The Layover by C.V. Madison
part of the Buckle Down anthology
erotic cowboy M/M romance
Release Date: 02/06/2014
Cover art by Winterheart Design
Security expert and avowed city boy Reno Locke drops into The Meeting Place for a little loving to fill his off hours. Country boy Wilder Henderson swings through to blow off a little steam after winning a rodeo competition. Locke finally works up the nerve to hit on Wilder and Locke takes Wilder back to his room. He finds out this urban cowboy is just what he was looking for during his layover.
Locke twirled the umbrella in his drink, squinting when the red and white stripes blurred into pink before settling again. A timeline of glasses set across from him, each with varying degrees of melting ice.
It seemed darker in the bar than usual. Maybe it was the crush of somber suited bodies, a visual anomaly generated by the mix of charcoals, slates, and blacks sponging up the low light. A haze further muddled the dim ambiance. Small smoky fingers crept toward him as people passed. Couples and bachelors created miniature jet trails on their path to the barman in the hunt for liquor.
Pulling a cigarette from his pocket, Locke tapped his lighter twice on the mahogany arm of his chair before adding his contribution to the acrid perfume of the room. Groups of people mingled together, some of them already sloppy from cocktails, others in high spirits for a well-earned free evening. He watched the Ice Queen at the end of the bar turn down the fourth hopeful in what looked to be a never-ending line of suitors.
The last of the smooth, sweet whiskey trickled down his throat. A single dewy drop of condensation fell from his glass, spattered the front of his cerulean shirt, and barely missed the silk noose around his neck.
Turning the tumbler between his fingers, a small nagging thought nipped at him—this crowd might not be a likely school to fish from.
Letting the heavy-bottomed glass fall back to the dense wood table with a clink, Locke signaled the waitress for another of the same.
A chilly blast of winter air whined past the bar door, bullying the smoky haze for floor space as a new arrival hustled in. Of the few patrons seated closest, most pulled their collars against the bite of bitter Chicago wind.
Locke made a face. Hand-tailored ensembles were often ill substitutes for outerwear, and the near zero temperature made him want someone to huddle with on his walk back to his hotel.
The bar’s newest arrival scanned the tar-darkened decor for a prime seat. Tall and lanky and topped by a black western hat, he was a good head and a half taller than the seated crowd. The wide-brimmed felted hat was the first of his dress to be removed. Sandy blond hair stuck out in wild tufts, resisting the quick comb of his tapered fingers.
Smiling, he made a flirty pass toward a woman perched atop a tall chair. He gave a teasing beg of forgiveness for wetting her dress with snow before making his way into the heart of the room.
A set of aged spurs fixed to the heel of his black boots jangled as they struck against the scarred wood floor, their tone contrasting the smooth jazz melody.
A bolo lay close against the top button of his shirt, the silver Concho sunburst a simple contrast to the bold plaid print of the once-upon-a-time pressed western shirt. Slipping out of a weather-stained insulated workman’s coat, he knocked himself clean of melting snowflakes.
No longer hidden, a pair of worn jeans hung comfortably on his hips, secured with a wide silver-buckled belt, a piece he spent a good minute fussing over before finally ordering something to drink.
Damn. Hello, tall, tan and handsome. Maybe his prospects weren’t dead in the water. Locke found a niche for his tongue between his back molars while he watched the newcomer toe up to the bar. The sexy cowboy’s five o’clock shadow scraped the faded collar of his shirt. His shirt pulled tight over his back as he leaned in to speak in the bartender’s ear. Well-defined muscle rolled under the taut cloth running the full length of his spine to the cover of denim over his backside. Aged by use, his jeans clung in near perfection to the curvature of work-refined buttocks.
“Holy fuck, that ass…” He wasn’t sure he’d said that out loud, but if he had, no one appeared to notice. Although he’d always thought the phrase “ride a cowboy” stupid, he’d just reconsidered in thirty seconds of seriousness.
The waitress delivered Locke’s drink as he ogled the new man draped over the bar. Two drinks arrived for the cowboy. The smaller serving was quickly dropped into the larger, letting him down both with a practiced ease. Coming up for breath the blond panted, looking around to those nearby with a come-easy grin.
“If that ain’t enough to keep the blood going, then best throw me out in the snow now!” He let another whoop go then did a quick follow-up of beer to chase his Boilermaker.
The newcomer laughed quietly, maybe about the attention he’d drawn with his coarse demeanor. His drawl was thick, a genuine mark of a kid born and raised in the South. Everything about his composure suggested he’d rubbed elbows with well-to-do’s before and cared not one lick to shadow their rules.
Hazel eyes met Locke’s. The modern cowboy took a half step from his claim at the bar and thrust his hand forward. “You come here often?”