of the main house. He remembered his sister telling him they had to build more foaling barns.

It's not home anymore, he thought as he drove up to the main barn filled with organized chaos. His sister Tammy stood in the aisle, directing the ranch hands. He climbed stiffly out of his truck.

"Hey sis, what's the circus for?" He made his way to her.

Tammy whipped around. Squealing, she raced towards him. He was only able to stopher from launching herself at him at the last moment.

"Wait, girl. Be careful. I'm bruised." He accepted a gentle hug from his favorite sibling.

"Oh Randy, are you here to recuperate or to stay?" Her gaze skipped over his body looking for injuries.

"Staying's never been an option for me, Tammy. You know how Dad feels about me." He shoved his hat back on his head. She wrinkled her nose but kept quiet. He took in the view of spindly-legged foals gamboling beside their mothers.

"What are you doing with the babies?"

Her face lit up. "It's time to pay the rent on those three hundred acres Daddy leased from our neighbor, Les Hardin."

"What does the rent have to do with the foals?" He scratched the velvety nose of one of the mares.

"Les gets his pick of each year's foals. That's what we pay."

"Wait a minute. Who set up that deal? He's robbing you." Randy was furious.

The Rocking H bred and trained some of the country's best cutting horses. Each one of those foals was worth tens of thousands of dollars and it was far more than the property they were leasing was worth.

"Wait, Randy. Don't go off half-cocked. Les and I worked out a deal. Just wait and watch." She pointed to the plume of dust heading towards them. "He's here."

Randy bit his lip and fought back the urge to argue. He wasn't going to treat his sister the way their father treated him. Tammy had taken over running much of the ranch when she turned eighteen. He had to trust she knew what she was doing.

He stood back as a beat-up black truck clattered into the yard. When the tall man wearing a black cowboy hat stepped from the vehicle, Randy clenched his fist and pressed it to his stomach. He'd never felt such a kick of attraction before in his life.

Les Hardin was an inch or two taller than Randy was. His hair was cut short enough to be covered by the cowboy hat. The tanned skin attested to hours in the sun. Les' thin lips pulled up in a smile as Tammy greeted him, but Randy got a look at the man's eyes. Dark brown and filled with a sorrow so deep, Randy thought he'd drown in it. Here was a man who had lost everything important to him.

Randy's dick hardened and he groaned. He didn't want to lust after this man. He didn't want to get involved with anyone near the ranch. It made his life more peaceful when he did come back. At least it was one less reason for his father to hassle him.

Those brown eyes turned his way and he realized Tammy was waving for him to come over. Reluctance dogged his steps. Why did he get the feeling this man would change his life?

"Les, this is my older brother, Randy." Tammy introduced them.

"Ah, the bronc rider."

Les' voice was a deep honey drawl. Randy's skin tingled where the man's eyes traced the cuts on his face.

"Did you stick?"

Blinking, Randy realized Les was talking to him. "Yeah, made eight. Then the pick-up rider screwed up. Dropped my ass right in front of the bitch and she stomped the shit out of me." He held out his hand. "You must be Les Hardin. Heard you bought Old Jake's place."

He fought back the shiver threatening to race down his spine when Les' rough callused hand closed around his and shook.

"Yes, I did. It was bigger than I was looking for, but it was available when I needed it."

Something flickered in those sad eyes, but it was gone before he could make it out.

"Good thing we were looking for land to lease." Tammy grabbed Les' arm and dragged him towards the mares and their babies.

Disappointment burned in Randy's stomach. First man in a while he'd been seriously attracted to and it looked like his sister had prior claim. Didn't it figure some of the best looking ones weren't gay?

He made his way to where Tammy was gushing over the babies. He stood close enough to listen in on their conversation but not close enough to put a damper on it.

"Tammy, Jackson said to meet him out at the usual place tonight if you're interested." Les' voice was low, as if he didn't want anyone else to hear.

"Oh, he's back from Arizona? How'd the show go down there?"

"We added a few more ribbons to the Black Bart legion. You'll be getting a few calls, I'm sure."

Randy smiled. Black Bart was the Rocking H's top stud. He bet half of the year's crop was Bart's offspring.

"Great. I'll get the scoop from Jackson later." She winked at Les and said, "See any you like?"

"They're all beautiful, Tammy, but where's the one you really want to show me?" Les' drawl had become brisk.

Tammy's face dropped. "Sorry. I'll show him to you."

Randy started to step forward. He had vowed to stay out of it, but no one was going to talk to his sister that way.

Les placed a hand on Tammy's arm. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. It's been a hard day and my head's pounding." The man swept off his hat and Randy stifled a gasp.

A streak of white along the right side bisected Les' dark hair. It outlined the slight concave dip in the man's skull just above Les' right eye. The man's fingers skated over the scar and the dent before the cowboy hat went back on.

"Oh, Les, you should have said something. I could have hidden the foal one more day until you felt better."

"It's all right."

"Hide the foal? What the hell are you talking about?" Randy joined them as they made their way to a barn set away from the others. "What's a foal doing in the quarantine barn?"

"Here he is. I hope you're willing to take him. Daddy wants to put him down." Tammy gestured to the closest stall where a large bay mare stood.

"Sally Jane? What's she doing out here?" Randy held out his hand for the old mare to lip softly.

"Here." Les handed him a sugar cube. "I don't usually give them sugar, but I forgot to grab some carrots when I headed over here."

"Thanks." He tried not to think about the tantalizing scent coming from the man. Sweat, leather and horse was cologne he'd always found attractive.

They noticed the little bay colt at the same time. Randy snorted in disgust while Les sighed.

"What's Dad doing waiting to put this one down, Tammy? He isn't worth anything."

The milky white film over the colt's eyes told them he was blind. His front legs were crooked and Randy knew the colt probably would never walk right.

"You were right to hide him. I'll take him."

Randy put a hand out. "Wait. You don't want this one. He's worthless. Blind and crooked legs. You won't be able to use him for anything. It's best just to put him down and pick a different one."

Coldness rushed into Les' eyes and Randy had the oddest feeling he might have lost something he never knew he needed.

"Can you take Sally Jane as well? This is her last foal. She's too old to have another. I heard Daddy talking about getting rid of her as well."

"Yes, I'll take them both. I didn't bring a trailer though." There was a roughness in Les' voice. The lines around the man's mouth deepened. Pain was etched into his face.

"We'll trailer them over later tonight, after Daddy's gone. Thank you, Les. I knew you'd understand." She threw her arms around the man and hugged him. As she ran out, she shouted back, "Tell Jackson I'll meet him."

Silence reigned after she left. Les didn't seem inclined to talk to him. Randy wasn't sure what he had said to anger the man.

"You won't be able to use him for anything, you know." He had to break the silence.

Les turned to him. Bleakness replaced the cold in his eyes. "Prefect creatures find no worth in imperfect things."

The man tipped his hat to him and walked. He had the feeling Les was talking about more than the colt.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted April 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Loved it

    Read all three in the series....you will not be disappointed. I like that the characters continue over into the next book. Go ahead and enjoy....I did.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2013

    LOVED IT!!

    Loved this story.

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