Ride a Stud by J.D. Walker is the follow-up to her story, Save a Horse, which appeared in our best-selling Cowboy Roundup anthology, and we have an exclusive excerpt for you!
Ranch foreman Bo Clack has been besotted with town sheriff Nicholas “Bulldog” McMurtry for years. Bulldog knows it, the town knows it, and even Bo knows nothing will ever happen, but he seems to be stuck in a lovesick rut. Then Sam Kinsey, a regular guest at one of the sheriff’s weekend barbecue orgies, takes an interest in Bo, and he won’t be ignored.
Except, Sam can’t seem to say the right thing to the foreman and puts his foot in it too many times to count. And then others try to give Bo and Sam a helping hand and make things worse. From a fistfight to fending off unwanted advances at a bar, Bo navigates this brave new world where everyone is trying to get him a happy ending. With Sam.
Maybe he should let them. Because, once you save the horse, then you, uh, ride the stud.
At three o’clock the next afternoon, while I was taking a breather on my front porch, I watched as car after car left the ranch. Sam’s candy-red pickup was still there, though. I wondered if he’d say goodbye before he left. He might have been embarrassed about last night, but I’d gotten over it. At any rate, I needed to go up to the big house to give Bulldog a report on how things were going, the way I did every week.
After finishing my can of soda, I left it on the deck and wiped the sweat off my face with a bright green bandana that matched my shirt as I walked over to Bulldog’s place. As I got closer, I heard raised voices and wondered what the hell was going on. I moved a little faster, and once I got to the porch stairs, I took two steps at a time to get into the house through the open front door.
I practically skidded to a stop when I saw Sam land a fist in the sheriff’s jaw, barely making him stagger. Before I could do anything, Bulldog pushed Sam to the ground and they started punching each other, grunting and swearing and rolling around like idiots. Jesus. I watched them for a while before deciding it was time to step in.
Using all the strength God gave me, I pulled the men apart and stepped between them, a hand on each man’s heaving chest to keep them from further pummeling each other. And why did I notice how nice and firm Sam’s chest was at that very moment?
“Mind telling me what nonsense brought this on?” I queried, my muscles straining with the effort of keeping the peace.
“Sam called me a pussy and I didn’t appreciate it.” Okay, now we were getting somewhere.
“Alright. Sam, why’d you call Bulldog a pussy?”
Sam growled. “Because that’s what he is. He’s afraid of commitment and he uses screwing around with other men to hide that fact. It’s about damn time somebody told him that. I called him on it, and he didn’t like it.”
Curious now, despite the heaving, angry bulls on either side of me, I glanced at each man and asked, “How did this even come up in conversation?”
And almost immediately they both deflated and refused to look me in the eye. I took two steps back, suddenly horrified at what I guessed was the most likely reason for all this hullabaloo, especially if Sam thought he was making things up to me after what he’d said the night before.
“Tell me you stupid fools weren’t fighting over my delicate sensibilities.” The lack of response, along with the sheepish looks and boots scuffing the wooden floor, answered my question.
“Really?” I threw my hands in the air. “Goddamn! Did I ask either one of y’all to do this on my behalf? I can handle my own damn love life, thank you very much. And you know what? Go back to beating each other up. Maybe you’ll pound some sense into those empty brains of yours. The fuck, man?”
I stalked out of the house, figuring I’d send an email to Bulldog with the ranch update because there was no way I’d cool down enough to be civil with him face to face right now. And as for Sam? I didn’t want to think about it. In fact, since Melvin was here today, I decided to ask him to bed down the horses tonight so I could drive an hour into the city to work out some frustration. Sex usually made me feel better.