Writer In Progress; Flankman (A Crow Creek Novel) by Nya Rawlyns
November 30, 2014 2 Comments
I asked Nya why she chose this scene, and she explains:
“This is one of the first scenes in the book where the reader gets a glimpse of what makes Danny tick, the depth of his feelings for Tristan—his hopes and dreams for the future and the untenable position they find themselves in because they are forced to keep their relationship secret. Danny knows the rodeo championship is on the line and Tristan stands more than a fair chance to hit the big time. Danny’s made a few assumptions about what Tristan wants. Sometimes a man can be wrong.”
“She did good today.” Tristan peeked through the poles on the portable twelve-foot metal pole fence that was part of a warren of pens set up to handle the overflow stock when the number of entries warranted it. His eyes were shaded with his beater Stetson, but Danny knew they twinkled like the devil. What he could glimpse was a bit of scruff on Tristan’s square jaw that did nothing to hide the deep dimple, made all the more pronounced by the man’s puckered lips. Throwing him kisses, daring him to respond in kind.
Danny acknowledged Tristan with, “Hey,” and a brief nod. He wasn’t giving in, not directly, though his cock was heading to its happy place, snugged up tight against the zipper on his Wranglers. Thank God for chaps. The supple leather protected him from abuse, inside and out, preserving what little modesty he could garner when Tristan Wells was around.
Ignoring the taunting, Danny asked, “You get the draw yet?”
“Nah, they’re still working up tomorrow’s schedule up to the main office. Said come back after dinner.” He nudged a five gallon bucket packed to the brim with grooming tools under the rail.
Leading DaisyMae as close as he dared to the fence, seeing’s how she wasn’t keen on riders or anyone who made her work for a living, Danny clucked encouragingly. The wily mare was having none of it. She planted her feet in the thick sandy loam, glued in place. Danny shrugged and reached for a curry brush.
While he worked the thick coat into a glossy sheen, Tris continued. “Mac said he’s not seen such attrition…” waggling his fingers to emphasize the word, “…since earlier this year, up to the Roundup in Wichita Falls.”
Mac was the local, southwest Texas organizer for the ranch rodeo series. Lots of riders—those working day jobs, or committed to their own holdings and not able to make competing a full time occupation—worked the smaller circuits throughout the state. Three Bars Livestock Ltd. serviced both first, second and third tier circuits with quality stock, had done so for coming on twenty-some years. Mostly Danny handled the broncs, leaving the bulls for another arm of the operation. During his apprenticeship, he’d gotten hurt enough early on handling bulls, so he was happy to leave management of that demon stock to men who were more nimble and less bulky than his five-eleven, two-twenty-and-change stocky build allowed.
Since he hadn’t been keeping track, Danny asked, “How many are left in saddle bronc for tomorrow?”
“Six… No wait, five. Jennsen got disqualified when one of the judges caught him pulling leather.”
Danny laughed. “Finally. That asshat’s been getting away with it for far too long. ‘Bout time somebody called him on it.” Jennsen was a local legend, one of the untouchables who’d fallen back on the less demanding circuits to get his adrenaline fix. San Antonio boy made good, he brought back a championship or two, enough to keep the fans starry-eyed whenever he showed up to ride.
Problem with legends … the crowds would give you an automatic bye for minor transgressions, but only to the point where you royally screwed up. After that, well… Jennsen was going to have to think about that used truck dealership a little more seriously.
Danny heard the roar of the crowd. “Bull riding musta started.”
“You done there?” Tristan’s voice was laced with hope and impatience. They’d been separate damn near a month, him on one circuit, Tris on another. It sucked, but they’d learned to make do, take their pleasure when and where they could.
“Give me fifteen to get her settled. I’ll throw some extra hay out. Top off the water.”
Tristan stood, taller than the highest rail. It made Danny’s heart skip a beat. “I’ll get the water. You do hay.”
Just like old times, they worked like a team, completely in synch with each other. He nodded and led the mare away to her personal space next to the geldings. She was the only mare in the herd that weekend, so he saw to her comfort by keeping her separate and away from any conflicts that might arise. He released the bull snap and set DaisyMae free, watching with narrowed gaze as she strode confidently toward the water trough. There was no shortness of stride, no evidence of tightness high up. His girl always came off these events stronger than when she went in. She’d earned her rest this year, which was why he’d backed her down to a ranch rodeo rather than the big event the following weekend up in Dallas.
DaisyMae’s dance card had taken her all over the great state of Texas, into Oklahoma and Nebraska. She’d put paid to any complaints she was getting on in years, that she was past her prime. Her record was unsullied, one of the greatest rides in rodeo history. Danny would see to continuing her legacy by retiring her to the owner’s elite broodmare operation. He had a stallion in mind, but that required a trip north and some fast talking to convince the owners that his old girl deserved better than what the local boys had to offer.
He had a plan, Stan. Part of his excitement at hauling ass and getting away with Tristan was to run his crazy idea past the man he loved beyond reason. They’d talked about it a little, in fits and starts as they said, but now he wanted to dump the teakettle, see how much change fell out. See if his dream, and Tristan’s, could come together somehow.
He had friends, friends of friends, who’d made it work, made staying together possible, even acceptable. The problem was… Tristan was still on the upswing, moving to a beat that had a bead on Vegas and the Nationals. The lure of the biggest buckle of all, the heavyweight championship, glory, money, fame, respect. It was there for the taking, and the way Tristan was riding this year, karma said it was his time. The Championship was his to win or lose.
