Read an Excerpt
Aaron Chandler looked up from the papers he’d been studying as his foreman, Parker Jones, entered the office, a dreamy smile on his face
Aaron gave him a knowing look. “You’re mighty chipper this morning, Parker. Been talking to Royce, have you?”
“Uh, yes...he called first thing this morning. He’ll be here tomorrow noon.”
“I know. And you’ll most likely talk to him another half dozen times before then. You boys must be rackin’ up quite a phone bill between you.”
“Well...we got this special rate, y’see...”
Aaron chuckled. “I was just joshin’ you, Parker. You found me another hand yet?”
Parker relaxed a little as he prepared to answer. He was always a little uncomfortable when Royce’s dad got personal about his relationship with his son. No matter that Aaron had been a captive witness to the two of them reunited after a misunderstanding that had parted them for over a year. Parker had broken up with Royce thinking it was the only way to get him to take the lucrative offer from the law firm where he now worked. Royce had stormed out of Parker’s life but had rushed home when Parker called him to let him know his father had been injured in a road accident. While Aaron lay seemingly unconscious in a hospital bed, Royce, on hearing Parker’s reason for breaking up with him fell into his arms, and within earshot of his father, declared his undying love for his cowboy.
Aaron had chastised them for making fools of themselves in front of him but had given them his reluctant blessing, saying, “I can’t say I’m over the damned moon about it, but if my son has to spend the rest of his life with another fella, then I guess I’m glad it’s you, Parker.”
“Well?” Aaron looked at him expectantly.
“Oh, yeah—” Parker focused on his boss. “That’s why I’m here,” he said. “I interviewed this guy from Cattle Valley, Wyoming, yesterday. Name’s Miller, Jed Miller. Good references, been a ranch hand for the past five years, assistant foreman for two.”
“Why’d he leave Cattle Valley?”
“Personal reasons he says. I didn’t aim to pry too much. His references are good...”
“So you said, but personal reasons, Parker? What do you suppose that means?” Aaron frowned and stroked his jaw. “Was he rubbin’ someone the wrong way, gettin’ into fights? You call up there and talk to anyone?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Well, maybe you should.”
Parker shuffled his feet. “Boss, I...”
“I know, you don’t aim to pry, but I want to know what a fella’s about before I hire him. Supposin’ he’s a trouble maker?”
“Doesn’t seem the type to me. Told me right away he was gay. Said he hoped that wasn’t a problem. ‘Course, him comin’ from Cattle Valley I had that figured. So, I told him no problem, and I also told him ‘bout Royce and me. Hope you don’t mind, Boss.”
“I don’t mind if you don’t, Parker.”
“And besides, his references—”
“Yeah, yeah. Well, you haven’t let me down yet with your hiring. Bring him in so I can give him a once over.”
Parker glanced at his watch. “He should be here in a couple of minutes.”
“Good.” Aaron waved at the chair by his desk. “Take a load off ‘til he gets here. Want some coffee? Annie’s brewin’ some fresh as we speak.”
“Sounds good.” He sat in the proffered chair and stretched out his legs.
“So you’re lookin’ forward to Royce being here, I bet. You met this friend he’s bringing?”
“Yeah, Charles. He’s quite a character.”
Aaron raised an eyebrow. “By that, do you mean he’s, uh, flamboyant?”
“Not really—well, let me put it this way. He has one helluva sense of humour, can take a joke with the best of ‘em—and about his bein’ gay, he doesn’t hold anything back.”
“Hope he doesn’t scare some of the boys,” Aaron chuckled.
“Oh, they’ll be cool with it. They know all about Royce and me.”
“But you don’t, you know, swish.”
Parker managed a laugh. “Charles doesn’t swish, Boss. He’s just a little different. It’ll be fine, really. You’ll like him.”