In this stand-alone companion story to The Cowboy and the Dom Series, Sam’s only remaining brother, Army Ranger and EOD Specialist, Jim Bowie O’Reilly, suffers an injury in the line of duty, and is sent home to the family ranch in Texas to recuperate.
But sometimes you can’t go home again.
Thomas and Sam welcome Bowie for a visit in New York, but their D/s lifestyle doesn’t easily lend itself to long-term house guests. Enter Thomas’s trusted friend, EMT and former combat medic Gabriel “Angel” Rogers. The two men met once before when Bowie visited Sam for his birthday, and it doesn’t take the men long to admit they had an instant attraction. They soon discover their desires overlap as well and they set each other on fire.
But two big men need space and, as neither is in love with the city, Bowie invites Angel back to Texas to vacation in one of the run-down beach houses he’s flipped. On the eve of their departure though, Angel’s coworker and friend is gravely injured in an accident leaving his ambulance crew shorthanded, and Angel stays behind to help his team get back on their feet.
The distance might be more than either man can handle. With a whole country between them, they manage to derail something that had been going so well and it takes a risky intervention to stop them from ruining the best thing they’ve ever had.
- 3 To Be Read lists
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Beach Romance, Coming Out Later in Life, Friends to Lovers, Sex Buddies Become Lovers
Word Count: 80840
Setting: New York City, NY and Galveston, Texas
Languages Available: English
Gabriel never had a bad day.
He had some weird days, days that wiped him out, days he saved a horrible person or couldn’t save a good one, a day here and there that he’d like not to repeat, thankyouverymuch—but never a bad one. Nope. There wasn’t any such thing as a bad day if you made it home from Afghanistan.
Today had been like a nine out of ten though, man. They’d had winners on the bus: babies on the way, kids that were more scared than hurt, a little old lady with a busted hip that said she was a princess, a homeless guy named Augustus that could recite Shakespeare backward and was going to get a bed and three squares for a night or two. He’d take more todays if he had a say.READ MORE
He fought his way through the crowd at Mike’s, just trying to get to the bar because, goddammit, he was going to toast this day with a beer. The biker bar was always a madhouse on Saturday nights, but as the weather got warmer even more fools came out, and tonight he wasn’t sure there was enough room for him anywhere.
Fortunately, his six-foot-four frame made him easy to spot.
“Angel!” Darla shouted to get his attention.
He waved to the bartender, and she pointed at a bottle of beer crowd-surfing its way over to him. He grinned and blew her a kiss, grateful for friends who always had his back.
She waved back at him, all smiles and boobs. Lord, that woman could work her butt off.
He grabbed the beer, giving the guy who handed it over a high five, before taking a deep swig. Oh, hoppy goodness. Hell, yes. All he needed now were his two favorite people on earth. He pulled out his phone, texting Sammy and Tommy. One of them would answer. Mikes or club?
Mike’s. I’m half into a grenache already. Where are you?
Into a what? He swore sometimes Tommy just said shit to confuse him. Tell me ur not in this swarm
Thank fuck. Omw
He finished his beer before he stomped down the stairs and, with thick fingers, punched in the code for Mike’s little private lounge. It was a sweet setup—couches and a few tables, quiet and peaceful, a place where men and women of their persuasion could chill out.
He closed the door behind him, and all the noise stopped. “Ah. Better.”
“That was quick.” Tommy was his usual vision all in leather, sitting in a deep chair, his boy curled against one leg. “I guess angels really can fly.”
“Ha!” He laughed, the sound echoing off the ceiling tile and making him wince. Shit. Inside voice. “You look comfy.”
Little Sammy smiled up at him, the look warm and happy. Someone was in a fine mood—new haircut, old jeans, loose button-down that was two sizes too big. In a fine mood and had been busy too.
His fingers twitched. He wanted a hug. Sammy gave the best hugs. Then—talking about friends that always had your back—Tommy leaned over and whispered to Sammy, and the boy slowly got to his feet.
“Angel.” Sammy launched into his arms, hugging him tight. He grabbed the boy by his hips, because if Sammy was moving that slow, his back was probably well-striped. He wanted to see. Tommy did the best work, and Sammy was built like a tiny brick shithouse.
How about that? An ancient princess, a beer, a hug from Sammy, and everything was right in his stupid little world. Right on. “Hey, Sammy. You feeling good?”
“So good.” Sammy looked up at him, and there was zero question his friend was on cloud nine. “You need anything? Water?”
“Yeah, water would be great. You wanna show off your stripes?”
Tommy jumped in. “Only if you want to, sweetheart.”
“Oh. Yeah. Only if you want to.” Please let Sammy want to. Thank you. Amen.
Sammy blushed but nodded to him. It was still so new for Little Sammy, but he was blooming, working and happy, and making Tommy more relaxed in his own skin than Gabe had ever seen.
Sammy got him a bottle of water along with one for Tommy. Then Sam carefully removed the loose, soft shirt, turning so Gabe could see Tommy’s work.
Oh, yeah. Tommy was so good with a flogger. The boy’s skin was flushed red, and the lines from the flogger’s falls were consistently deep and evenly laid out. It was Tommy’s favorite instrument, and it totally showed. “Looks like someone was a good boy.” He smiled. “Very pretty, Tommy.”
Tommy gave him a nod. “My boy’s inspirational, as you might imagine.”
“Looking good, Sammy.” Really good. He patted a spot on the boy’s arm, well away from any marks.
“Thank you.” Sammy returned to Tommy, leaning hard against Tommy’s leather-clad legs. Tommy rested one hand on Sammy’s nape, the act possessive, the “mine” clear to anyone who looked.
