Pickup man Bridge Sullivan is the kind of cowboy everyone wants-as a brother, a friend, a lover. People think he's straight, but Bridge isn't one for labels, and when a sexy male paramedic jumpstarts his heart, he charges in with all guns blazing.
New York City transplant Eric Palmer grew up in foster care. While he always had a roof over his head, he never felt love or a sense of belonging . . . until he joined the California rodeo circuit as a paramedic and found a band of brothers who took him in as one of their own. Now, one in particular is making Eric's pulse race.
When things heat up between Bridge and Eric, Bridge has to prove to Eric he's not just experimenting with the rougher sex, while Eric must overcome his fears of being unwanted and cast aside. He knows that trusting Bridge may be the key to his happy ever after, but getting in the saddle is much, much easier than learning to let it ride.
Read an Excerpt
Let It Ride (Pickup Men, #2)
By L.C. Chase, Danielle Poiesz
Riptide PublishingCopyright © 2014 L.C. Chase
All rights reserved.
Two months later ...
Bridge leaned forward in his seat and gripped the wheel a little tighter. Not to keep the equine RV under control as he steered onto the rodeo grounds at Folsom, but to keep from jumping clean out of his hide. Blood pounded through his veins so fast his skin tingled and his brains felt loose and floaty inside his skull. Then there was the herd of wild horses charging through his stomach, leaving a jittery mess of exposed nerves in their wake. Anticipation overload. Thank God he hadn't drunk any coffee this morning or he'd probably be having a coronary right about now.
Kent's voice jolted Bridge out of his thoughts, but he hoped the truck bouncing through a pothole just then masked his surprise. The big Dodge lurched again when the trailer hit the same hole, and a loud thud let him know the horses weren't too happy about it either. He shot a quick glance at Kent, who sat in the passenger seat watching him, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses, cowboy hat low on his brow, but there was an amused lift to his mouth.
Bridge returned his focus to the driveway. Folsom's rodeo grounds were part of a park that sat along the banks of the American River. A densely tree-lined road led the way to the main spectator parking area and then wrapped around behind the arena to the designated lot for competitors and crew, which was half-hidden by more trees. The first lot was empty, as he'd expected, but he didn't have a clear view of the one behind yet. Damn trees were going to make him wait until the last minute to see if Eric's truck was already there.
He managed to keep his voice casual. "Share what?"
"Why you're smiling," Kent said. "I know you didn't get laid last night, so what is it?"
Damn. Bridge hadn't realized he'd been smiling like a crushing high schooler.
He cast another sideways look at Kent and shifted in his seat. Well. It's like this, Kent. I get to see Eric again today—for four whole days, actually—and I'm really excited because I've been having erotic dreams about him for months now, and maybe if I'm lucky, it wasn't all fantasy and I really will get laid this weekend.
But he couldn't spill that out of the blue without some sort of preamble, could he?
"I'm just looking forward to getting back at it," he said instead, steering his rig around the far side of the arena.
"I am too, but this is only a preseason clinic. Nothing to get that excited about." Kent's tone said he didn't buy Bridge's answer for a second. Bridge had known he wouldn't. The annual rodeo school was a great way to teach greenhorns a few things and introduce new cowboys to the sport. Kent taught roping sessions, and Bridge and Marty worked pickup, as well as ran a session on their profession. And while it was fun, it wasn't that exciting. Not unless he was the greenhorn. "And this is far from your first rodeo, cowboy."
"I know. I'm just excited to see the guys again. Marty and Tripp." Bridge rolled his hands on the wheel. "And Eric. It's been too long."
"Yeah, it has." Kent finally turned his attention to the grounds in front of them, and Bridge felt Kent's all-too-observant stare fall off him as if it had been a brick sitting on his chest. But the feeling was fleeting. The sense of lightness that had him on the cusp of floating out of his seat the whole drive left him when he pulled into the parking area and found it empty. His body sank back into the seat like a deflating balloon.
"Told you we'd be the first ones here," Kent said. "I don't know why you were in such a rush to get going, especially since this is pretty much our backyard."
Bridge ignored his best friend and guided the rig toward the back of the grass lot and parked. Kent hopped out of the cab, and Bridge hung back for a second to release a long breath before following. "Chill, dude," he mumbled to himself. "It's just Eric."
He huffed a short laugh and shook his head. There was nothing just about Eric Palmer. He took another deep breath and ran his hands over his thighs, then exited the truck and met Kent at the back of the rig. Together, they went about their practiced routine of unloading the horses and tethering them to hooks welded along the outside of the trailer. Once the horses were secure, Kent climbed up the short ladder on the side of the big fifth wheel.
