- Author: Lissa Matthews
- Genre:LGBTTQ, Menage & Polyamory
- Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Jared and Bryson started their life together by leaving their childhood homes to make their way west. Ending up in a small community near Livingston, Montana, with a small horse ranch, life is just about perfect for the two men until Jared gives Walt, a Native American drifter and horse trainer, a ride.
Sparks fly in the truck cab and when Jared gets him home, Walt finds himself caught between two hot-blooded cowboys, a place he never expected to be and one he doesn't want to leave. Their idyllic ménage of love and lust hits the skids though when Jared experiences jealousy and fear. He issues an ultimatum to Bryson and Walt...either they leave, or he will.
Hoping Jared will come to his senses with time and space, Bryson and Walt wait. But after three months, Jared hasn't budged. On his birthday, Bryson and Walt steal into the house they all once shared and wake him with a kiss, a grope, a thrust of hard bodies, and a birthday spanking he will never forget.
Will Jared be able to conquer his doubts and insecurities, or will he lose the only two people who will fight to keep him?
- Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: male sexual practices, menage (m/m/m).
To the right, snowcapped mountains. To the left, snowcapped mountains. Straight ahead, snowcapped mountains. Oh sure, there were fields too. All covered in snow. Only the road was cleared, and he was grateful for the fact it wasn’t snowing at the moment. One look at the puffy clouds above and snow would be falling soon enough.
Wind bit at his face, and every so often he had to hold his hat on his head to keep from losing it. He’d already lost his cool earlier at his impromptu birthday party. He’d gone outside and thought to walk around the immediate area for a bit until his temper had eased, but when he looked, he’d been in the middle of fuckin’ nowhere on his way home.
Home. It hadn’t been home since Bryson had moved out with Walt. Just as well. He clearly wasn’t fit company for anyone.
The sight of the two men who had his guts all torn up walking in, laughing and carryin’ on with each other along with all the cowboys and ranch hands set his teeth on edge. Everyone looked so happy, but all he felt was pain mixed with a whole heapin’ helpin’ of dick-hardenin’ lust. He wouldn’t give any thought to the love that filled him, though. Nope. It didn’t pay well enough to go there.
The truck was on him before he ever heard it comin’. Shit.
“You’re being an ass, Jared,” Bryson yelled out the window. “Get in the truck.”
“Go to hell,” he yelled back.
“Been there for the last three fuckin’ months, thank you. Get in the goddamn truck. It’s cold, and we need to talk.”
Jared kept walking, and Bryson kept inching along. Ten feet turned into fifteen turned into twenty before Jared stopped. He bent forward, his hands on his knees, and took a few deep breaths, willing his heart to stop racing. He never expected anyone to follow him, least of all Bryson. He also never expected to be walking halfway back to the ranch in winter.
He stood to his full height to find Bry in front of him. Blue fire lit his eyes, and that tic in his jaw was going a mile a minute. Bry was pissed. Good. Jared had been pissed for ninety-three days, not that he was counting or anything.
“What the hell is the matter with you?”
“Me? What’s the matter with me? What are you doin’ showin’ up at my party? I don’t remember inviting you. And not only do you come, but you bring him.” He spat the word out like it disgusted him, but the reality of it was, the two men had been a welcome sight for his bloodshot and tired eyes.
“What was I supposed to do? Leave him at home? How nice. Jesus, Jared. You’re the one who brought him into our lives. You love him as much as I do. You want him as much as I do, so don’t go acting all self-righteous about it. For months you’ve been rejecting the both of us, denying all of us.”
“You and he share a bed. What do—”
“A little jealous, J?” Bryson quipped, interrupting Jared's words. “Doesn’t become you. But yeah, we share a bed. You want some details? You and I used to share a bed too. Get off it, man. You’re not fooling anyone but yourself.”
Jealous? Hell yes he was jealous. But not a little jealous. A whole damn lot jealous. There were other things he felt too, like scared and angry and left out and…left. “Fuck off.”
“I’d rather fuck you.”
Jared stood in stunned silence at Bryson’s frankness. He was usually more subtle. Shock hit him in the face a second before Bry’s fist clocked him. He stumbled backward and reached out to grab the side of the truck bed to keep from falling. “What’d you do that for?” he asked, swiping the back of his hand across his mouth, drawing blood along with it.
“You deserved it and a lot more besides.”
