- Cowboys Don't Come Out
Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii, with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.
Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.
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What did I expect? Whatever he thought, this wasn’t it. The small living room/dining area/kitchen combo shone so clean and bright, it defied the shabbiness. An old couch had been decorated with a bright throw covered with Hawaiian flower prints, while a couple of chairs stood opposite it, looking comfy if worn. At the center of things, a large table was set for three with mismatched but colorful ceramic dinnerware, and at the stove, wearing shorts, flip-flops, and an apron, stood Kai.
He frowned stormily. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I brought the kids.” Rand crossed his arms. Not moving.
Kai’s dark eyes flashed at his sister. “Damn it, Lani.”
Rand took a step forward. “Don’t you yell at her because you’re too chicken to face me.”
“Chicken?” He glanced at Lani and Aliki, and his chest expanded with a big breath. “It’s complicated.”READ MORE
Rand walked to the couch and sat. “I’ve got time to hear all about it.”
Kai huffed and turned back to the great-smelling onions frying in his pan. “Go back to your girlfriend and leave us alone.”
Rand glanced at Lani, who gazed at him like he should do something. “I already explained to Lani and Aliki how sorry I am about breaking up our party unexpectedly. My mom invited Julie, and I was so surprised, I didn’t act appropriately. I apologize.”
Aliki walked over and wrapped his arms around Kai’s waist. “Hey, brah, give the cowboy a break. He’s our friend, right?”
Kai looked down at his brother. Rand tilted his head to see Kai’s expression, and it was—soft. “Yeah, kaikaina, he’s our friend.” Kai looked over Aliki’s head, his face neutral. His chest expanded, contracted, and he said, “You want to stay for lunch, brah?”
Rand nodded. “Yeah. I’d like that. What can I do to help?”
“Maybe Aliki can be persuaded to eat salad if he knows his riding teacher made it?” He held Aliki’s chin and stared into his face. The kid wrinkled his nose and ran to the back of the house. Kai yelled, “Change your clothes and then come back and help.”
Lani had removed her boots and was wiping them with a cloth. “I’ll change too and be right back.” She grinned at Rand and walked out.
Alone—at last. “I really am sorry about yesterday.”
“Nothing to be sorry for. Hell, what you and your folks did for my kids—I can’t even say.” He shook his head, but his eyes never left the pan to which he’d added tomatoes, ground beef, and a bunch of spices that made the whole room fragrant and Rand’s belly rumble.
“I’m talking about you. You and me. I’m sorry for putting you in such a weird position.”
He glanced at Rand, frowned, and lowered his voice. “There’s no ‘you and me.’ You’re a haole tourist, brah, who goes back to his life tomorrow. I’m a brown-skinned dropout with mouths to feed.”
As kicks in the teeth went, that one qualified as pure, fourteen-carat-gold truth.COLLAPSE