"You're going to tell me what's had you practically whistling like a kid on his way to Disneyland the last few days." Kent's disembodied voice carried down from the roof of the rig, followed by a grunt. The trailer rocked, and Bridge jumped back when a bale of alfalfa came flying at him without warning, landing where he'd just been standing.
Kent peered over the edge, a cocky grin on his face. Bridge glared up at him. "Dude. That was a bit close."
Kent snorted and put his hands on his hips. "Met a new girl, right?"
"What? No." He shook his head. "There's no girl." He pulled a Swiss Army knife from his belt loop and leaned down to slice the baling twine. "I told you. Just excited to get on with rodeo season."
"Which doesn't officially start for another two weeks."
True, but he wasn't ready to share what had him feeling like a five-year-old on Christmas Eve yet. He had to see Eric first. Make sure he wasn't building up some wild imaginary love affair that would never exist beyond a few crazy dreams. Okay, there'd been a lot more than a few dreams, and the only crazy thing about them was how much he wanted them to come true, but still ...
"Shut up and throw down another bale."
Kent disappeared from view, but his laugh echoed across the empty lot. Bridge began splitting leaves off the bale and putting them in the mesh feed bags they'd strung up between their five horses. Kent, a state champion steer wrestler, only needed one horse, but as a pickup man, Bridge worked all day every day and needed fresh horses with different abilities for specific events. Light, fast, and agile for the bronco and roping events, and a big, solid horse that could handle tangling with a two-thousand-pound beast, if it came to it, for the bull-riding events. In general, though, that was a scenario they all made a point of avoiding. His job was to make sure every cowboy and animal that entered the ring left it safely. Including himself.
The low rumble of a heavy-duty engine drew his attention just as Kent climbed down from the roof of the trailer.
"Here they are," Kent said. Excitement laced his smooth voice, and Bridge had to laugh. He smacked the brim of Kent's hat, knocking it askew.
"Who's the excited one now?"
"Hey!" Kent adjusted his hat, shaking his head, and stepped over to stand beside him, bumping shoulders with him. Bridge smiled and threw an arm over his shoulder. Kent was a few inches shorter than him—about the same height as Eric—and he wondered if Eric would tuck under his arm as comfortably as Kent did.
They both waved as Marty approached in his own equine RV—not quite as big as Bridge's because he only had four horses to haul, but still impressive. Marty angled his rig parallel to Bridge's, cab to trailer so their doors opened to each other, as they always did, in their own circling-the-wagons kind of way. The tradition stemmed from when they'd first started working as pickup men, and some of the good old boys hadn't been too keen on Marty's out-and-proud presence, so they'd parked their rigs this way to create a safety barrier of sorts. After a few years, the regulars began to accept that Marty's orientation had zero bearing on how well he did his job, and things, while not completely safe, were safer, but their parking habit remained the same.
Marty jumped down from the cab of his truck, a huge smile splitting his handsome face, and threw himself at Bridge. They were the same height, though Bridge packed more muscle and bulk, but that didn't stop the air from whooshing from his lungs on impact. He stumbled back into one of his horses, who gave a disinterested swish of his tail and continued munching his hay. Bridge wrapped his arms around Marty and hugged him tightly.
"Man, you're a sight for sore eyes," Bridge said, his voice tight with emotion. They'd only seen Marty a few times since Marty and Tripp had gotten back together after a nasty breakup at the end of last season. It had been a tough time, but the two of them were working through and finding their happiness. And seeing Marty's light shine so bright always had a way of reminding Bridge that all was right with the world.
Marty stepped back, holding Bridge's arms by the biceps. His green eyes glittered with joy. "You're looking good, B."
He gave a squeeze, and then he let go, turning to wrap Kent up in another bone crusher of a hug.
"I miss seeing you guys all the time," Marty said when he let Kent go.
"Same here, Smarts," Bridge said, and Kent nodded.
Tripp hobbled up beside Marty. He'd never walk without a cane again, but he was moving with much more confidence now than the last time Bridge had seen them. Marty slid his arm around Tripp's waist, and a light blush crested over Tripp's cheeks, his mouth lifting in a shy, crooked smile. That was something Bridge never thought he'd see—Tripp accepting any kind of PDA, let alone acknowledgment of Marty in public—but he was damn glad for his best friend that Tripp had finally broken out of the closet. Bridge approved of this new more relaxed and expressive Tripp.
"Hey, Bridge." Tripp held out his hand. "Good to see you again."
"Screw that." He knocked Tripp's hand away and pulled him into a solid hug. They'd had their differences, but Tripp had earned his respect when he came out and made a stand for Marty. Even though it had cost him his career. "You're family now, dude. How many times do I have to tell you that?"
