Sam rushed to get his clothes on, cursing that he was running late. Once again the electricity was off and there was no power in the house. Thank goodness he had a watch.
Flicking his wrist, Sam squinted to see the time. Too bad it lacked the power to wake him up. It was a simple analog watch, nothing special, no alarms or illuminating features. He’d bought it at Walmart a few months back on a whim and was glad he had. It was the only thing in the house that let him know just how late he was running.
“Fuck!” Sam’s eyes watered when he stubbed his toe on the side of the dresser. The pain shot up his leg and then turned into a low throb as he grabbed his socks from the top of his dresser, praying they weren’t dirty. He was going at this blind. Grabbing his boots from where he remembered leaving them at the door, Sam shoved his feet into them and then grabbed his shirt from the bed.
Carefully navigating the dark stairs, he walked into the kitchen to see his father fiddling with the electric box on the wall. “There isn’t a problem with the wiring, Dad. The bill wasn’t paid again.”
His father looked apologetic when he turned his head, and Sam regretted snapping at the guy. His dad was disabled, his back giving him hell. He walked with a cane and that was on a good day. There were times the man couldn’t even get out of bed. “I’m sorry, I’m just running late. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”
“I’ll call the electric company today and see if I can’t get them to give me some kind of payment plan.”
Things were tough around Sam’s house, but he loved his dad with all his heart. The disability checks that came in the mail once a month just didn’t cover all their expenses, but most of the time they got by. Sam worked as a ranch hand to pick up a lot of the slack, but the bills were exceeding the money.
Times were hard and getting even harder. “I’ll see if I can get paid early.”
Sam hurried out the door, shoving the slice of bread in his mouth that he’d snagged from the loaf sitting on the counter. He prayed his truck started this morning. He’d been having a lot of problems with it, but he wasn’t a mechanic and he couldn’t afford to take it to one.
Thank fuck. The damn thing started. He could hear a loud ticking, like someone had put a bomb under the hood, and hoped like hell the damn hunk of junk got him to work. He shoved the gearshift with a hard jam into drive. That was the only way to get it going.
The truck backfired as he pulled from the drive and out onto the main road. The empty oil containers jostled around on the floor as Sam made the turn. His truck ate through so much oil that Sam needed to start buying the stuff by the case.
Sam rolled the window down when he started to smell a strange odor creeping into the interior of the truck. He knew this piece of shit was on its last wheel, but he couldn’t even afford a used vehicle right now.
His dad’s medical bills were taking every extra cent Sam made. The medication alone cost him two hundred dollars a month. Not only was his father’s back out, but he was starting to get Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t bad. Yet. But there were days when he just stood in the kitchen, forgetting what he’d gone in there for, or called Sam by his deceased brother’s name.
I hate when he does that.
Sam breathed a sigh of relief when he pulled into the Wylde Cattle and Guest Ranch, thankful his truck hadn’t given out on him. He jumped from the cab, seeing that the Wylde brothers weren’t sitting on the front porch having their morning cup of coffee.
That meant he was really late.
As he headed toward the barn, Sam saw a stranger leaning into his truck. Damn the man was huge! His size reminded Sam of Carson, the second-youngest Wylde brother.
Curious, Sam took a step toward the truck. “Who are you?”
The stranger pulled from the truck and shut the door. Even though the sun hadn’t risen yet, Sam could see the guy had silver eyes. They were the strangest color he’d ever seen and gorgeous, in his opinion.
He smiled. “I’m Sam. You must be one of the new hires.”
“You a Wylde brother?” Ben asked as he leaned against his truck.
Truth was, Sam had been smitten with Carson since he’d started working here a few years back. Unfortunately, the man wouldn’t give him the time of day. “I wish.” Yeah, he hadn’t meant to say that out loud.
Looking over his shoulder, Sam saw Carson talking with a stranger by the corrals and tried to use his mind to will the guy to look his way.
Nope, didn’t work. “I’m just a hired hand.” He turned back toward Ben. “Well, I better get to work. Have a nice day, Ben.”
Sam shoved his hands into his front pockets, trying not to look Carson’s way again as he met up with Jess.
He spotted Jess getting Ginger ready. The bay horse looked happy that she was getting out of the stall, her tail high in the air. “Mornin’.”
“Morning, Sam. You ready to tackle the fence today?”
“Yep.” Sam leaned against the stall, gazing at Jess and trying to work the nerve up to ask for his paycheck early. He never told the Wylde brothers his business, because it was his own burden to bear, but he didn’t want his father to sit in the dark.
“You’ll have to take the truck. I’m going by horseback this morning. You also have a new hand riding with you. His name is Ben Cross.”
Carson met Aunt Meg in the hallway right after she’d come out of his bedroom. “How is he?”
