I watched Creston Grant trying to decide whether to stay or go.
I didn’t blame him for his indecision.
The Breck he remembered? Total fucking tool. As well as being a world-class asshole, a condescending prick, a sharp-tongued dickhead, and a douchebag.
Yeah, I’d been the posterchild for how not to win friends and influence people.
Little wonder I was back here hiding, wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself into again.
Cres heaved a sigh and shuffled forward. Then he turned and planted his backside next to mine—but not too close to mine.
I quietly exhaled.
He didn’t speak right away. I remembered that about him—he weighed his words carefully before he spoke. At first I’d believed it was a family trait he shared with his brother Sutton, the stereotypical quiet gruff cowboy. But then I discovered the reason for his caution—his sexual orientation. I might be in a different situation if I’d acted more circumspect.
But I also remembered finding a fissure in that tough outer shell of his. And how easy it was to apply the perfect amount of pressure until that fissure widened into a crack—a crack I used to open him up fully to all the naked possibilities between us. I should’ve felt guilty; Cres was a decade younger and hadn’t built up defenses against a guy like me. Yet, of all my conquests, Cres Grant had been the one I’d regretted letting go.
“I’m surprised to see you back here alone,” he said, interrupting my thoughts. “I thought you preferred to be in the thick of things.”
“I used to be .”
“It is what it is.”
From the corner of my eye I saw Cres turn his head and squint at me. “So why are you here, Breck?”
“Here in Colorado at the grand opening of Grade A Rodeo Academy?”
“Sutton, London, or Mel didn’t fill you in?” I asked.
“Nope. I’ve been out of the loop since…” He paused. “For a while.”
I shoved the poker chip in my front jeans pocket. “I remember you tellin’ me you didn’t follow rodeo even when your brother dominated the leaderboard.”
Cres shrugged. “Not my thing. So you’re here as a guest?”
“Nah. I’m a staff member.”
He frowned. “I didn’t hear your name called or see you go up to the podium when Chuck and Berlin introduced the staff.”
“That’s because I asked to remain anonymous.”
“Right. Because you’re still way too fucking cool for all this bullshit.”
His response wasn’t unexpected but it still stung. The old me would’ve gone off on him, belittling him, berating him until he slunk away with his tail between his legs, allowing me to feel superior. I didn’t have it in me to be that guy anymore.
“Yeah. That’s it. You’ve got me pegged.” I pushed away from the van. “Nice seein’ you, Cres. Take care.” I skirted the front end of the van and kept walking along the raised ledge of the small ravine until the noise faded and I could breathe.
Heedless of the dusty surface, I found a flat spot and let my feet dangle over the edge. Wasn’t a huge drop, but it’d be a bitch to climb out of if I slipped. Good thing I hadn’t been drinking. I picked up a handful of rocks, thinking about the last time I’d seen Cres—at Sutton and London’s wedding. So much of that time was a blur of booze. I’d managed to scrounge up a date because back then it’d been paramount to keep up appearances.
Nothing to see over here, folks. Just a horny single cowboy adding a new notch on his championship belt by bedding yet another hot woman.
I’d had a huge ego back then too. It’d been heady stuff, knowing guys wanted to be me; on fire in the arena and burning up the sheets with a different buckle bunny every night.
But it’d all been a lie. A house of cards about to tumble and crush me like a bug.
I might’ve been able to survive rumors of fucking anything with a pulse if I’d had a winning season. In previous years, officials, sponsors, and even rodeo fans chalked up the rumors of my insatiable sexual appetite as blowing off steam after my many wins. The whispers of my sexcapades with same-sex partners were written off as drunken experimentation after too many Jäger shots. Even the wildest rumors worked to my advantage and added to my status that I could have any woman I wanted on her knees with just a look.
Problem was it wasn’t a woman I wanted on her knees.