Chassie was so selfless Trevor wasn’t surprised when she offered, “Any friend of Trev’s is a friend of mine. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you want. We have plenty of room.”
Say no, Edgard. For both our sakes say no.
“That’s very generous, Chassie. I’d like that.”
“No problem. You wanna come in and get settled? Have a cup of coffee to warm up?”
“That’d be great.”
Chassie brushed past Trevor and started up the porch steps.
He could handle his former lover under his roof for a couple of days. No sweat, right?
But when Trevor’s eyes caught Edgard’s, the punch of lust whomped him as sharply as a hoof to the belly, making him just as breathless.
Dammit, don’t look at me that way, Ed. Please.
Edgard banked the hunger in those topaz-colored eyes and Trevor silently breathed a sigh of relief.
The blank stare was a reaction they’d both mastered during the years they’d spent together on the road. If sponsors, promoters or fans caught wind of his and Edgard’s nocturnal proclivities they would’ve been blackballed. Or would’ve been beat to shit on a regular basis if the other rodeo cowboys suspected he and Edgard weren’t merely traveling partners. There’d been no choice but to become discreet.
Nothing discreet about the way Edgard had eyeballed him.
“Trev, hon, you comin’?”
“Go on. I’ll be right in after I take care of this motor.” He retreated to the barn, needing to find his balance after being knocked sideways.
Edgard was here. Trevor’s gut clenched remembering the last time he’d seen the man. Remembering the misery on Edgard’s face, knowing his face reflected the same desolation when they’d said goodbye three and a half years ago.
Crippled by pain, fear, and loss, Trevor hadn’t had the balls to wrap Edgard in his arms one last time. He’d snapped off some dumbass comment and done nothing but sit on his ass in the horse trailer like a lump of moldy shit and watched him go.
No. Let him go.
He’d gotten drunk that night. And every night after for damn near six months. He’d fucked every woman who’d crossed his path. Sex and booze did nothing to chase away the sense he’d made a huge mistake. Or on the really bad nights, his all-too smug relief that he’d never really felt “that way” about Edgard and he was glad the too-tempting bastard was gone for good.
Yes, not only had Trevor mastered the outward lie, he was a master at lying to himself.
Watching his friends pair up, marry, and start families only emphasized Trevor’s unhappiness. Every part of his life seemed meaningless. Chasing that elusive gold buckle.
For what? To instill a sense of family pride, even when Trevor knew nothing he accomplished would be good enough for his father, former world champion Tater Glanzer?
The final straw occurred after the threesome with his buddy Cash Big Crow and Cash’s then-girlfriend, Gemma Jansen. It wasn’t an odd thing for Cash to call him and ask for help in giving Gemma an experience she’d never forget: fucking two men at the same time. Trevor’d always held a secret attraction to the bawdy Gemma, so he’d shown up, more than willing to oblige.
But during the course of that sexual encounter, what’d started out a fun, sexy and raunchy romp became awkward—and very apparent three was a crowd.
It’d never bothered Trevor to be considered the sweet-talking bad boy of the rodeo circuit. But the cavalier attitude toward sex came home to roost that summer night, when he realized that’s all he was to his so-called friends. Good time Trevor; he’ll fuck your women, drink your booze and back you in a bar fight. But don’t call him for anything important because he’s just another horny, drunken cowboy who’ll be gone chasing eight and the gate at dawn.
The next day, Trevor swore off women, sex, booze and rodeo.
That summer also marked the breaking point with his family. For years he’d suffered infighting with his siblings about who’d take over the sizeable Glanzer ranch. Trevor hated how his dad played his kids against each other, especially when everyone in five counties snickered that Tater Glanzer had no intention of passing on the ranch until he was dead. Not only was his old man too mean to die, at age sixty-one it’d be a helluva long time before they’d need to build a pine box for the ornery SOB.
So two years ago, Trevor loaded up his horse, his measly belongings and cut himself off from his entire family. He hadn’t regretted it. Next to marrying Chassie West, it was the best thing he’d ever done.
Just the whisper of her name in his head brought a smile to his face and calmness to his soul. She’d made him feel like a real man, a worthy man, for the first time in his thirty-year existence. Treating him like a rancher, not another good-for-nothin’ washed-up rodeo cowboy. Listening to him when no one else would. Understanding him when he scarcely understood himself.
His sweet, loving, funny and stubborn wife embodied everything beautiful, good, honest and true in the world. She was every damn thing he’d ever wanted in a life partner and never thought he’d find or that he deserved. Trevor hadn’t believed in love at first sight until he’d met Chassie West.
