Barn No. 43, Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, Wellington, Florida, Monday early morning, December 14, 2015
The early morning mist was still hovering over the practice paddocks and jump arena, and Jessop Stoneman was cold even though he wore jeans and a heavy sweatshirt. What the fuck? Jess pulled his black Porsche 911 into his reserved parking space in the parking lot near his corner block of eight stalls in Barn No. 43. He’d brought four horses down from his farm in Ocala, Florida for the annual international winter horse show—two open jumpers ready to compete and two jumpers in training.
King’s Man was the veteran, thirteen-year-old, dark bay Dutch Warmblood stallion he hoped to be riding in the jumping competition in the Summer Olympics in Rio next year. If King didn’t hold up to the rigorous pre-Olympics schedule, he had Thor’s Hammer waiting for his chance at the gold. The younger, more volatile, big gray Thoroughbred stallion could absolutely fly over the scary six six-foot and had better jumps, but he loved to sail over the triple combinations the best. The problem was Thor had a tendency to get distracted—a butterfly, a spectator’s hat blowing off in the breeze, or nothing but his imagination—could put him off his stride. Gordon had often said, “If he had a feather he could fly.” Maybe that was fly away.
The Winter Equestrian Festival, or as it was more commonly known in the horse world, WEF, was a glittering, three-month-long, international horse show that drew participants from all over the world, and it had started yesterday. Its high-dollar prizes, prestige, and the fact it was a pre-Olympic venue added gloss to the extravaganza. The show grounds were a bustling enclave within the wealthy Village of Wellington and were currently buzzing with excitement.
What were the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s cruisers and yellow crime scene tape doing closing off access to Barn No. 42 just across from his stalls? Jess and King’s Man had a practice session with a new trainer this morning, and he didn’t want to be late. This guy was not on his payroll as Gordon Smith had been, and he charged by the hour. Or was that by the minute? Not to mention the fact that practice time was a valuable and limited commodity.
Jess unfolded his long, lanky, but well-muscled frame from the Porsche and strode over to the yellow crime scene tape. He stood beside one of the grooms he recognized from the shedrow. “So what’s going on?”
“Not sure, man, but I think something has happened to one of Darcy MacAllister’s horses.”
“Why is the Sheriff’s Department here and not a vet?”
“Don’t know. I’m waiting to find out something more.”
* * * *
Jess and King walked at a leisurely pace back to Barn No. 43 after a grueling workout with Dave Moorehill. The guy was a pain in the ass, but Jess could see that both he and King would benefit greatly from working with him. In just an hour session, he’d helped fine tune their timing over the jumps in the practice field. A jumper could never have too much precision, too much polish.
There was still a lot of activity around Barn No. 42. Now the cruisers had been joined by a crime scene unit. The groom he’d spoken with that morning rushed over when he saw Jess dismounting in front of his stalls. “Hey, man, you’ll never guess what happened.”
“Well, you are right. I’ll never guess. Fill me in.”
“Oh, sorry. It turns out one of Darcy MacAllister’s horses was kidnapped. Horsenapped. Whatever. One of her top horses, Verdad, is gone. They’re looking for clues and stuff. Wow. Nothing this exciting ever happens on the backside.”
* * * *
Quinn O’Laughlin pulled his shiny, new, white veterinary truck up in front of Barn No. 42 and parked. He bundled his long, red hair into an elastic band and pulled the tail through the back of his baseball cap. Darcy MacAllister had called him in to check over her agitated horses and give them sedatives if necessary. Quinn thought they would calm down as soon as all the outsiders with all their strange smelling equipment cleared out of their domain. Horses were herd animals and sensitive to any disruption in their routines, and they would also be upset by the disappearance of one of their stall mates.
Darcy came running out to the truck as he climbed out into a mud puddle, soiling his clean-for-the-moment boots. Damn. Why can’t bloody people just use the bloody wash racks? He hated the muddy mess they made when they hosed down the horses in front of the barns. The tall, curvy, slightly muscular, but very attractive woman with her blonde hair bound into a messy bun on the back of her head stood in front of him. “Good morning, Ms. Darcy. I’m terribly sorry about your trouble. Is there any news about Verdad?”
