Widower Wade is desperate to find someone to help him care for his two motherless children while he runs his hardscrabble ranch. After seeing a “match” column in a pulp magazine, he sends off a letter, unsure of what he will get. When it turns up quiet, gentle Darnell, he is both shocked and intrigued. Can this unorthodox arrangement possibly work?
Darnell is at the end of his rope when he finds an ad in a magazine that appears as if it were put there just for him. He takes a desperate chance and ends up on a remote ranch in New Mexico. The motherless children very loveable, and their father is scarily attractive.
But in the stiff and conservative environment of 1949, how can he dare reach for intimacy with his new employer? Will he end up back in dire straits or settled in the home he deeply craves?
Wade saw Darnell hesitate, read the instant of doubt in his expression. He might have had a few brief thoughts of uncertainty himself, but the other man's pause made it a challenge. No way could he back out now. He put every bit of charm he could summon into a smile. Come on, you know you want to. He didn't say that aloud, but he tried to radiate the thought, to send it directly to Darnell's mind.
It seemed to work. Darnell edged to the side of the blanket and folded himself down with coltishly awkward movements. He looked at Wade in a shy, sidelong glance. It seemed a very feminine sort of action.
Wade had no idea how to go about seducing another man, but he had managed to charm a girl or two before Winifred had come along and taken charge of him and their lives. She had been very direct and straightforward, almost too matter-of-fact about it all. Looking back, he had decided she simply wanted to be married and have a family, and she would accept whatever had to be done to achieve that goal.
No romance, no seduction, and a very mechanical sort of union when they were in bed -- with the lights off and her nightgown shoved up out of the way. He was reminded of a scene in a novel of his mother's that he'd once read. In the tale, a mother had instructed her daughter to survive the wedding night by closing her eyes and thinking of the queen, presumably Victoria. Maybe Winifred thought of Bess Truman. Who could say? If his wife had gained any pleasure from their encounters, she had given no sign. It seemed most women were like that. Even Lavina was much the same, although she was but a thin notch above the professional harlots.
A vague hope skittered across his mind that this might prove to be different. He rolled toward Darnell as the other man leaned back, stretched his legs out, and went still. He reached across and rested his hand on Darnell's midsection, just above his belt buckle. Darnell drew in a fast, shuddering breath. Then, so quickly Wade had no time to react, the other man rolled to face him and reached out.
Within a breath, they had arms and legs entwined and their faces together, mouth to mouth in a savage wet kiss that went on and on until they had to break it to breathe. Wade could not tell if the pounding heart shaking his body was his own or a combination of it and Darnell's. He did know that he was hard and hot as a ready branding iron, more aroused and needy than he had ever been in his life.