Special offer inside this Box Set to celebrate the 30th release in the Cattle Valley series
Despite the eighteen year age difference, Sammy Lee wants his new boss, Assistant Fire Chief, Leo Burkowski. Living and working side by side at the firehouse several days a week is wearing on Lee's control. When Leo asks for his help with a special project, Sammy can't take it anymore and makes his move.
Although Sammy is playing for keeps, Leo refuses to think of the relationship as anything more than a passing affair. Age has been an issue in the past, and although Leo's attracted to the younger man, he's learned the hard way to keep his heart out of it.
Will the heat generated between the two men be enough to melt Leo's resolve, or will Sammy's hopes go down in a blaze of disappointment?
‘Neil's Guardian Angel’
After a fall from his horse leaves Neil Peters in need of around-the-clock care, he is forced to face a past he doesn't even remember. Ben Waters, the man constantly at his bedside, doesn't even look familiar. So why does Neil feel there's more to the story when Ben introduces himself as Neil's legal guardian?
Ben's inappropriate feelings towards his ward once forced him to send Neil away. Now, Neil once again threatens Ben's control. Ben tries to push aside his desires as he helps Neil but they won't be shoved away this time. And soon he learns, reaching out to the man he still loves is the only way for both of them to come to terms with their pasts and their future.
Zac Alben loved his life in Cattle Valley until he made the ultimate mistake and introduced his partner in life, Terry, to his on-the-job partner, Jakob.
Zac Alben loved his life in Cattle Valley until he made the ultimate mistake and introduced his partner in life, Terry, to his on-the-job partner, Jakob. He hoped the two men would hit it off, but he had no idea the meeting would forever change his life.
Scarred and broken, Zac shows the facade of a man on the mend. He returns to work, joins the community in celebrating Cattle Valley Days and wakes nightly in a cold sweat.
Pushed away at every turn, Jakob Cox still doesn't know what happened the night Zac nearly lost his life. Despite Zac's cold shoulder, Jakob takes it upon himself to drag the man he loves back into the land of the living.
‘Making the Grade’
Kenny Trenton has had a crush on Cattle Valley English teacher, Eli Sanchez, since the age of seventeen. Although Kenny's no longer a schoolboy, Eli refuses to see his fellow faculty member as anything but a student.
Eli has spent his life hiding from the outside world. When the loneliness gets too much, he decides to make the changes necessary to open himself up to friendships and perhaps a relationship.
When Eli attends a high school football game in a neighbouring community, he's attacked in the parking lot. Although Kenny's the one to rescue him, Eli begins to think he's made a mistake and living in the outside world isn't a good idea.
Kenny's determined to keep Eli from retreating into his shell once again, but will his love be enough?
‘To Service and Protect’
Ethan Drake thought he'd left danger behind when he fled to Cattle Valley, but when he starts to hear strange noises late at night, his worst fears come back to haunt him.
Despite Ethan's numerous calls to the local sheriff's department, Deputies Brian Allenbrand and Pete Nash are unable to find any indication of foul play. Casual lovers since arriving in Cattle Valley, Brian and Pete draw Ethan into an erotic world he never imagined existed.
Caught up in their games, the threesome lose focus on the dangers lurking in the shadows. When the past rears its ugly head the two deputies team up to make sure Ethan is protected at all costs, even if the price is their hearts and their jobs.
General Release Date: 13th December 2013
Excerpt from Firehouse Heat
Leo Burkowski lifted the barbell from its stand and began to do his normal set of fifty. He was getting into his zone when Sammy Lee popped into the room.
“Pirate’s Cove is about to start,” Sammy informed him.
“That’s okay. I’ve got other things on my mind today. You go ahead,” Leo replied. Hopefully Sammy would leave it at that.
“Want me to record it?”
“Naw, don’t worry about it.” Leo continued his workout without looking at Sammy.
“Well, okay then. I guess I can fill you in at supper.”
Leo heard the hurt tone in the other man’s voice, but didn’t acknowledge it. “Sure.”
Sammy left the small weight room, and Leo resettled the weights on the stand. He reached beside him and grabbed a towel to wipe his face and neck.
In the beginning, he’d enjoyed spending time with Sammy. The younger man liked to flirt and it was a nice feeling to know the handsome man was attracted to him. Over the winter things started to get out of control. Sammy became more obvious, and Leo became more tempted.
