When a vacation yields an unexpected surprise, choices must be made and love hangs in the balance.
When Colton Greenleaf returns to his parents buffalo ranch after college, he doesn't count on long-buried feelings resurfacing or the pull of the Wyoming mountains luring him home to stay. He tells himself its only for two weeks, that he can put up with anything for two weeks. But, when he comes face to face with the man of his dreams his first night home, he isn't so sure. Now, he must figure out whether to take the chance on love or follow his life plan and face losing out on love all together.
Emmanuel Keegan, known only as Hawk, knows that he is ready to settle down. The only problem is that the man he wants is twelve years younger and the boss' only son. Not only that, Colt doesn't plan on sticking around any longer than he has to. Hawk knows following his heart's desire could make him the happiest man on earth or it could shatter his heart for all time.
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Colton Greenleaf pulled his Jeep Wrangler Safari to a stop in front of the sprawling two-story ranch house butted up against the setting sun and inhaled deeply. Rest and relaxation in the cool mountain air was just what the doctor ordered — or in this case, the Physician's Assistant, Colton thought, smiling to himself. He planned to do just that for the next few weeks while he waited to hear if he got the job as a P.A. in the trauma centre at the Medical Centre of Louisiana at New Orleans on the outskirts of the French Quarter. Graduating with a four- point-oh from DukeUniversity's Physician's Assistant programme and high scores on the PANCE, the Physician's Assistant National Certification Exam, in addition to his volunteer work, would hopefully help him secure the job.
For now, though, he had at least two full weeks of carefree idleness — something he hadn't enjoyed since he started college almost seven years ago. The only thing that would make the next few weeks better would be getting laid, but that wasn't about to happen when he was three hours from Casper, forty-five minutes to Cody and fifteen minutes to the small town of Buffalo Heart Springs, which boasted a human population of eighteen hundred and seventy-six, and a livestock population of easily five times that.
"Evening, Colt," a low male voice said. The sound was familiar and sent shivers through his body, straight to his cock. "Welcome home."
Damn. Of all the people he had to meet now. He should have realised that the man would be still here and wandering around. He willed his erection away and failed.
"Hiya, Hawk. And it's Colton." He prayed he sounded calmer than he felt. The older man had been the source of most of Colton's fantasies since Hawk had shown up on the ranch two weeks after his sixteenth birthday, slipping into Colton's thoughts during classes and late night study sessions even when he was on the other side of the country. Colton had a feeling that he could be on the other side of Pluto and still be affected by the gorgeous man. "Thanks, it's good to be here. Missed it." Missed you.
"Long drive?" Hawk asked, smiling though concern laced the older man's voice.
"Yes. Stayed at a hotel about an hour this side of Lincoln last night. Drove the last eleven or so hours today," Colton replied, trying to replay the lectures, scenery, the women in his cohort, anything to soften his erection. It was a losing battle. Hawk's voice thundered through his body and enveloped his cock, hardening it. Colt could only hope his parents weren't home. He'd forgotten to call when he'd stopped in Shoshoni for gas and food to let them know he would be home tonight.
Hawk raised an eyebrow. "You look beat, Colt, let me give you a hand."
"I was going to leave it until morning, but thanks."
"Go see your folks, I'll start bringing it to your room," Hawk suggested.
"But — you — you don't have to. I can get it. I just wanted to wait until morning when I could unpack and put things away," Colton stammered. He hated it when the ranch hands tried to help him out, it made him feel weak and inferior. He was pretty sure they didn't mean to, but it didn't change anything.
"If you don't want your mom's help in the morning, I suggest starting tonight," Hawk replied, giving him a knowing smile. "I won't even peek."
Damn. Hawk was right. There were some things he didn't want his mom to see. His box of toys, books, and magazines for starters. He hadn't quite worked out how to tell his folks he was gay. Staying away made it easy to ignore the topic, so did keeping his grades up. He'd barely been home in the last three years. Colton ran a hand through his hair, blew out a breath, shrugged into his backpack before lifting the large box out of the front seat, keeping it firmly out in front of him. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Hawk's muscles flex as he grabbed a couple more boxes from the back seat.