Danny was down with that. He backed Tristan a thousand percent and more. His lover was twenty-six, right at the peak of his athletic ability, his body yet to play him false. Bronc riding was arguably the toughest sport on a man’s body, period, full stop. Tristan had already racked up a file full of broken bones, torn this, that and the other. Without any body fat to cushion the falls, he took it harder than most, even with the protective vest he wore at Danny’s insistence.
What made it odd was him caring more than Tristan about the championship. He’d been the one to send in the entry forms, setting up the schedule that kept them apart for weeks on end, seeing an end game that had Tristan fulfilling a dream his lover claimed not to have. Danny was convinced he’s seen through that. Despite Tris’ willingness to sacrifice his God-given talent for a life with an older, broke-down cowboy in the name of love, Danny thought he had a little better perspective. He liked looking big picture, seeing into future possibilities … not that he had a sterling track record, but so far it’d kept him anchored enough to handle the commitment they’d settled on.
That commitment was the most worthwhile thing in his life. He and Tris had love; they’d owned it for the last two years. In secret. And nothing that had taken place before or since they’d said the words, “I love you,” meant squat. But Danny understood a young man’s passions, maybe better than most. He saw how his brothers ended up, how he’d struggled to make something of himself. He understood sacrifice, what it meant, its hard edges and what it took from a man. It didn’t always turn out the way you expected. And it wasn’t always worth it, if you measured it in material terms. On the flip side, he also didn’t buy sacrifice as its own reward. But he did see, at the ripe old age of thirty-five, that a man made his own destiny, if he could just see a way forward. And if he couldn’t?
Hell, that was why God invented bulldozers…
He and Tristan might not be able to have it all, but to have something… If anyone was going to sacrifice, it was going to be him.
That meant keeping their secret safe. And one thing he knew for certain, he was sick of secrets. Sick to death of them. He wanted them to live together outright, not catching a night on the run, a quick blow job in the back seat of the truck or, God help them, in the tack room on the small two-horse tagalong. Humping over the back of saddles, gut-jabbed with horns, jeans around their goddam ankles. Biting their lips ’til they bled to keep from screaming each other’s names out loud.
“Fuck that.” The sound of his own voice rasping his anxiety and his irritation was too familiar. The owner of Three Bars had given him a golden opportunity. All he had to do was convince Tristan to come along.
Working efficiently, Danny pulled bales from their spare horse trailer. They always brought their own hay from home, the area north of Houston yielding the kind of brome and alfalfa mix he favored for traveling. When the stock was back on the ranch, they went au naturel, totally grass fed, except in times of drought. Then he and his men had a devil of a time providing the right kind of nutrition to keep their herd in tip-top form.
He never once forgot he was responsible for some of the finest athletes in the equine world, a fact that some might dispute. If they dared. He grinned. Most didn’t, not after he’d shown them the error of their ways. With his fists. Talking wasn’t his strong suit.
Their neighbor, Marty Benner, was an endurance rider, ran a spread offering ranching vacations and riding adventures. She was a tough old bird who taught him more about equine nutrition and conditioning than any class he’d ever attended.
Marty would approve of his plan, he was sure of it. So did his friend, Dr. Sam Turner. In fact, Sam and his partner, Will Halliday, were the ones who had set him on his quest.
Sam knew ranch sorting inside and out. He knew the stock, he had his finger in a lot of pies. Danny also knew of some small spreads that might be available in the Waco area, for rent—not his first choice but you had to start somewhere. Work your way up. It was an up-and-coming sport, not one that had hit Texas proper like a house a’fire, but it had a future. A future he and Tristan could parlay into a good living. That and breeding roughstock and gaming horses.
All he had to do was convince Tristan Wells that if they were going to make a life together, it was going to require planning, and a damn sight more risk than what they were currently considering. He was going to pull the age and experience card and hope to hell the young man didn’t just bolt out of fear or, worse yet, acquiesce just because Danny said so.
There was a happy medium to that future, with them living together as partners. God, could we ever be a real couple, not glorified roommates? But in Texas, you tread carefully, especially when you didn’t carry a big enough stick.
Tristan, with a rodeo championship under his belt, would have an arsenal of weapons to employ. He’d be in a position to set terms and conditions, help them with their finances, give them a base of support to make a go of it.
And if a buckle eluded them? Well, at least Tristan would know he’d tried.
Danny closed up the trailer and secured the locks. On his way to the parking area for the rigs, he thought about what he was asking Tristan to do, what he was asking of himself. Debating whose dream he was really servicing.
He had no answers to any of his questions, except for one. Did he want to spend the rest of his life with Tristan Wells? That one was a no-brainer.
Muttering under his breath, Danny hurried toward his rendezvous, knowing full well the question for that day was … had he temporarily reset his priorities to just getting laid?
One look at the tall man standing by his horse trailer was all he needed. He groaned in anticipation. “Oh hell, yeah.”
Nya Rawlyns is the pseudonym of a writer who cut her teeth on sports-themed romantic comedy and historical romances before finding her true calling in the wilderness areas (both the urban jungles and true mountain vistas) she has visited but calls “home” in that place that counts the most: the heart. She writes M/M erotic romance because her good friends deserve to have their amazing stories told.
She has lived in the country and on a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay, earned more than 1000 miles in competitive trail and endurance racing, and taught Political Science to unwilling freshmen. When she’s not tending to her garden or the horses, the cats, or three pervert parakeets, she can be found day-dreaming and listening to the voices in her head.
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