Leo sat up and braced his forearms on his knees as he looked out the window. The most recent deluge of snow was quickly melting under the unseasonably warm March temperatures. According to George, Cattle Valley didn’t normally dig out until well into April. Leo hoped they’d seen the last of the snow for a while, but he knew enough not to hold his breath.
Having been born and raised in Milwaukee, Leo was used to the snow, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. He’d much rather be outside, walking around town or swimming. Jogging used to be his passion, but with his busted-up knee, that particular activity was no longer an option.
Leo absently rubbed the small scars on his knee. If it hadn’t been for the injury he’d sustained on a call, he wouldn’t have been off work so long. If he hadn’t been off work, his partner, Randy, wouldn’t have had the chance to hook up with that young EMT at the station.
Leo grunted at his thoughts and stood. Thinking about Randy always put him in a funk. He walked to the treadmill and started a slow pace to warm up. Randy’s infidelity was the reason he refused to act on any attraction he may feel for Sammy. He’d seen first-hand what fucking a younger man looked like. Leo doubted he’d have ever noticed how old he and Randy were getting if it hadn’t been for walking in on Randy fucking the twenty-three year old. The contrast in their bodies alone was enough to make Randy look like a creepy old letch.
His cell phone started to ring, drawing Leo’s attention away from his workout and his libido. He shut down the treadmill and crossed the room to his phone.
“Hi,” Neil greeted.
Leo grinned. He’d been working with Neil Peters as a grief counsellor since he’d arrived in town. Neil refused to talk to a psychologist regarding his feelings about the death of his boyfriend Gavin, and since Leo had a fair amount of training, he’d offered to befriend the younger man to help him out. There were a lot of people in Cattle Valley still trying to cope with the horrific grandstand collapse earlier in the year. Leo didn’t do anything special with Neil. They usually just rode around the EZ Does It ranch and talked. Leo thought more than anything, Neil just needed a friend.
“I was wondering if you’d like to go for a ride this evening?” Neil said.
“Can’t tonight. I’m on shift, but I can come out tomorrow night.”
“Okay, that sounds good. I’ll pick up a six-pack.”
Leo’s smile grew. Since Neil’s twenty-first birthday, the guy rarely missed out on an opportunity to drink beer. “None of that light crap.”
Neil laughed. “I remember.”
“See ya then,” Leo said before hanging up.
He picked up his towel and headed towards the showers. Maybe he should get Sammy interested in Neil. At barely thirty-years old, Sammy was closer to Neil’s age than Leo’s forty-eight.
Leo shook his head and rolled his eyes. He needed to stop worrying about Sammy. If he tried to push the younger man onto someone else, it would only cause trouble around the station. Living and working together would be hell if he pissed the guy off.
Excerpt from Neil's Guardian Angel
Ben Waters finished the rest of his cardboard flavoured sandwich and sipped at yet another cup of coffee. The hospital cafeteria had become almost like a second home to him. It had been ten days since he’d received the late night phone call from Leo Burkowski informing him that his ward, Neil Peters, had been seriously injured in a fall from his horse. Serious, as it turned out, had been an understatement.
For days, Neil slipped in and out of consciousness. Now that he was finally awake, Neil was experiencing a good deal of amnesia. He seemed to remember his friend Leo and Leo’s partner Sammy, as well as the other folks from Cattle Valley that came to see him, but he didn’t remember Ben or his life before he moved to the small Wyoming town.
Worse, Neil’s physical mobility had been compromised by the severe blow to the head. The doctors hoped, with therapy, Neil would regain the use of his hands and his left leg, but so far the young man Ben had always known was practically helpless.
A hand landed on his shoulder, startling him out of his thoughts. He glanced up and smiled at Leo. “You scared me.”
“Sorry about that.” Leo set a fresh cup of coffee in front of Ben and took the chair across from him.
“I stopped into the room, but Neil’s napping. I figured I’d find you down here,” Leo said.
Ben nodded. “Thought I might as well grab something to eat while he slept.”
Leo traced the design on the outside of his cup with his finger. “Any change?”
“And I suppose you still haven’t told him who you really are.”
“He knows I’m his legal guardian, but he still doesn’t remember me,” Ben admitted.
“Don’t you think you should tell him the rest?”
“The rest? What, like how I kicked him out of my life after he told me he loved me?” Ben shook his head. “If there’s a reason he doesn’t remember me, I figure that’s it.”
“You should tell him you love him.”
