Claw Marks & Card Games

Stallion Ridge # 2

by Maz Maddox

Cooper Woodlock is a man who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Between his gambling debt and being a widowed father, he can never seem to get Lady Luck back on his side.

Desperate for a winning hand, Cooper starts hitting saloons and tempting fate in order to keep the bloodthirsty Spades at bay.

When a black-clad gunslinger enters the game promising a slice of freedom, Cooper realizes all too late what he is actually playing for.

Published:
Editors:
Illustrators:
Genres:
Tags:
Pairings: MM
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Tropes: Badass Hero, Criminals & Outlaws, Families/Raising Kids, First Time
Word Count: 65K
Languages Available: English
Excerpt:

He had lost.

Everything.

All the winnings of the night were swallowed up by one goddamn game. Cold sank into his bones as the blood drained from his face, his eyes locked on Gunner’s winning spread. The man didn’t make a move to collect everything, instead he sat back and pulled a rolled cigarette from his vest and put it between his teeth.

“Guess you were right about your luck,” Gunner said casually, striking a match and lighting his cigarette. The flare of the fire close to his face made his green eyes seem to glow as he focused them on Cooper’s devastated face.

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“Fuck,” Cooper whispered, putting his head in his hands, fisting some of his hair in heartbreak. He had been so damn close to getting some peace in his life and he blew it all in one stupid game of chance. Hell, he had almost died for that pot and now it was all gone.

Smoke curled around Gunner’s face as he exhaled some smoke from his lips. “Win it back.”

Cooper shook his head, pulling his glasses off to rub at his tired eyes.

“I ain’t got it in me. Not after all this,” Cooper huffed. “My head’s turned inside out and my stomach’s in knots.”

“You have a chance to not leave empty handed.”

Cooper glanced up as Gunner reached into his pocket, taking out a stack of rolled bills and tossing it onto the table. If Cooper’s jaw was able to reach the floor, it would have bounced off his boots. That stack was probably hundreds of dollars. Hundreds. Something that would actually put a real dent in what he owed the Spades and give him and Marybell a slice of life back.

Working some saliva back into his cottonmouth, Cooper finally croaked, “I ain’t got that much to wager.”

“What else do you have to wager?” Gunner asked, pulling from his cigarette, his tone deceptively calm. Cooper narrowed his eyes and pulled his glasses back on, sitting up taller to not look so defeated.

“What are you asking me, exactly?”

“If you don’t have money to wager, what else can you offer to the pot?”

“Like...what? Property? Jewelry? Cause I don’t have either one. Everything you just won was essentially all I have.”

Gunner sat forward, resting his strong forearms on the table to aim his fierce eyes directly into Cooper’s blue ones.

“Not like property or jewelry.”

Cooper, now intrigued, mirrored his pose and furrowed his brows. “Let’s stop dancing around, Gunner. What exactly are you asking me to put on the line?” He wasn’t about to let himself get trapped into another bad situation with an untold entity by not clarifying all the rules and stakes. Not again.

Gunner took another drag, exhaling through his nose. “You.”

“Me?” Cooper shook his head, the light not coming on until a couple seconds later. He sat up quickly, mouth agape, then glanced around wondering if anyone heard. Gunner watched stoically, not moving, waiting for Cooper to reply. Cooper’s heart was pounding in his chest as he swallowed and leaned back over the table.

“Are you propositioning me for sex?” he hissed quickly, properly scandalized.

“Did I say sex?”

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Maz is an m/m romance fanatic, dabbles in yaoi, adores dinosaurs and writes romance stories with a healthy heaping of adventure mixed in.
When she's not pairing up Centaurs with bank robbers, she's plotting new stories and sending inappropriate texts to her friends.


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