She patted his arm, nodding. “He’s fine. Soaking wet, still scared to death, and has a bruise on his left shoulder, but he’ll live.”
Carson had never been more terrified in his life. When he rode up and saw that bear charging Sam, everything in him froze. Thank fuck his instincts had kicked in. He’d raised his rifle, aimed, and shot the mangy beast right in the head. But it hadn’t dropped right away. It had kept on charging. Carson had aimed again, ready to shoot when the bear collapsed not twenty feet away from Sam’s curled form. When he’d dismounted, Carson hadn’t been sure whether to kiss the man or kick his ass for scaring the crap out of him.
Aunt Meg walked away, leaving Carson standing there in the hallway. He took a deep breath and opened the door, spotting Sam by the bed, buttoning his jeans. He was shirtless and Carson found it hard to breathe.
“I’m fine,” Sam griped, his head tilted forward, the black hair just long enough to cover the side of his face. “Aunt Meg gave me the green light and lectured me about safety.”
Carson just stood there like an idiot, his eyes roaming over Sam’s physique. In all the years he’d known the man, he’d only seen Sam shirtless a handful of times. But none ever felt this intimate. Sam reached for his shirt that was on the bed and winced. Carson saw the ugly bruise like a splat against Sam’s tanned skin. Hurrying across the room, Carson reached for the shirt the same time Sam tried again. They knocked their heads together.
“Oh, fuck!” Sam shouted, grabbing his forehead.
Carson was rubbing his nose. “Sorry about that.” He rocked his nose back and forth, but it didn’t feel bruised or broken.
“You got a hard nose.” Sam chuckled nervously. “Do I have a dent in my forehead?”
“Yeah, but not from my nose, dork.” Carson tried for levity, but soon found Sam staring up at him, his eyes almost begging Carson to come closer.
So he did.
He hooked a hand behind Sam’s neck, reeling him in. “Don’t ever scare me like that again.” His chastisement was gentle.
Sam swallowed hard, nodding, but his dark-green eyes never left Carson’s. “I’ll try not to.”
With his heart thumping a bit faster, Carson covered Sam’s lips with his, his other hand grabbing the man’s denim waistband. It sounded corny in his own mind, but Carson could kiss Sam all day and not tire of the act. He inhaled sharply when Sam boldly slipped his hands under Carson’s shirt, his fingers planted on his pecs. They moved slowly, grazing lower and lower until both of Carson’s nipples were being brushed over by warm fingers.
A frantic hunger swept over Carson and he turned, using one hand to hold Sam’s back as he set the man on the bed and then leaned in. Their tongues clashed as Carson lowered Sam to the comforter, watching raven hair contrast with his cream-colored bedspread. As they kissed, Carson’s hand spanned down Sam’s chest, his fingers smoothing over hard lines, letting him know for certain that Sam was pure male.
His fingers bumped the waistband and Carson used them to unsnap Sam’s pants. Sam’s hips bucked forward, silently begging Carson not to stop, to take this further. He managed to get the zipper down, his large hand wrapped around Sam’s erection and something in him almost sighed with relief that this was happening, that he was allowed to touch Sam the way he’d been craving for a while. It almost seemed natural, the way the two of them fit together, touching, kissing, and needy. Carson pulled his mouth away from Sam’s, feeling the sweat building on his skin like a fine layer of slickness as he dropped to his knees, pulling Sam’s cock toward his mouth.
Sam let go of a whimper that was close to a whine, his chest rising and falling rapidly as he lifted his head and watched, the tips of his ears and face blushing.
Carson wanted this, really wanted it.
At twenty-four years of age, Carson had never sucked a cock, always on the receiving end, but making sure whoever his partner was got off. Sam made him want to do things he never imagined before, and not just with sex. He wanted forever with this man, a home, a life, love, and happiness.
Carson wanted Sam’s corny dream just as much as Sam wanted it. He took the head into his mouth, licking and sucking, drinking the man’s pre-cum as their eyes stayed connected in intimacy.
Sam made a strangled sound as he dropped back down, his hands curling tight into the comforter. He seemed lost in his own world as Carson fisted the man’s cock, taking away inches he knew he wasn’t ready for. Sam might be average height, but his dick was overwhelming in Carson’s mouth. His lips stretched, taking the man just a little further in, his tongue licking at veins and heated skin. The taste was salty, musky in his mouth, the head smooth and spongy. Carson suckled the flared head, watching as Sam writhed beneath him, the noises growing louder.
Breathe through your nose, dork.
Once Carson did this, he was able to take a little more of Sam, creating a suction like he’d seen guys do to him. He knew what Sam was feeling when the man jerked and grunted, his hands leaving the bed to rub over Carson’s head, nails digging into his scalp.
Carson felt his own dick jerking in his jeans, begging to be set free, his balls shifting closer to his body. He made the damn thing wait, concentrating on getting Sam off.