"Thanks, Hawk, I appreciate it," he said, leading the way up to the house.
The front door flew open. The porch lights came on, flooding the area.
"Colton Tyler Greenleaf! How dare you not call and tell us you were going to be home tonight!" his mother shouted, pulling him down into an awkward hug. Colton leaned in to her, before standing and being slapped on the back by his father.
"Hi Mom! I'm sorry, I meant to call from Shoshoni, but I forgot, and cell signal is really bad in the mountains."
"Good to see you, son!" his father smiled. "Didn't realise you were moving back in."
Colton sighed and studied his dad. Jared Greenleaf was a couple of inches taller than his own six-two, but unlike him, was built like a linebacker. Once solid-black hair was now salt and pepper. Lines creased his features, but still he looked slightly younger than his sixty-two years. "Hi Dad. I'm not, just between homes right now. I'm waiting to hear on a couple of jobs, coming home seemed like a better idea than staying in Durham, pacing and waiting. Besides, I'm pretty sure I'll be busy for the first year or so, and being low man on the totem pole, I won't get the good vacation times."
"How are the animals, Hawk?" his father asked, turning to Hawk.
"Fine. Was on my way back from checking on them when Colt pulled in. Just giving him a hand with his boxes before I turn in for the night," Hawk replied. "I'll put these in your room, Colt, there is a suitcase and another box left in the front. Two boxes in the rear."
"Thanks, Hawk. The rest of boxes can stay there, they're just books. I'll grab my suitcase in a bit," Colton answered. He didn't want his parents to get the impression he was staying for more than a couple of weeks. He'd grown up here at the ranch, but he didn't want to stay here. He loved the city, and the twenty-four hour, faster-paced life. Where he could be himself and not worry about what the neighbours were going to say. Where it would be infinitely easier to find a man to love who would love him in return.
"I'll grab your suitcase, son. You and Hawk drop those boxes in your room and come down for some food."
Colton nodded and followed Hawk up the stairs, his gaze glued to the other man's ass hugged by the fitted, fading denim. Colton sighed. Maybe it had been a mistake to come home. Being this close to the object of his fantasies was going to be his undoing. Hawk stopped in front of his door, and waited. Shifting the box in his hands, Colton opened the door to his bedroom and allowed Hawk to enter first. Colton watched Hawk set the boxes down, before stepping next to the older man and placing his box on top. He wanted nothing more than Hawk deep in his ass, fucking him until he screamed. Colton let out another sigh as Hawk backed away and they both turned as his dad came in with his suitcase.
"Your mom is warming up some dinner for you, come on down."
Colton nodded. "Thanks again, Hawk."
"No problem, kid. Night, boss." Hawk smirked before disappearing out of the door.
Kid. Hawk still saw him as a kid. Colton wanted to scream and make the older man see him as an adult. He knew Hawk was gay. Even if his mom hadn't accidentally told him during one of his rare visits home, he knew in his gut not only was Hawk gay, but that the older man was his soul mate. They were meant for each other. He only wished Hawk saw the same thing. Hell, at this point he'd be happy with an affair. He wouldn't completely commit to a one-night stand being enough, but he supposed if that were all he could get, he would make it last. Colton sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Be right down. I want to wash the road dirt off and change my clothes first," he said as his dad continued to stare at him.
"Don't make her wait too long," Jared said, setting the suitcase on the edge of the queen-sized bed.
"I won't." Colton smiled. His mother stood just over five feet, but she was feisty and had no problems going rounds with anyone. His mom had been a nurse in the Marine Corps years ago. As far as Colton knew, she could still drop a man twice her size.
