|Song of the Lonesome Cowboy by Lynn Kelling|
Tucker Reynolds is a rising star in country music. The people from his record label tell him he’s destined to be one of the greats—but only if he fits the “good ol’ boy” image country fans expect from him. The trouble is, that’s not the kind of man’s man Tucker really wants to be. Forced into an unsavory relationship with a record executive and frustrated by his regrettably platonic relationship with his best friend and guitarist, Mags Palmer, Tucker turns to kinky sex with male prostitutes for release. Things hit Tucker’s limit when one of Tucker’s bandmates, Jess Grayville, begins to suspect what’s going on, and puts himself in danger to protect Tucker. Desperate for a way out of his troubles, Tucker realizes only honesty, love, and a true song can save himself and the man who stands by him. (M/M)
I’d crushed on Mags for so long, and all it had ever gotten me—all it would ever get me—was that damned uncomfortable, unsatisfying, inappropriate place I was in. Threesomes, watching him, imagining some of our places swapped around, and it wasn’t enough. But it was all I would get. I never grew out of getting hot over other men. The music industry told me I couldn’t be what I was. The church said god wanted me burning in hellfire, and any bad things that happened were punishment for being gay. And here was my best friend in the world, simultaneously getting me close to my dearest dream, yet holding it just out of reach. If I lunged, and grabbed for it anyway, I’d lose him, too.
I couldn’t face the thought of losing him. We were far too tangled up in each other for that. So, something was better than nothing, wasn’t it?
“I’ll call the front desk, be by to get my shit later,” he muttered, sounding like he was giving up. Much to my surprise, it sounded like he was really going to go through with it, for my sake. He wasn’t even trying to make a big deal out of it, either. Maybe I should have been relieved, but I wasn’t. Not at all. Because if I let him go now, how far might he stray?
There were a few things that were certain. There was no fucking with them; they were simply the facts I had to work around. One of them was that Mags had no idea what I’d suffered through—what I was still suffering through. The danger was still out there, watching, lurking, waiting. So far I’d kept Mags safe from harm, but would it last? Was it better to keep him close, keep an eye on the bastard, or get him as far away as possible? It was hard to tell. And on the other hand, I knew letting Mags talk me into another threesome would only leave me feeling like I’d made yet another terrible decision worth feeling shitty about. But I also knew this might be the beginning of the end of my friendship with Mags. We were fighting all the time and avoiding each other more and more because there were just too many damned lies between us, and I was too angry over how much I’d suffered so he didn’t have to at all.
Mags was bad for me, plain and simple. Didn’t matter. I still wanted him. Hell, I loved the guy.
“This isn’t going to be an all-night thing. And if I get even a whiff of a suspicion that you’re pressuring her to go through with this, it doesn’t happen and she goes home. You got me, Mags?”
The cool glass pressed against the skin of my temple, a small, real sensation to anchor to while insanity ran rampant over my conversation and decisions.
“Oh yeah, I got you. No problem, darlin’,” he replied, sounding happy as could be. “I’m glad to hear you’re interested. Be up in a few.”
I hung up.
“God, you asshole. You’re such an asshole!” I ranted at myself, futilely, “What are you doing?”
The thing to do was to leave, to get my good ol’ Stetson hat and my jacket, and hit the bar downstairs. It would kill time, as well as put some space between me and the devil with the girl on his arm. That’s why I kept sitting there, drinking my whiskey, telling myself I was about to get up, about to leave and make a better choice.
Ten minutes later, Mags walked in, laughing with Sugartits, who gave me a blushing smile and a kiss on the cheek before heading off to the bedroom, hurried along by Mags’ firm slap to her ass. Mags shut the suite’s door and locked it. He set his black hat beside my tan one, shrugged off his leather duster, and twisted the shirt up over his head. Bare-chested, wearing only boots and jeans, he walked over to me in the kitchenette.
His dark eyes were on me, measuring me, trying to figure me out. It was sexy as hell. I loved to let him look, even if I couldn’t meet his gaze, or even get close.