Ben finished off his original cup of coffee before pouring two packets of sugar into the one Leo had given him. “What good would that do? Maybe it’s better he doesn’t remember. I know how much I hurt him by pushing him away.”
“Why did you?” Leo asked. “I mean, you don’t have to tell me, but I know why Neil thinks you did it.”
Ben shook his head. “I know what Neil thought, but the age issue was only a small part of it.”
“Was it because you were his guardian?”
“Partly. I had my reasons. Things I won’t discuss.”
Leo nodded. “From what little he’s told me, I gather things were pretty damn bad at home.”
“You can’t even imagine what that boy went through. In the beginning, it seemed I called the cops at least once a week. They never seemed to do much.” Ben cleared his throat. “Did Neil tell you his mom was a dispatcher for the police department?”
Leo shook his head. “He never mentioned it.”
“Well, she had everyone fooled, including the Department of Social Services. It got to the point she threatened to move away. In my heart, I knew that I couldn’t let that happen. At least with Neil living next door, I was able to protect him as much as possible.”
“Sounds like you did all you could.”
“Not all. I found out after his mother’s death, beating him wasn’t all the woman’s boyfriends enjoyed doing to Neil.” Ben swallowed around the bile rising in his throat. “I knew Neil seemed to be unnaturally interested in learning about gay sex. I mistakenly chalked it up to him being curious about my open homosexuality. He never gave any indication he’d been violated, but I should’ve seen it. I should’ve known.”
“Bullshit. Now you’re being too hard on yourself.”
“I’ll never be as hard on myself as I deserve. Pushing Neil away seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Part of me was afraid I’d fallen in love with him for the wrong reasons as well. It wasn’t until after he left, and I didn’t hear from him, that I realised I loved him more than I’d ever loved anyone.”
Ben sighed and stood. “I need to get back up there. Neil may not remember me, but he’s gotten used to having me around. Once again, I’m like an old, ratty security blanket to him.”
Leo stood and clapped Ben on the back. “I have a pretty good idea that in his heart, he remembers exactly who you are. It just might take his mind a little more time to catch up.”
Excerpt from Scarred
“Good morning, zipper face,” Zac Alben whispered to his reflection. He plugged in his electric razor and touched it to his left cheek. The left side was easy. He didn’t have to worry about being gentle like he did with the right.
Zac turned to the side like he did every morning, and began shaving off the dark overnight stubble. He hated the electric razor, it never shaved close enough for his taste, but his skin was still too sensitive for a real blade.
“Breakfast is on the table,” his father, Butch, called.
“Be there in a minute,” Zac returned. He ran his hand over his left cheek, satisfied. Before turning to shave the other side of his face, he took a moment to stare at his reflection in profile.
Although he’d never thought of himself as gorgeous, he’d always known he was good-looking. Perhaps it was karma that he’d lost whatever beauty he’d once possessed. Zac mentally said goodbye to the handsome man in the mirror and turned to fully face the mirror.
The right side of his face always took three times longer. He’d tried growing a beard shortly after the accident that had left him freakishly scarred, but quickly found it made the jagged scars more pronounced instead of the other way around.
A noise to his left got his attention. Zac noticed his father standing in the bathroom doorway. “Do you need in here?”
“No. Just wondered what was keeping you. Scrambled eggs suck if you let ’em get cold.”
“Well excuse me if I can’t get ready as fast as you can anymore,” Zac barked.
Butch shook his head and left without saying another word. Zac cursed himself. He needed to stop taking his anger and frustration out on his dad, a man who’d dropped everything to fly to Cattle Valley after Zac had almost lost his life.
He finished shaving and shoved the razor under the sink, knowing he wouldn’t be back to the house until Monday. It was Cattle Valley Days weekend, and Zac had volunteered to work through it, giving the other EMTs the time off.
Zac entered the kitchen of the cute bungalow he’d fallen in love with on sight and stood beside the table. “Sorry about that.”
Butch shook his head and took another bite of his bacon. “I’m getting used to it.”
“Yeah, and that’s the problem. I need to stop taking my mood out on you or else I’m going to run you off.” Zac took a seat and reached for the salt and pepper.
“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that,” Butch began.
Zac could tell by the look in his dad’s eyes he was leaving. “When’re you going?”
“My flight leaves Tuesday morning. I thought I’d stick around this weekend and see what all the fuss is about first, though.”
Zac nodded. Cattle Valley Days had always been a big celebration, but since the grandstand collapse the previous year, they were expecting the crowd-size to double with out-of-town guests. Zac knew most of the strangers who’d show up were good people, but there would be the inevitable crowd of morbid folks coming to see the site of the worst disaster in Cattle Valley’s history.
