5 KISSES: "Give me a book written by Susan Laine and I am one happy reader! One the the things I love about Ms. Laine’s books is the way her characters really seem to connect on both an emotional and physical level. There is a true bond that forms between them, and it’s because of this that keeps this reader reading her stories from start to finish in one setting. What I really loved about this book was how well rounded and fast-paced the storyline is. Not only does it have a very strong romance between the two men, there is plenty of character growth, adventure and nail-biting action that kept this reader on the edge of her seat. The two heroes were easy to love and so much fun to get to know. I loved their chemistry and the way they came together as a team to defeat the bad guys, so they can have a happy future together. Stars and Stripes: A Bedtime Story is the 6th book in the Cowboys of Snow Lake series. Although it’s always best to read a series in book order, Stars and Stripes: A Bedtime Story can definitely be read as a stand-alone in the series." -- Gabbi, Top 2 Bottom Reviews
Ned awoke with a start when a firm hand pressed over his mouth, silencing him before he could even utter a sound. Panic settling in, he started to struggle.
“Shh, Ned, be still,” a whisper reached his ear. Redding. But why— “There’s someone out there, behind the trees.”
A different kind of fear made Ned look out into the darkness where only blurry shapes of trees could be discerned. If there was movement, he couldn’t tell. But the way Redding peered above him into the cool, windy blackness was enough to convince him.
“I’m going to cut you loose—” Redding began to mutter, unblocking Ned’s mouth.
“No need,” Ned replied, a bit sheepishly. He had already loosened the bonds before falling asleep, with the intention of catching some shut-eye, and then vanishing into the night, his captor none the wiser.
Redding’s surprise was palpable but short-lived. With a curt nod, he indicated Ned should make use of his liberated state. Ned saw the campfire was all but gone, with only a couple of glowing embers still giving off minor waves of heat but not light. In essence, all they could rely on was their natural sight, which wasn’t all that great in the dark.
“Here, take this.” Redding shoved a gun in Ned’s hand, the metal cold and heavy in his hand. “It’s loaded.” He pointed his own gun at the copse of trees. “I’m gonna head that way. You go the other way. Stay low and don’t get killed.” Then his narrowing gaze landed on Ned. “And don’t try to run, kid. I’ll only catch you later, and then I won’t be so congenial.”
Ned didn’t even get off a nod before Redding had disappeared into the shadows that surrounded them. Swallowing down his anxiety, Ned crawled further away from the fire, seeking the deeper night so he could see what was out there. Surely if it had been a mere nocturnal animal or a night bird, Redding would not have been so spooked.
Though Redding’s kid remark still burned in his gut, Ned pushed the thought aside. For all he knew, tonight they both would draw their last breaths.
A twig snapped to Ned’s left, not far off from where he lay flat on his belly against the cold grass, partly wet with recent frost. Holding his breath, his frantic gaze sought any movement, but found none. But Redding had been right.
Someone is out there, hunting us. Hunting me.
A rustling of leaves was soft ahead of him. Whoever had been on his left was now in front of him, skulking in the shadows, a human predator. Ned breathed shallow so he could better hear the sounds around him.
Creeping backward, like a crab, he got under the branches of a fir, all hidden. He could see the area around the campfire clearly now. The embers gleamed like red jewels, creating enough of a circle of light for Ned to see someone sneaking close-by, a mere silhouette of black.
But in the shade’s hand was a gun, so this was no apparition, ghost, or nightmare. This was real, and the danger of death hung above Ned as real as the hangman’s noose. And worst of all, Redding was out there alone. Was he all right? Had he been caught? Was he…dead?
A boot landed next to him, not three feet away. Ned’s blood ran cold as he stared at the heel of the leather shoe on the grass. The owner wasn’t moving, and as Ned raised his gaze slowly, he could see the big man was hunched, ready for anything, his gaze scanning the empty campfire.
Clinging to the grip of the gun with his sweaty hands, Ned made his choice.
Swinging fast, he kicked the man’s feet from under him, and he fell to the ground with a heavy thud, a low hiss audible.
His gun fired, and a shot rang loud in the night.
Ned didn’t wait for anyone to come running. Jumping closer to the man cussing on the ground, Ned hit him with the grip of the gun, straight over his forehead. The man made a low grunt, and then he was out for the count. Ned took the man’s gun, snuck it under the tree, and crawled off as fast as he could, groveling under another tree’s branches, the thick needles pricking his skin even through his clothes.
“Johnson?” A sharp gasp came from the dark as another man rushed toward the still-ringing gunshot, and once he found his companion lying on the grass, totally out of it, he stilled, too, ready for anything. Ned saw his cragged face, stubbly and scarred, a down-to-earth kind of man, clad in dirty denim. He was looking around furiously, obviously searching for whoever had brought his friend down.
Running steps informed Ned a third man approached fast. This new one could have been the brother of these other two, born of the same rough stock. “What the hell happened to him, Joe? Did you find the kid?”
“No,” the other man, Joe, spat out vehemently, and his face gleamed sweaty under the moonlight. “I heard the shot and came right here. Johnson was already down.”
“Is he dead?”
“Don’t know. Don’t care. I’ve seen no one. The kid’s not here.”
“Dammit to hell! Frank’s gonna have our hides if—”
“Hands up, gentlemen.” Redding’s calm, cold voice might have made these two men shiver, but Ned had never been so happy to hear anyone’s voice than he was now. The good sheriff knew how to make an entrance. “No sudden moves, or I’ll shoot you full of holes. Now toss them guns away and put those paws up. I ain’t a patient kind of man.”
