Plans. Everyone has them. Rush Dalton and Tad Jackson plan to live happily ever after. January Stephens plans to ease the hurt of a declined marriage proposal with alcohol. Josh Cooper's plan is to conceal his feelings for Mopp. And Mopp? He simply plans to hold tight to Josh's friendship.
Meanwhile, Eric Jameson arrives from DC with plans of his own. He intends to elicit information from Jan in an effort to find Babe, the woman who’s taken refuge with her son at the big house called the ranch. Babe plans to stay away from anyone who might try to take her little boy away from her and return him to the mysterious Dr. Pandora Gautier.
Deuce Pettigrew’s only plan is to keep the man he treasures safe and in one piece. But the thing about plans is -- sometimes they just don’t work out the way you expect them to.
Josh finished eating and tossed his garbage in the trash. He wished he could go in the pool, but he wouldn't. There was no way he'd reveal the scars on his back and sides, courtesy of the bastard he'd thought he deserved because the one man he loved didn't love him back.
He was doing better, though, no longer mooning over Tom like a lovesick fool. On the rare occasions he went clubbing, he made sure to hook up with someone who didn't want anything more than what he was willing to give.
As he drained the last of his beer and then let the empty bottle dangle from his fingers, he unobtrusively eyed the pool. He'd been trying not to drool over all the pretty boys, when the prettiest one of all climbed out of the pool, dripping wet. He whipped a mop of unruly curls out of his face, and Josh moaned, "Momma, buy me that!"
"Billy Bob's straight, buddy," Tom told him as he handed Josh another beer and then took a sip of his Coke.
"Billy Bob? You mean Mopp?" He remembered meeting him a few weeks ago. Josh was mowing the lawn as a favor to Tom, when Mopp had shown up to move into the bunkhouse. Josh hadn't had his shirt on, and he'd been so stressed about the possibility of anyone seeing his scars that he'd barely paid any attention to the young man. Now he wondered how he could have missed those good looks. "Well," he shrugged and grinned. "Can't blame a guy for looking." He hoped Tom would let it go.
"No, but I don't want to see either of you hurt."
"You honestly think I'd do something to hurt him?"
"No. He's a good kid, but he's got no idea which end is up. You'll keep what I'm about to tell you between us?"
Josh paused in the act of tipping the bottle of beer to his lips, surprised by how serious Tom was. "Of course."
"Okay, then. I'm pretty sure Billy Bob is a virgin." He looked at Josh as if he was afraid he'd just rung the dinner bell.
And truthfully, Josh's cock got so hard at those words he'd have liked nothing better than to take that boy to bed and show him which end was up. However, Mopp was at least twenty years younger, Josh didn't toy with innocents, and it hurt that Tom felt he had to warn him away. "Thanks, Tom. I'll make sure I keep my distance."
"I didn't mean it like that, Josh."
"How did you mean it?" He'd loved Tom Weber at one time as much more than a friend, but he'd reluctantly come to realize Tom only saw him as a friend. To think Tom thought of him as a perv ...
"Like I said, I don't want to see either of you hurt."
"Why don't you let me worry about it?"
Tom sighed, but before he could say anything else, Jackson sauntered up. "See anything you like, Cooper?" He slung a casual arm around Tom's shoulders, staking his claim.
"Go fuck yourself."
One of the reasons Josh didn't like Jackson had to do with his bisexuality. Before Jackson and Tom had gotten together -- and Josh had no intention of asking how that came about -- Jackson had been married three times and God alone knew how many women on the side he'd had.
Why couldn't Tom have loved him instead of Jackson? That would have made everything so damned simple.
And then January Stephens sashayed over to Mopp and curled her fingers around his biceps. Well, that'll be all she wrote, Josh thought. Even if Mopp was bisexual, he wouldn't be able to see past the glamour of the company accountant, who also happened to be Miss Becca's friend. It was a real shame. Josh had seen her go through boyfriends like they were Kleenex.
He tossed his half-empty bottle into the trash can they were using for recycling, turned on his heel, and stalked out.