“Sammy’s off today and tomorrow. You should give him a call.”
“Oh, I’m sure he’ll be with his fella. I don’t mind wandering around on my own.”
Zac shook his head. “Leo works today, so Sammy’ll probably be thankful for the company.”
Butch shrugged noncommittally and continued eating. “Jakob called again this morning.”
Zac’s head popped up from concentrating on his breakfast. He hated that his first reaction to Jakob’s name was always one of excitement. Zac schooled his features quickly. “What’d he want?”
“To know if you were on shift today. I told him you were working all weekend.”
Zac went back to his cold eggs. “That all he wanted?”
“Well, he asked how you were doing, and how I was doing.” Butch set down his fork and leaned his forearms against the edge of the table. “You ever gonna tell me why you keep pushing that boy away?”
“Nope. That’s between us. Believe me, it’s better this way.” His appetite gone, Zac stood and carried his plate to the sink. He scraped the uneaten food down the disposal and set his plate in the dishwasher.
“Stop by the firehouse if you get bored.” Zac gave his dad a quick kiss on the top of his cleanly shaven head. “I’ll call ya later.”
“Be safe,” Butch said.
Zac grabbed his duffle and walked out the door. On the front porch he stopped and took a deep breath. It was going to be a scorcher of a day. Thankfully he’d be either in the air conditioned firehouse or riding around in the ambulance.
Excerpt from Making the Grade
Eli Sanchez smoothed the wrinkles from his morning newspaper and took a sip of coffee. He still didn’t understand why the paperboy insisted on smashing the papers down after he rolled them. How many times had Eli discussed the matter with him? He shook his head. Once again he was letting his idiosyncrasies get the better of him.
Sure he was a man who liked everything done just so, but that was his early military training kicking in. Allowing the training he’d hated to ruin his mood over stupid creases in his newspaper was just plain ridiculous.
Shoving the paper aside, Eli took a bite of the bagel with low fat cream cheese he’d prepared earlier and thought about the day ahead. Recently, Eli had found himself having to think about the upcoming weekend in order to get through each day in the classroom. It wasn’t that he had anything to do on the weekend, hell, he usually sat home grading papers, but at least he didn’t have to share space with Kenny Trenton.
With any luck, the school’s reconstruction would finally be complete by the end of the year and he’d be back in his old classroom after the Christmas break. Eli sighed. The day couldn’t come soon enough. If he had to yell at Kenny one more time for hovering over him like he was some old man who needed looked after, he’d scream.
Sure he was seventeen years older than the handsome sonofabitch, but he sure as hell wasn’t an old man. Eli stood and carried his coffee cup and half-eaten bagel to the trash. After scrubbing his dishes clean and placing them into the dishwasher, he retrieved his insulated mug from the cupboard and poured the remainder of the coffee into it. Perfect. He always managed to make just the right amount of coffee. No sense wasting it and he didn’t care for reheated coffee.
Before leaving the kitchen, Eli ran a fresh dishcloth over the countertops and table before rinsing the cloth and hanging it to dry in the laundry room. After a quick glance around, he turned out the light and grabbed his travel mug.
Perhaps he’d get lucky and Kenny would be busy watching football films in his office in preparation for the big game on Friday night. Mentally crossing his fingers, Eli shouldered his well-worn messenger bag and headed out the door.
* * * *
“Hey, you playing hookie today?”
Kenny opened his eyes and glanced at the clock. “Shit.”
Throwing back the covers, Kenny jumped out of bed and headed to the bathroom. “I must’ve hit the off button instead of the snooze. Throw me a pair of underwear and some sweats out that drawer, will ya?”
Kenny assessed his appearance in the mirror. Other than a slight case of bedhead his hair looked clean enough. He loaded his toothbrush and stuck it in his mouth before grabbing for the deodorant. Going without a shower was one thing, but he doubted Eli would appreciate him stinking up the health room.
Luke appeared in the doorway with a crooked grin on his face. He tossed Kenny’s clean clothes to the counter before holding up the pair of black mesh underwear he’d been saving for a special occasion.
“Nice underwear, dude.”
Kenny spat the toothpaste into the sink and turned on the faucet. “I asked you to grab a pair of underwear not paw through my stuff. I happen to know for a fact those were in the back of the drawer underneath everything else.”