“Why? I didn’t do anything to you.” Surprise lit Bryson’s face, and Jared wished he could call the words back. He’d done plenty and didn’t want to be reminded word for word. He spent enough time alone these days, beating himself up over demanding that Bryson leave and take Walt with him.
“You’ve been an ass. For three goddamn months, you’ve been an ass. I didn’t bring Walt to the party. We came together as a couple. That make you happier? He’ll be along shortly too, if I don’t return soon.”
“Well, don’t let me stop you from leaving me the hell alone.”
“C’mon, J. It’s your birthday. Can’t we just put all this aside for one night and have fun together?”
“There is no together. And why will he be along soon? He not trust you?”
“God, stop being such a brat. He trusts me just fine, but he’s worried about you, and he’ll be worried about me.”
“Worried about me? Didn’t look like that from where I stood.”
“Maybe because you were too busy lookin’ for a reason to storm out.”
Jared wouldn’t, couldn’t let Bry know he was right. “Bullshit.”
“Yeah, it is. We done? I have some place else to be.” Jared started to move, but Bryson grabbed Jared’s arm, effectively stopping Jared’s progress. “Let. Go,” he ground out.
Bryson tightened his grip. “No. You’re not runnin’ away from this again. From me. We’re gonna settle it.”
“There’s nothin’ to settle.”
“Uh-huh. Try tellin’ that to someone who doesn’t know you as well as I do. Where is it you have to be?”
Jared clenched his jaw tight. “Anywhere that’s away from you.”
“Tough, asshole. I’m not leavin’. Neither are you. You have to stop fightin’ this.”
“I’m not fighting. You’re the one who hit me.”
“Now you’re just playin’ dumb.” Bryson attempted to pull Jared closer. “You can’t make all the rules and expect everyone but you to follow them.”
Jared wrenched his arm free and stepped out of reach. “I don’t make the rules because there are none. There’s no us either.” Not because he didn’t want there to be, though. God, he missed the man standing in front of him. He missed the big Indian back at the bar too. He missed the way they had been, all of them, when it was working, when they could laugh and joke and sit around together as friends and go to bed as lovers. He fuckin’ missed everything about the way it was before he got scared and jealous. He just didn’t know how to fix it.
“You tried that before, remember? When we left home and you didn’t think there could be an us? I proved you wrong before. I’ll prove you wrong again.”
“It’s true this time.”
“The hell it is! Just because you think you won when Walt and I left, giving you what you said you wanted, doesn’t mean there’s not an us. There will always be an us, J. We both know that, and you’ll come around.”
“No, I won’t.” He heard the petulant tone in his voice when he spoke, but he was afraid Bryson was right. Again. He hated Bry being right about everything all the damn time.
He stared hard, daring the other man to hold the glare. Bry did until Jared gave in. He dropped his gaze and shook his head. He told himself he wouldn’t stomp as he turned away. He would walk heavily, but he sure as shit wouldn’t stomp. One foot in front of the other. That’s all he needed to do. If he concentrated hard enough on that, he could make it down the road. Bryson would get the hint and go back the way he came, back to Jared’s birthday party.
He hated being brokenhearted. He hated being left out in the cold too. At least, figuratively. Even though he’d done it to himself and forced it on all of them… God. It all just fucking sucked. He didn’t want to go home without Bryson. It hadn’t really even been home since, as Bryson said, he and Walt gave Jared what he wanted when he asked them to leave. It was a house. Four outside walls. Without the laughter and talking and planning a future for the ranch and for themselves, four outside walls was all it was. There was no heart, no warmth, no pleasure.
Boy, he’d screwed up. He’d given them a choice, an ultimatum. Either they leave or he would. It seemed so simple at the time, like the right thing to do. If he didn’t have to see them together, his heart wouldn’t hurt.
It wasn’t the first time he’d been wrong.
“Jared,” Bryson called after him, his voice carrying on the howling wind.
Jared waved him off and kept on walking. He heard the slam of the truck door and the engine crank. Good. Bryson was leaving, and Jared could get home in peace, drink the six-pack in the fridge, and wish himself a happy birthday in classic style.
Bryson pulled up alongside him again. “At least take the truck, J. It’s stupid for me to drive it back to the bar when you’ll have to walk all the way back to get it tomorrow.”
“You shouldn’t even be driving my truck.”
“God, you’re such a pigheaded ass.”