From where he was concealed, Ned could see both bad guys only tightened their grips on their guns. They had no intention of surrendering.
For a long while they engaged in kissing only, with the sole exception of their rocking hips that found a salacious rhythm. Their cocks rubbed against each other, and Lincoln was certain his balls or his cock would blow any minute. The last time he’d been with a man, it hadn’t been in bed, not intimate like this. It had been mostly clothed, a rushed, unsatisfying experience behind the stables.
With Ned, everything was different.
At long last, Ned shifted his mouth away from Lincoln’s as he panted, “Want you in me.”
Busy licking his way down Ned’s jaw to his kiss and suck at his neck, Lincoln brought his head up fast. He felt nervous, wishing for their lovemaking to matter and to last. And he didn’t want to hurt Ned, not just with the size of his dick, but by taking something from the boy, a first-time experience he might want to share with someone else instead of a sheriff, who was supposed to bring the boy to the gallows.
“Really? You sure? I mean, we can do it like this.” Lincoln rushed to speak, trying his best to convey his sincerity. He was referring to simply rubbing to completion. Considering how badly he wanted Ned, Lincoln was absolutely certain he could come just from this. “We don’t need to do, um, that.”
Ned looked up at him, wide-eyed and more than a bit hurt. “You don’t want to?”
Lincoln tried another tactic. “If you’d feel more comfortable, we could do it the other way around. With you, uh, taking me. If you want.” He’d never given any man his ass, not even at times when he’d felt he might want to. A part of him had always restrained him from taking that particular leap of faith.
Ned shook his head. “No. You inside me. I want it.” He frowned, dubious. “I think I can guess why you’re hesitating. Look, after everything that’s happened to me lately, I don’t wanna wait. I could die tomorrow. And you’re a real man. You like me, I think. You saved my life.” Then he shook his head again, this time in obvious frustration. “I’m saying it all wrong. It’s not gratitude, you know. It’s…need and want and…a thousand other things.”
“I get it,” Lincoln said, cutting in the first chance he got and smiling encouragingly. “Okay, let’s do it. With me…in you.”
The happy smile on Ned’s face was answer enough. Lincoln took the vial of petroleum jelly, the gooey substance translucent and pale yellowish, and dropped a few globs on his fingers.
“I’m gonna put some of this stuff in your ass, okay?” Lincoln said to Ned. “It should make things, um, smoother.”
Ned nodded his compliance, watching Lincoln’s actions carefully. Lincoln circled the twitching hole, slowly applying pressure as his movements became more deliberate and precise. Ned closed his eyes and he hissed. His hips shimmied, so Lincoln pushed steadily until the muscle’s ring yielded, and his finger popped inside.
“Oh God,” Ned cried out, his tone cracking.
“Tell me if you want me to stop,” Lincoln urged in concern, but Ned did nothing but moan, so Lincoln added another finger. The jelly remained warm, offering no smells of any kind. Ned’s body moved in sync with Lincoln’s fingers.
As Lincoln twisted his fingers inside the channel, to coat it with the jelly, suddenly Ned’s hips shot up and he let out a high-pitched cry. “Oh my God, oh my God,” he kept repeating, his jaw slack with pleasure, his eyes wide open, staring at Lincoln in awe. “I don’t know what you did but, for the love of God, do it again.”
Lincoln had no idea what he’d done, so he twirled his fingers again and again. There was a tiny swollen knob and he pressed it. He must have succeeded in finding the right spot because Ned kept thrashing about, his hips bucking and his cock leaking pre-cum like crazy.
Not knowing why exactly, Lincoln just had to taste, so he dipped down and took Ned’s cockhead into his mouth. Ned’s groans grew louder as the briny yet sweet taste of man exploded on Lincoln’s tongue. He had done this a few times, but it had been fast so he and who he had been with could come quickly, no fuss, no muss. With Ned in his bed, he could take all the time in the world, so he devoted himself to learning every thrumming truth of Ned’s dick, every inch of the satiny smooth, smoldering hot, rock-hard, bittersweet candy in his mouth.
The inner walls of Ned’s ass around Lincoln’s intrusive touch gave way, softening and loosening up, and Lincoln was able to add a third finger. Not having done it before, penetrating a man or letting a man do that to him, he had only wished to ease any discomfort Ned might feel due to Lincoln’s big dick.
Now he was sure Ned could take him, if Lincoln proceeded nice and slow.
Letting go of Ned’s ass and plopping Ned’s cock out of his mouth, Lincoln gripped Ned’s hips and brought the man’s lower body over his thighs. He coated his dick with the jelly, then aimed his own cockhead at the winking hole, and slowly began to push in.
Ned whimpered. “Oh God, yes.”
Lincoln was sure he’d gone spectacularly insane or he was having the best sex dream of his life because surely this much pleasure could not be real.
And yet, when he opened his eyes—unaware of when he had closed them—he could clearly see a beautiful young man beneath him, willing and waiting. Ned’s fingernails dug into the skin of Lincoln’s arms as he held on for dear life. Lincoln loved the wanton abandon the boy was showing.
Then Lincoln’s dick popped in. They both moaned at the same moment. Slowly he made his way inside, the channel around him constricting and releasing, over and over, until finally Lincoln’s cock was fully seated inside Ned’s body.
“Holy shit,” Lincoln muttered, unable to find the words to describe how heavenly it felt to be buried within loving flesh. He couldn’t get a handle on his emotions as they raged inside him like a stormy sea. All he basically knew was that he wanted this moment to never end.