Tripp laughed and stepped back, holding a hand up in surrender. "Okay, okay. I got it." Then he turned and accepted a hug and playful smack on the back from Kent. Bridge caught Marty looking at him, his gaze warm and shiny, like tears might be brewing. Thank you, he mouthed. Bridge smiled back and nodded.
With greetings out of the way, they went back to setting up for the weekend, but he couldn't really concentrate. Every ten minutes, he looked at his wristwatch. Every distant rumble of a vehicle engine had him inconspicuously peeking around the trailers.
The afternoon progressed slowly, and the sun began its determined descent toward the horizon, pushing long shadows out across the spring grass. The constant rise and drop of adrenaline in his system was beginning to wear on him. Maybe he'd saddle up Breeze and go for a ride along the river trail. Kill some time and try to settle his nerves. He lifted his hat and ran a hand through his hair, then turned around, and his heart shot into his throat, choking off the ability to breathe, speak, or even think.
Eric, the man of his dreams—literally—stood near the back of Marty's rig looking way too sexy in worn jeans, sneakers, and a turquoise golf shirt fitting tight enough to show off the hard muscle beneath. His short-cropped, dark-blond hair sparkled like gold in the sun's fading rays. A single dimple bracketed one side of a warm and friendly smile.
"Hey, guys." Eric addressed them as a group, but his sharply accented voice coasted over Bridge like an intimate caress, sending a rush of heat southward to pool in his groin.
He hung back, rendered immobile by Eric, live and large just ten feet away from him, and watched while his friends greeted his walking wet dream one by one with hugs, backslaps, and smiles. He'd worried that he'd spent too long in his fantasies, that his imagination had blown everything out of proportion and he wasn't really physically attracted to Eric, but the second the paramedic walked in his direction and engulfed him in a hearty hug, every doubt he'd ever entertained vanished. Feeling Eric's body so close, the heat that radiated from him and bled into Bridge, and smelling the tantalizing spice-and-citrus scent of Eric's cologne, proved his dreams were far from exaggerated. They had been nothing but a poor tease of the real thing.
He fought the urge to bury his nose in Eric's neck, to suck an earlobe into his mouth, and to keep his body from showing just how happy he was to see Eric again, but he couldn't let go of his living fantasy either. Eric broke the embrace first and looked up at him with those captivating eyes, so much more intense in person. "Good to see you again, Bridge."
"Yeah." He cleared his throat, but his voice sounded a bit too deep and husky to his ears. "You too." You don't even know.
Oblivious to the raging hormones wreaking havoc on Bridge's libido, Eric turned and clapped his hands twice. "Well, what the hell are you all standing around for? Let's go get some grub and play some pool!"
* * *
"Thanks, sweetheart," Bridge said, taking the fresh pitcher of beer from the waitress and then dropping a couple of bills on her empty tray in its place. She looked up at him through long eyelashes and smiled.
"Can I get you anything else?" Her voice practically purred, and the slight raise of one dark eyebrow clued him in to the fact she was offering more than a fresh bowl of peanuts or another round of chicken wings. She was definitely pretty—long, dark hair fell loose over her bare shoulders, a short skirt showed off long legs, and a tank top displayed the rest of her God-given assets—and though he would have definitely been interested not all that long ago, he now had his sights too firmly set on someone else.
He shook his head and smiled. "We're all set."
"Okay. Well ..." Her pout was subtle, but she stepped closer and pressed a napkin into his hand. "If you change your mind."
Don't hold your breath, darlin'. He tipped his hat, and she turned, casting a seductive look over her shoulder before walking away with a little extra swing of her hips.
Kent stepped up beside him and began to refill his beer mug. "She's sexy. Get her number?"
Bridge shrugged and dropped the napkin—he knew without looking that it had her digits on it—on the table in front of Kent. "Here. Give her a call."
Kent stopped mid-pour and nearly dropped the pitcher back on the table. His eyebrows disappeared under the brim of his hat, and his mouth fell open. "Since when do you turn away a hot girl like that?"
"What's going on?" Eric said, coming up behind Bridge and reaching for the pitcher to top off his beer, saving him from having to come up with a quick answer. "You look a little shocked there, Kent." He stood close enough for Bridge to catch another whiff of his cologne. Damn, but the man smelled good. Bridge couldn't stop himself from shifting a little closer and inhaling a little deeper.
"Nothing," Bridge said. He didn't know how to tell his friends what was going on yet, and he had to find out if Eric could be on the same page first. What was the point of telling them he might be gay, or bi most likely, if the only man he was interested in wasn't interested in him?
Kent snorted. "B has a new girl he's not telling us about."