Shaking his head, Luke laughed. “Sorry. They just surprised me is all. You get those for Eli?”
“Fuck off,” Kenny said, reaching for his clothes. He started to pull down his underwear but stopped and stared at his long-time friend. “You mind?”
“No, not at all. Go ahead,” Luke answered.
“Get out. Go make yourself useful and grab me a bottle of orange juice and a couple of pieces of toast.”
With a roll of his eyes, Luke turned and headed out of the room. “A please would be nice.”
“Please?” Kenny asked with a growl in his voice. He loved Luke like a brother, but it was too damn early in the morning to deal with a smartass. After adjusting himself to ride comfortably inside his briefs, Kenny pulled on his sweats and reached for his cordless electric razor.
Excerpt from To Service and Protect
Deputy Pete Nash was just getting off shift when his cell phone rang. He pulled the seldom-used phone out of his pocket and glanced at the display. “Well I’ll be a sonofabitch,” he mumbled, shaking his head.
Phone to his ear, Pete answered with a smile. People often told him his smile could melt the hearts of even the coldest bastard, evidently they’d been right. “Allenbrand, it’s about time you called.”
“Save the I-told-you-sos, asshole.”
Pete’s smile grew even wider. “You’re in a good mood.”
Brian grunted. “You want me to meet you for that beer or not?”
Pete pumped his arm against his side in silent celebration. “Yes. O’Brien’s or my place?”
“O’Brien’s. I don’t have time to argue about fucking tonight,” Brian said with a note of finality.
Rolling his eyes, Pete nodded. He wouldn’t bring up the number of times the two of them had done just that over the previous ten months. Still, if Brian wanted to play hard to get, Pete was up for the game. “Fine. O’Brien’s in an hour.”
“I have to pick up Benny from practice in twenty, so I may be a little late. Gotta feed the boy which is no easy task.”
“You know if you didn’t feed him so well, he wouldn’t keep growing, right? What is he, about six-three?”
Brian let out a snort. “No, that was last month. This month he’s six-five.”
“Damn. I’d hate to see your grocery bill.”
“Shut up, you’re depressing me,” Brian said. “I’ll see you when I see you.”
“I’ll be there.” Pete hung up the phone and shoved it back into his pocket. He glanced in the rear-view mirror and considered swinging by his apartment to shave. He smiled at his reflexion. Naw. His face looked damned good with a five o’clock shadow. Maybe he’d get lucky and Brian would be so mesmerised, he’d be unable to resist a quick fuck. Yeah, better shower and get cleaned up.
Pete had no illusions of ever being anything but a booty call to Brian, but he’d put up with Brian’s bullshit this long, he might as well get a few more good fucks in before Brian found what he was really looking for.
By the time Pete parked in front of his ground floor apartment, he was hard. He looked down at the erection pressing against the fly of his jeans and shook his head. “You’ve got a one-track mind.”
He unlocked the door and went straight to the bedroom. It had been a relatively quiet shift so he hung his tan uniform shirt up instead of tossing it in the dry cleaner bag. He went to his dresser and grabbed a black T-shirt. Like all of his T-shirts, this one had a sexually suggestive phrase written on it. A large hardware screw with the words, “Wanna Screw?” written under it. Although some people might find his choice in clothes offensive, at least Pete left no doubts as to what was on his mind.
After stripping, Pete jumped in the shower for a quick wash-up. Despite Brian’s earlier protests, Pete was still hoping to get some action. In no mood to risk the chance of getting laid by arguing over who would top, he cleaned and prepared himself to bottom. It wasn’t something he did often, but hell, he was getting desperate. Anything that got the six-foot three-inch African American in his bed was worth it.
Instead of wondering what it would be like to fuck Brian, blue eyes and blond hair came to mind. He turned off the water and grabbed a towel. Yeah, the sweet little barback at O’Brien’s was just what his dick needed, but Ethan had turned down practically every unattached man in town. Pete had no desire to be another in a long line of rejected fools.
After throwing his towel over the shower rod, he strolled back into the bedroom and started dressing. His cock was still rock hard after the finger job he’d given himself in the shower, but he wasn’t even tempted to jack-off. He carefully worked the zipper on his jeans up over the erection straining against his underwear and tucked in his shirt. A quick check in the mirror and he was smiling once again.
“Damn, I look good.” He reached down and cupped the front of his jeans. No way would Brian, or anyone else for that matter, be able to overlook something so obvious. Excellent.