Harry Reynolds spends his days working the family ranch dreaming of the chance to break out on his own and live up to his father Dutch's celebrated rodeo cowboy status. When his chance comes, Harry leaves everything he knows, risking the wrath of his father to find his own success. Dreams don't come easy, but supported by the love of his best friend Reb, Harry sets out to find glory and gets a few surprises along the way. Coming of age amid sultry cowboys, huge egos, and wild horses isn't going to be easy, but Harry Reynolds is Dutch's boy.
CONTENT ADVISORY: This is a significantly expanded and re-edited title.
"You know Daddy ain't gonna like you leavin'," Harry's little sister said as she tossed his socks into the huge army-green duffel bag at the end of his bed.
"Well, Daddy ain't here and I gotta get to the rodeo if I'm gonna get to ridin' those broncs. I can't be sittin' around waiting for the rain to fall. Sometimes you gotta make it rain, baby girl." Harry began stomping around the floor, imitating a rain dance, making a ruckus with his new boots. His sister started laughing. From down below, they could hear their ma yelling for them to knock it off.
"Still, he ain't gonna like it," she repeated.
Harry tossed his old truckers hat at the young girl, just missing her as she managed to get one more pair of socks into his bag before running from his room.
"Damn right he ain't gonna like it," he mumbled to himself. "Shoot... He's gonna hate it."
Twenty-year-old Harry Reynolds wished he were like his friends who had started riding broncs while they had all been in middle school. That wasn't to say Harry didn't know his way around horses. He could train, shoe, rope, and hell, he even knew about breeding them, but his daddy wasn't having it.
His father was Dutch Reynolds, one of the best-known and most well-loved saddle bronc riders in the state and Dutch made it a point to have all his kids familiar with the livestock that roamed on his massive ranch. Dutch, however, had made it clear that Harry was to finish school before he started working the rodeo circuit. He'd told both Harry and his sister Joanna that they were not gonna be like him--no sir, no high school diploma to speak of, forced to work and drop out to help his poor Ma who'd never had two nickels to rub together on account of his no-good father. Dutch Reynolds was making sure his kids got an education and if, after they graduated, they wanted the rodeo life for themselves then he wouldn't stop them.
Dutch, who was in and out of their lives like summer rainstorms, would say that Hell would have him before he would encourage either child to follow his lead. He came home just long enough to unpack and pack again but not before uttering the same old warning in the direction of his impatient son. "You ain't ready yet, and that's my final word. Don't be getting at your ma about leavin' for the rodeo, either, or I'll tan your hide when I get back." Dutch was nothing if he wasn't strict, and that had left Harry with no room to rebel. Harry would rather face a desert of prickly pears barefoot rather than piss off his father. That wasn't to say that Harry didn't often think horrible things about him. He would even go so far as to yell them out in the fields, but when Dutch confronted him, he would fall back into line and begin to wonder if he'd ever be able to break free from the cage of respect and obligation that his father had so carefully wrought.
"He ain't gonna like it," Harry said again into the back of the old curtains that just barely moved in the already-hot morning air. "And I've waited long enough--too damn long. Christ, I'm already twenty; I can't live under his rules forever." Harry was tired of kicking rocks on his father's ranch and going nowhere with his life. He'd tried community college, to please Dutch, but it hadn't been for him. His classes had left him unfulfilled and frustrated.
At first he had let Dutch's threats knock him down. He had moped about, not doing anything in particular but always feeling that yearning for something else, something more. It had not been unusual to find him standing and just staring out at the fields beyond their ranch. Harry had known there was more out there. His gut had told him there was a lot more to do and see. Every day that instinct had only grown stronger.
His ma had finally needed to straighten him out. Harry remembered what she'd said one day after a couple of his friends had come around just before they were to leave for the rodeo.
"You got a lot of time, Harry, and you're just sittin' around here like a bump on a bean. Why don't you use the time you've been given and make some money? It ain't cheap getting on the circuit, and I can only help you so much. You know your daddy ain't gonna help. He just can't see past his own self sometimes." She'd turned away and he had been able to tell she was thinking of the past. She'd forced a smile when she caught him watching her. "I bet you can make and save some money working down at that fancy resort in town. They got horses; I'm sure they could use someone to take the city folk on trail rides, teach them a thing or two about their mounts. They'd be lucky to have you, they being the horses." Ma had paused, and seeing Harry smile, she'd added, "You being you, how could they not? You're just so damn likeable, Harry Reynolds. I sure like you an awful lot." She'd patted him on his leg and waved as he and his friends had disappeared in a cloud of red dust.
She had been right. Ma was always right. Harry had stopped moping around and taken to working harder than he ever had. There had been plenty of horses at that resort, and just like his ma had said, they had been more than happy to bring Harry on part-time. He hadn't wasted a minute. When he wasn't at the resort, he rode, wrangled, and cared for the ranch livestock right beside his father's foreman. Between his work at the resort and his busy life on the ranch, Harry had found that time passed and his pockets were filled. Harry was soon able to save enough for his train ride to the rodeo and even a little more. He counted that money every week, and with each dollar, he could feel the cage that had so long surrounded him begin to fall apart.