Eric frowned. "You do?" He stepped closer to the table, probably to hear Kent better over the almost-too-loud music in the sports bar they'd wandered into. His arm brushed Bridge's when he lifted his mug to take a sip. The touch was light, unintentional, but the effect was still enough to send a thrill coursing through Bridge's veins. He took a swig of his beer and swallowed hard.
"Who's got a girl?" Marty said, holding the pool cue out toward Kent. "Your turn."
"B's been singing and smiling to himself for a few days now," Kent said. He took a quick drink before taking the cue stick from Marty. "And I swear he drank an entire pot of coffee this morning, with the way he was pinging around the truck on the drive here today."
"I was not pinging." Bridge straightened to his full height and puffed his chest out a little. "And I already told you, there's no girl."
Kent gave him a skeptical look and then shook his head before walking over to the pool table to take his shot. Bridge looked back at Marty and Eric, both watching him with curious expressions.
Marty and Eric shared a glance but didn't saying anything. They didn't need to. Bridge could read the disbelief in their amused smiles. He rolled his eyes and took a long draught of his beer.
Excerpted from Let It Ride (Pickup Men, #2) by L.C. Chase, Danielle Poiesz. Copyright © 2014 L.C. Chase. Excerpted by permission of Riptide Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Let it Ride. L C Chase. Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews I loved the first book in this series Pickup Men, and we meet Tripp, Marty and Kent again in this book which concentrates on rider Bridge and paramedic Eric. Eric quite new to the group, and he's had a tough background, abandoned by his family because he was gay, in and out of foster homes since, and no lovers have stayed the course so far. He's decided he'll protect himslef by not getting close to a lover again and he values greatly the freindship he has with this group. Bridge though – straight man he thought though he'd has one flirt with a guy as a teen. He's been with girls since and then he met Eric last season and can think of nothing else. He invades his thinking daily, even his dreams so he has accepted that he's not straight but Bi, though can he persuade Eric he's serious. Eric – he's worreid about losing his friendship if things go wrong – that whats happened in the past. When lover leave so do their families and friends and he's alone again. He doesn't want to risk losing his friends here...somehow Bridge persuades him it'll be ok and they find a way forward. Cue some hot and sensual action – then – despair and it's very moving and tearful. Poor Bridge, he was heartbroken...I felt for him so much, and yet I understood Eric too. I love it when authors can do that, make the reader symapthise and understand each persons view, even though they are rooting for a different result. It's a beautiful love story, feels very real, and the problem of losing connections when relationships break up applies to everyone, not just Gay couples, its always something where so many people lose out :-( Though I really enjoyed this novel it didn't quite hook me as much as Pick-up Men did. A good read but not quite a five star one. Stars: Four. Arc supplied via Netgalley
This could not be anything but a hit with me. It has 2 of my favourite things in it gay romance and cowboy's. This is essentially Eric's story its about him learning his own self worth and the meaning of unconditional love. It is both beautiful and heart wrenching. I did spend a lot of the book wanting to slap Eric upside his head and never more so when the inevitable happened. That being said I really did enjoy this book and want to read more in this series. Oh I also need to say that I have not read book 1 but that didn't matter there is enough history given that you don't miss any subtle nuances. So all in all a damn fine read.
This story is vivid and exciting. The author captured my heart and my imagination. Chase’s writing is straight forward and approachable while remaining entertaining and enticing. I thoroughly enjoyed how real everything was. Readers can easily picture the rodeo & the ranch. I was inescapably drawn into this story. Not only was it well developed and well written, but it was wrapped up with an extremely captivating storyline. Chase shows both the upside & the downside of her story and of human nature. Being the 2nd novel in the series, Chase does a brilliant job of giving just enough background information that new readers won’t feel lost without boring readers returning to the series. The characters in this story were as unique and captivating as the storyline itself. I couldn’t help but fall in love with them individually and as a group. The main characters were quite well developed. I appreciated getting to know them, and that their development was in no way superficial. Their hopes and fears shape this story like no other. As a whole this was a brilliant read. It was an approachable, enjoyable quick story that kept me coming back for more. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys a sweet & spicy m/m romance with all the trappings. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
Not as good as the first book in the series.
First I have to confess that this author is an auto-buy for me that I discovered when I read Riding With Heaven. Let It Ride follows characters we meet in Pickup Men, cowboys on the rodeo circuit. For me, both stories are intense, but in different ways. Pickup Men seems to have more action, where a lot of the conflicts are external, physical. Let It Ride has more internal, emotional conflicts. But let's face it, they both have some steamy loving with hot cowboys. This group of characters makes you want to be a part of their world, a part of them. I gasped, held my breath, sighed, teared up and smiled throughout this wonderful read. I am even more sure now that I will watch for and immediately pick up this author's next offering.