"Hi, mom," Colton called out walking into the kitchen. He submitted to her hug and grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator. He'd jacked off in the shower, coming to the images of Hawk fucking him hard and long, before changing into his only other pair of clean jeans. The other ones would wait . Teasing Hawk into fucking him was his only goal for tomorrow. Everything else could and would wait.
"Hi, sweetie, there is a plate of food for you in the microwave."
"Thank you." Colton kissed his mom on the cheek, grabbed the plate of food and sat down at the kitchen table. The smell was heavenly. It wasn't impossible to get buffalo meat at school, but it was definitely more than he'd been able to afford. Although, if he'd have asked, he was sure his folks would've sent some in a care package. "I need to do laundry tomorrow."
"Laundry room is free. Betty Sue asked about you," Nancy said wiping down the kitchen counters. "Wondering if you were still single. She likes you. She's a good woman, goes to church every Sunday, and wants a big family. She could be a model if she wanted."
"Mom, I'm only going to be here for a couple of weeks. I'm not moving back here," Colton sighed. He hated having this discussion his first night home. Couldn't she have at least waited until morning to try and guilt him into staying at the ranch and marrying one of the girls he'd gone to school with? He was sure they were nice enough, but he wasn't interested in them and hadn't been since puberty hit.
"Nancy, give the boy a break, he's been home for less than an hour." His dad walked into the kitchen and kissed his wife on the cheek.
"Thanks, Dad." Colton finished up the plate of food and stood. "I'm going to take a walk before I turn in for the night. I was up early and I'm beat." Rinsing the plate off, he put dishes into the dishwasher before leaving the kitchen for the relative safety of anywhere else. Colton swore as his bare feet hit the dirt and grass in front of the house. It would be a short walk. There was no way he'd walk too far without something on his feet. Heading for the corrals, he veered slightly and watched the mountains in the last of the dying light. Home. With Hawk by his side, he would be completely at peace here.
Surveying the landscape, he noted that very little had changed on the Maza Cante Ranch, which was Lakota for Metal Heart. His parents had bought it after his father had returned from Vietnam, buying it from an aging couple whose own children wanted nothing to do with it and had moved out of the state years earlier. They had kept the original name of the ranch but had bought additional buffalo, adding to the size of the herd, breeding some and slaughtering others until they had their own bloodline of buffalo, two of whom were Gold Trophy Show and Sale Grand Champions.
"What the hell —"
Colton turned to see Hawk's retreating form. Returning his attention to the mountains, he watched the buffalo move across the land. As much as he enjoyed the fast pace of the city, he knew part of him would always yearn for the mountains and the peace that came with watching the world fall asleep to a wild array of colours splashed against high snow covered peaks.
"Put these on," Hawk ordered returning several minutes later.
Colton's heart thundered in his chest. His cock hardened. "What the —" Colton stammered turning around.
"Boots. Now. They're big, but they'll do." Hawk held up a pair of battered brown hiking boots.
"Hawk, I'm not going any farther than the corral. I just wanted to watch the sunset."
"Put the boots on. All that time in the city dull your senses?"
"I don't need the boots. I'm not going anywhere and I'm not a child," Colton retorted, hearing his voice rise.
Hawk held the boots out for him, his dark blue eyes demanding. Sighing, Colton retrieved the boots and slid into them.
"I wasn't going anywhere but here," Colton said, wincing at how much it sounded like he was whining, temporarily ignoring how Hawk's bit of praise had warmed his heart and cock. It was something to explore later when he was alone. Complex thought processes weren't possible this close to Hawk.
"You know better. Why aren't you inside with your family?"
Colton shrugged, unsure of how to proceed. At school all of his friends knew he was gay, but here nobody did. Not even Hawk. Not yet. But if he wanted Hawk to fuck him, then he had to start somewhere. "She started in about how Betty Sue was asking about me. Mom already has us married and having kids." Shivers ran through him. He had nothing against Betty Sue or kids. He simply wasn't interested in making love to Betty Sue or any woman.