There had also been his friend Reb to think about--a guy from school who Harry had taken a liking to a while back. Reb had come around and watched Harry ride the broncs and show off with the horses. Harry had grown so used to him being there that when he wasn't, things didn't sit right and he felt out of sorts. He liked being rooted for, cheered on, and it had been Reb who'd given him the idea of finally hitting the rodeo circuit to follow his passions. Harry could dream, but Reb could always dream bigger. Harry knew it wouldn't be that great at the start. Hell, he didn't even know if he would qualify for anything. When he would tell Reb this, Reb would just laugh and shake his head. "You got too much talent for that kinda worryin'. Don't they know who your daddy is?" Then they would both laugh.
"Reb ain't gonna like it either," Harry told himself, sighing. Whenever he thought about Reb, so did his dick, so he tried not to think about him when he was around others. He'd have a hell of a time explaining the bulge in his jeans. He pressed against the window frame and stifled a groan as he felt his stiffening cock press through his jeans against the wood frame. He closed his eyes and tried to erase Reb from his mind, attempting to ease the pounding of his heart and the heat in his gut. "Damn, Reb," he groaned, defiantly pressing his pelvis harder against the windowsill.
When he opened his eyes and saw Reb's big, old red truck coming to a stop just below in the driveway, he thought he might be dreaming. He waited, his eyes wide. Sweat that had been running down his face stung his eyes mercilessly. It wasn't until he heard Ma call out that Reb was there that he knew it wasn't a dream. He took a few deep breaths to steady his nerves and forced himself to walk to the bathroom where he splashed cold water on his face. When he looked up from the basin with water dripping off him, he found Reb standing in the doorway looking at him with deep brown eyes.
Harry's bathroom was just above a patch of sweet lilac that grew wild around the ranch. Reb smelled of it and something else--straw or hay.
For a minute, neither man said anything. Reb was smiling, a knowing twinkle in his eye. Harry grabbed at a towel and pressed his face into it, grateful for the reprieve. He could still feel the weight of his hard-on and could only hope that Reb didn't notice.
"Reb, honey, you want something cold to drink?" Ma called from the bottom of the stairs. "Is my good-for-nothing son up there? Not offering a guest anything to drink... You'd think he was raised outside and not in. Harry, you up there? I'm putting out some tea for you boys when you come down."
Reb's smile widened.
"What the hell you starin' at?" Harry asked as he threw the towel at Reb and pushed past him and back into his room. Reb didn't follow at first, only stood, and stared after Harry.
"I guess I was just wonderin' when you were gonna tell me you were fixin' on leaving is all," Reb said from where he stood. "Does Dutch know?"
Harry glanced at him from the corner of his eye then walked back over to resume stuffing more items into the already-bulging duffel.
"Dutch don't even know how old I am, never mind what I'm doing." Harry replied. "He wants me here to do what he oughta be doin,' looking after his family. Hell, he ain't even here now. What a surprise!"
"Yeah, but you're going anyway, with or without Dutch's say-so." Reb finally moved from the doorframe into Harry's room and perched on the edge of an old, comfy chair Ma had moved into his room ages ago.
"So what?" Harry said. He couldn't figure out why he was angry with Reb, but he definitely was.
"So nothin'. I'm glad you're leavin'. Get you gone, boy. Get you gone!" Reb was almost laughing. "It's time you spread your wings."
Harry wanted to punch him, but instead he stopped packing, sat on the end of the bed, and stared at his feet. He began tapping his boots nervously. He could feel the burn that had been in his belly move to the corners of his eyes. "Aww, hell," he grumbled.
"You don't think I like the idea, do ya? Not one bit," Reb said, standing.
Harry listened to the sound Reb's boots made on the floor.
"You're gonna make a fucking great ol' bronc rider. Don't they know who your daddy is?" They both laughed at the familiar joke. Reb crouched down, put a hand on Harry's shoulder, and said quietly, "You go, boy. You go and I'll come one day to see ya. You won't be back. We both know it."
Harry finally looked up and noticed that Reb's eyes were shining; he could feel the heat coming from Reb's hand. "I'll come back," Harry said his voice strangled. "I will--"
Reb put his other hand up to stop him. "Don't say it, because I don't want you to. I want you to prove your daddy wrong in every way, and that means you don't come back till you're a huge hit. You hear?"
Harry nodded and took Reb's hand from his shoulder and held it until both men realized what was happening and pulled away. "Let's go get some tea," Reb said, standing and straightening himself out. "It's hotter than hell up here."
Harry wondered if it was the same burn he felt inside that was making Reb hot.