Tommy and Sammy met after Sammy’s brother, James—Tommy’s sub and lover—was murdered by a jealous bartender who worked at Tommy’s BDSM club. They’d come a damn long way since that day. Sammy had seemed little more than a hotheaded cowboy then, and Tommy had always spent his time deep in the tradition and formality of the lifestyle. Apart from their shared grief over James, it seemed like the two had little in common.
Gabe would have bet money it wouldn’t work out, and he was happy to be wrong. Mostly. He’d take Little Sammy off Tommy’s hands in a heartbeat.
Heh. Who was he kidding? He loved them together. And he’d found a real friend in Sammy.
“Sit, craning my neck is uncomfortable.” Tommy laughed and pointed to a chair nearby.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” He plopped down and sprawled, nodding to a married couple and their boy held between them while they played a game of cards.
“So how’s things? Work good?” He asked about work because it was polite and all, and work was important to Tommy, but he was always in over his head once Tommy—and Sammy too, for that matter—started talking. He tended to hear art and money and research and donor and blahblahblah and he tried, but after a while he’d kind of tune out.
“…reception for the photography exhibit, and I’m trying to find a list of donors that would be willing to…”
Whoa. Yeah. He’d ask about football next.
Sammy grinned at him, eyes twinkling and wicked, like he knew.
“That’s about it I guess. You?”
“Same old, same old with me. It was good day today, though. Met a guy who could recite Hamlet backward.” He hadn’t read it since…a long-ass time ago, but it sounded like Hamlet.
Tommy laughed. “That’s a talent.”
“He was funny. Sick, though. Bad flu, I think.” He’d had better stories as a field medic, but he liked being an EMT. He was good at it, he met tons of people, and no one was shooting at him.
“I don’t know how you don’t catch every bug in the city.”
“Masks, gloves, don’t touch your eyes.” He grinned. “I did in the beginning actually, but I’m pretty sturdy. Aaron’s still getting sick every other week, but he’s a baby.”
“You’re just old.” Sammy was a turd. Adorable, but a turd.
“Didn’t you bring something to hit him with, Tommy? You know, nipple clamps are great for occasions like this too.”
“Actually, I like it when he says that. It makes me feel younger.”
Gabe snorted. “If the pair of you got any younger, you’d be in diapers.”
“Hey, I’m over thirty.” Tommy pretended to be offended. Or he thought that was pretending.
“Yeah, by the seat of your Pampers.”
Tommy’s jaw dropped, he made a little tick mark in the air, and they all started laughing. Sammy most of all.
Tommy sipped the water Sammy brought him and caught his eye. “So, have you heard about Clint’s new bartender yet?”
“He already hired someone?” He was still working up to going back to the club. He would. He probably could now that things were settling down.
“It’s a bar, Angel. How long did you think he’d be able to go without?” Tommy picked up the buzzing cell phone on the arm of the chair and looked at it. “Stephanie is calling me.”
Nothing like a call from your mother-in-law while hanging out at Mike’s.
Sam lifted his head, that frown immediate. “Answer. What if it’s Daddy?”
He caught the look between them, and Tommy answered. “Hello, Steph—yes, he’s right here, is everything all right?…Oh…bad?…Oh…of course, Momma, hold on.” Tommy held the phone out to Sammy, looking very much like he’d gotten bad news. “Sam.”
“Is it Daddy?” Sam reached up and took the phone.
Tommy shook his head no. “Talk to your mother.”
After James was murdered, Sammy’s dad had a stroke. But Gabe thought the man was recovering well. If it wasn’t Sammy’s dad, then it had to be…shit. Sammy’s big brother, Bowie, the Ranger, was deployed overseas. Fuck. He leaned forward in his seat, watching Sammy closely.
“Hey, Momma. What’s…oh. Oh, damn. How bad?…Okay. Germany. Right. Well, let me talk to Thomas, and I’ll call you back. Love you.…Yeah, yeah. I love you. Bye.” Sam hung up and shook his head. “It finally happened. Bowie lost to a bomb.”
Gabe sighed. Lost to a bomb. Bowie was a specialist. That could be some ugly shit. “How bad?”
Tommy slid off the chair to the floor beside Sammy. “What can we do?”
“He was lucky. He knew it was going bad. He was running. He’s got some damage to his left leg. They think they can save it.” Sam grabbed Thomas’s hand. “He’s in a hospital in Germany. How do you feel about going over to see him?”
“I’ll do anything you want, sweetheart. You tell me where and when, and I’ll get the tickets.” The look that passed between them was so intense; Tommy just took it on for Sammy without any thought at all.
It was hard not to be envious of that. Not of them, but of that look. That kind of connection. He cleared his throat and stood up. “I’ll get you guys a car, sneak you out the back. It’s a zoo up there.”
“Thank you, Gabe.” Tommy nodded to him. “Can you water the plants? We’ll text you when we know when we’re leaving.”
That request was not in any way, shape, or form meant to rub salt in a wound, but fuck if it didn’t anyway. What was wrong with him?
“Of course, man. Whatever you guys need, you know that. Hang here, I’ll text you when your car is outside.”
Tommy was getting Sammy up, putting that shirt back on the boy. “I’m real sorry, Sammy. You tell him thank you for me.” He gave Sammy’s shoulder a squeeze.
“He’ll be fine. I swear. I know he will.” Sammy sighed. “I guess this means he’ll be going home.”
For a lifer like Bowie, that might be harder to deal with than whatever happened with the leg. “He’s a tough nut. I’ve got faith.” That was about all Gabe was going to say. In his experience, the words “bomb” and “fine” didn’t cross paths that often. He headed upstairs to get some air and call an Uber.COLLAPSE
Related to The Cowboy and the Dom Series, but the book is a standalone.