"Betty Sue is nice woman. Very pretty too," Hawk said turning towards him.
"Yes, but I'm not staying, hopefully I have a job in New Orleans. Besides, she's not who I want."
"And who do you want, Colt?" Hawk asked taking another step towards him.
Colton stiffened. "Why do you insist on calling me Colt? It makes feel like some damn kid."
Hawk regarded him a minute. "You are a kid. And you remind me of a colt. Young, curious, energetic and full of life." Hawk crossed his arms over his chest and stared at him. "Answer the question, Colt."
Colton shook his head, turning his gaze to the ground. "I'd rather not, if it's all the same to you."
Hawk stepped closer, lifted his chin, and forced him to look into Hawk's eyes. "There is nothing to be ashamed of. Never be ashamed of who you love."
Colton pulled back and spun around, not wanting to look at Hawk. "I'm not ashamed. I have nothing to be ashamed about!" Colton spat, trying not to shout. This was not a conversation he wanted to explain to his parents right now.
"Then tell me," Hawk said quietly, placing a hand on Colt's shoulder. "I promise not to tell anyone. Maybe I can help."
"I gave my word."
Colton nodded and stared out over the mountains. The sound strangled in his throat. "You." He managed to whisper. His secret was out. He'd never told anyone who occupied most of his thoughts.
"Look at me."
Colton shook his head, refusing to move. He didn't want to see Hawk's reaction, the rejection, disbelief, or anything else. Why couldn't he have kept his mouth shut?
"Look at me." Hawk repeated, his voice firm and demanding, the sound heading straight to Colton's cock. Colton wanted nothing more than to listen to Hawk. He stayed where he was.
Strong, callused hands grabbed his shoulders and turned him around. Looking up, he found Hawk's blue eyes and a look that appeared more to be lust than revulsion. That, he was certain, would come from his parents and the other hands. Accepting an employee was gay was very different than your own son being gay. Colton dropped his gaze to the ground.
Hawk lifted his chin forcing their gazes to meet. "Now, tell me again."
"You, alright? It's you I want!" Colton shouted. Reaching up, he pulled Hawk down to him and kissed him, pushing his tongue into Hawk's open mouth, tasting and exploring.
"What the —?"
"Just forget it!" Colton said. Pulling free from Hawk's grasp, he sprinted back to the house, the crunch of rock and gravel beneath his feet. Blood pounded in his ears. His heart thundered. He ran up stairs to his room, careful to not slam the doors, and flopped down onto his unmade bed. What had he been thinking? It must have been revulsion he'd seen in Hawk's eyes — he'd only hoped it was lust. That Hawk wanted him. He should've known better. Kicking the boots off, he rolled over and hugged his knees to his chest.
Hawk turned back to the house and Colt's retreating form. He hadn't been sure he'd heard Colt right the first time. The boy —
Man, he corrected himself. Colt was a man now.
Hawk shook his head to clear his thoughts. Colt had seemed embarrassed or ashamed. He'd only wanted to let him know that he was there if Colt wanted someone to talk to, or ask questions. Though, he wasn't sure if Colt had questions. He ran his fingers over his lips at the memory. The kiss, however unexpected and slightly awkward, was not the kiss from someone who'd never kissed or been kissed before. Where there was kissing, he was sure there'd been sex. In college with available alcohol and partners, sex would be easy to get.
Hawk's blood boiled, his temper rising as the thought of Colt kissing and fucking someone else formed and took hold. He wanted Colt to himself. Mercilessly, he tamped down on his temper. Colt wasn't his. Colt would never be his. Colt was leaving, and while New Orleans might be a fun place to visit, Hawk knew he would never stay.
Once Colt was in his bed, he wasn't going to let him go. So, in his bed was the one place Colt would never be allowed. Sex with Colt was out of the question.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Roping His Man"
Copyright © 2011 Simone Anderson.
Excerpted by permission of Totally Entwined Group Limited.
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