You believed in it with Edgard.
Yes. No. Maybe.
Shit. Trevor scrubbed his hands over his face. No, it wasn’t love right off the bat with Edgard, even when he’d suspected that was what it’d become, even when he’d refused to admit those feelings to Edgard or to himself. He’d fought his damn attraction to Ed, mostly because it pissed him off to be attracted to a man.
It’d been hard as hell to comprehend. He’d never so much looked at another guy the way he looked at Edgard. Not once, in all his sexual escapades starting when he was a green lad of fifteen, had Trevor fantasized about fucking another man…until he’d hooked up with the quiet, intense, sloe-eyed Brazilian.
No one besides their traveling partner, Colby McKay, ever knew the true nature of their relationship. As additional cover, Edgard participated in the wild sexual exploits on the road to rodeo glory. With a bevy of buckle bunnies following the three of them, the other male rodeo contestants lumped Edgard in with Trevor and Colby as players in musical bed partners.
Edgard’s preference for men wasn’t obvious to anyone. Except Trevor. Edgard never touched him suggestively. Nor did he come right out and state his desire to throw Trevor in his bed and fuck him like an animal.
After months of hot looks and evocative comments getting him nowhere, Trevor figured he’d have to make the first move. It’d taken him a pint of Jim Beam to act on the attraction and even then he’d made a clumsy pass at Edgard. Kissing him sloppily.
Groping him between the legs.
But Edgard refused his advances, saying he wouldn’t let alcohol be an excuse for them becoming lovers. Trevor would either come to Edgard completely sober or not at all.
So Trevor swallowed his pride, his fear, and practically begged. Edgard remained leery. Until that first explosive touch. In the two and a half years they were together, the heat between them never cooled, yet Trevor wondered if the urgency and secrecy contributed to the appeal.
Is that why Edgard was here? To rekindle that flame? To tempt Trevor away from Chassie? Or had Edgard found a new love and needed to prove there was nothing left between them but molten memories and deep regret?
Only one way to find out.
Trevor trudged from the barn and headed for the house.
By the time Trevor finished scrubbing the machine oil from his hands, Chassie and Edgard had returned to the kitchen.
Chassie said, “Who wants coffee?”
“Sounds great, Chass.”
“There’s cookies, unless Trev ate them all. The man has a serious sweet tooth.”
“Then I oughta munch on you, darlin’, since you’re so durn sweet.” Trevor nibbled the side of her jaw and Chassie squealed. He reached above her head for the coffee cups on the pegs.
Trevor turned and saw Edgard staring at them. Not with jealousy, but with longing.
Simple affectionate moments had been rare between them and Trevor remembered it was one of the things Edgard had needed that Trevor hadn’t been able to offer him. Why did he feel just as guilty about that shortcoming now as he had back then?
Chassie poured the coffee. Trevor automatically grabbed the milk jug from the fridge and set it next to Edgard. He snagged a spoon from the dish rack, passing it and the sugar canister to Edgard, ignoring Chassie’s questioning stare.
Didn’t mean a damn thing he remembered exactly how Edgard liked his coffee. Not a damn thing.
“So, Edgard, what are you doin’ in our neck of the woods?”
“Reliving some old memories. I drove past my grandparents’ place yesterday. With the shabby way it’s looking I’m wishing I would’ve bought it when I had the chance.” He smiled wryly. “I’m kicking myself for letting another thing slip through my fingers.”
“Grandparents?” Chassie repeated, not noticing Trevor’s rigid posture after Edgard’s comment. “You from around here?”
“Yes. And no.” Edgard relayed the story about his mother. Getting pregnant as a foreign exchange student, giving birth to Edgard before his biological father, a young cowboy, died in an accident. She’d returned home to Brazil and married Edgard’s stepfather.
“Whoa. That’s kind of soap-operaish, isn’t it?”
“Mmm-hmm.” Edgard blew across his coffee. “But it does make me an American citizen so I can come and go as I please in the good ol’ U.S. of A.”
Trevor listened as Chassie asked a million questions about Edgard’s life and Brazil.
They finished off the pot of coffee and the time passed pleasantly. He even managed to meet Edgard’s gaze a couple of times.
The phone rang and Chassie excused herself to answer it.
Silence hung between them as heavy as snow clouds in a winter sky.
Eventually, Edgard said, “She doesn’t know anything about me. Not even that we were roping partners. Not that we were…” He looked at Trevor expectantly.