Quinn tried to tone down his broad Dublin accent when speaking with clients. He wanted to fit into this new country, not stand out like a sore thumb. His sexual preferences were apparent to anyone who opened their eyes to look, but it was surprising how many people in this country didn’t. They just accepted him at face value. Maybe, finally, sexual preference wasn’t that important to them in their dealings with others. That would surely be a welcome change. The Irish were generally not that evolved. If people didn’t pick up on the fact that he was gay, they surely didn’t pick up on his extra-sensory talents and his ability to transmit healing energy. He was able to read people and animal auras, and sometimes know their thoughts. It wasn’t always a comfortable knack. He could plainly feel Darcy’s distress now.
Jess sat down next to Quinn. He put his arm around his shoulders and settled him into his chest. They sipped the Sambuca and just listened to the jazz piano for a few minutes. Jess turned Quinn into his arms and kissed him softly at first, but the kiss gradually became intense and dark.
Jess tangled his fingers in Quinn’s long, dark auburn red hair and cupped the back of his head. They stretched out on the sofa, and Jess rolled over on top of his chest and took his mouth again. The kiss escalated into a Viking marauder attack. Jess rolled them off the sofa and onto the rug until he was sprawled over Quinn and had him trapped beneath him. Quinn’s light blue eyes were closed, and he eagerly responded to the onslaught of Jess’s mouth. “Quinn, if you’re going to change your mind about this, tell me now. In another minute I won’t be able to stop. I have wanted to fuck you up one side and down the other for a while now.”
“I wasn’t planning to say no.”
Jess unbuttoned Quinn’s shirt and ran his hands over his smooth chest. He unzipped Quinn’s jeans and had his boots off and tossed aside before he stripped out of his own clothes. He quickly threw a hand towel over one of the floor pillows before he turned Quinn over and positioned the smaller man ass-up just where he wanted him. Quinn’s white skin, sprinkled with a few cinnamon freckles, glowed in the flickering light of the fire. Jess’s big hands coasted his hands down over Quinn’s smoothly muscled back and ass as he massaged the tight muscles. God, I’d love to spank this beautiful ass. Jess was trying not to rush and ruin the moment. He wanted to enjoy this first time as much as he wanted Quinn to enjoy it.
He spread Quinn’s ass cheeks and squirted some of the cold, cherry lube onto his back entrance. He began to work the muscle surrounding the rim, and as Quinn relaxed, he sank his middle finger in deep. Quinn groaned and raised his ass in invitation. Jess would have liked to draw out the preliminaries, but he wasn’t going to be able to hold back. He couldn’t wait to fuck this beautiful man.
Jess quickly donned a condom before he squirted some of the lube over the cock that had been aching since Quinn had come in. He worked his hard prick into Quinn’s ass little by little. Quinn tensed under him, and Jess gave him a minute to adjust to the invasion. He felt Quinn’s perfect ass butting up against his belly as Quinn let him know he wanted more.
Jess began to stroke in and out, letting his cock and balls slap against Quinn’s ass before he pulled out and then entered again. Quinn’s tight ass was heaven. Then Jess picked up a faster rhythm. Quinn groaned and his body rose to accept every thrust. Jess reached under Quinn’s belly and grabbed his dick. He worked his hand up and down Quinn’s cock as he continued his thrusting. Quinn spurted cum like a fountain, and Jess followed him, coming harder than he had in a long time. He collapsed over Quinn’s back, breathing hard as his heart pumped in rhythm with his still pulsing cock.
When both their hearts had settled down, Jess got up and lifted Quinn into his arms and walked back to the master bedroom suite. He pulled back the black silk quilt before he put Quinn down on the huge bed. “We have some stuff to talk about, Quinn, but that can wait. Right now I just want to hold you.”
* * * *
Quinn couldn’t believe it. He had enjoyed plenty of sex, especially in his years at university, but he had never come so hard in his life. He felt small and protected in Jess’s arms, and he reveled in the feeling. Nonetheless, he knew he had to get a handle on the situation. He knew he shouldn’t over-romanticize this encounter. He had no idea what was on Jess’s mind and what he actually wanted in a relationship. If he wanted a relationship…