Jared grinned, though he was sure it wasn’t a good one. “Takes one. I’m done talking.”
“See me, Bry? I’m walking away. You should do the same.”
“You are such a…” Bryson growled and slammed his hand against the steering wheel. “Fine, asshole. But this isn’t over. I’ll be by later to finish it.”
Bryson gunned the motor, spinning the wheels in the snow that was beginning to fall. Wetness kicked up in Jared’s face before he could turn his head. He lifted his hand as a shield and just caught the taillights as they disappeared around the bend in the road up ahead.
“Good riddance,” Jared muttered as he pulled up the collar of his coat against the biting cold. The flannel lining with the denim layer on top helped keep some of the biting cold away from his skin. The hat on his head kept the snow from getting to him. Of course, it didn’t hurt that he was walking hard and fast toward home.
It was one thing seeing Bryson, but he could have done without seeing Walt. Shit, the truth of it was, seeing both men had been wonderful. He’d felt it in his gut and his dick. The way he’d hardened within seconds of them walking through the door and making a beeline for him… He hadn’t felt that kind of blinding arousal in so damn long. They were the only two men he’d loved in his thirty-year existence. One from his past and one from his present. Only thing was, they were now together and he was alone.
Bryson and Walt had locked eyes once, and that was all she wrote. It was love at first sight. Even a blind man could have seen it. That same blind man could have seen that Jared had been in love with Bryson since they were twelve years old.
The wrongest wrong thing in all this was how Jared had acted in the end. He was fine with Bryson and Walt loving each other. He was fine with himself and Walt loving each other. He didn’t have a problem with anything they did alone or together. They’d all been in sync with sex, with the ranch, with living together from the get-go. It had been so perfect in a way that made him hurt to think about now.
That’s what didn’t make sense to Jared. Everything worked. Everything meshed. Yeah, they’d had a few arguments, but nothing a little yelling and cocksucking couldn’t fix. He couldn’t understand what had spooked him.
No, that wasn’t true. What had spooked him was a dream. A stupid fucking dream that had woken him in a cold sweat but had left his lovers sleeping. He hadn’t been able to shake the feeling of unease, and every time he saw Bryson and Walt together—and it didn’t matter if it was in conversation or having sex—Jared’s gut twisted in fear, and all he could think about was that maybe the dream had been right. Maybe they really didn’t want him as much as he wanted them. Maybe they really would turn their backs on him the way his father had years ago back home when Jared had come out of the closet.
He had no idea what triggered the dream and no idea what made it hard for him to shake it, but it festered inside him until one night he exploded and demanded Bryson and Walt leave.
“This is so not how someone should spend their thirtieth birthday,” he grumbled at the ground. He looked up through the blowing snow. A few miles more and he’d be at the gate of the ranch.
He’d done his best to keep from seeing the two men on a day-to-day basis since that awful night. He’d created a situation that was eerily similar to how things had been with his father after the fiasco of being honest with the old man. A fistfight—their first but not their last—had ensued. Arguments and brawls kept coming his way until Jared moved out to the bunkhouse with his father’s ranch hands. They’d all kind of looked at him sideways and kept their distance. As soon as he graduated high school, he’d packed what he could carry and hauled ass. His father hadn’t been sad to see him go, and Jared hadn't let anyone, especially his father, know how deeply that had hurt.
He thought he’d be leaving alone back then, but Bryson had met him at the end of the long dirt drive with the words, “Where you go, I go.” It’d been that way for over ten years. The difference between then and now, though, was that he hadn’t been the one who'd left.
Shit. He never thought he’d be in this predicament. It was of his own making, but that didn’t mean it was any easier to take. He and Bry might each own half the ranch, and Walt might be their foreman, and they might put up a good front of being in sync when it came to running the property, but that was as far as it went now. At least for him. He slept in the main house alone, and they had taken to sleeping in a cabin on the southeastern ridge. Some of the cattle grazed down there, but mostly it was open range for the horses, Walt’s specialty.
Jared had toyed with the idea of selling them his share of the ranch and going his own way, but Bryson’s words from so long ago always kept him in place. “Where you go, I go.” Truth of the matter was that he’d rather be near them in this amazing piece of the country than anywhere else.
He and Bry had saved every penny they’d ever earned to get as far away from their hometown as possible. Montana was where they’d set their sights. Beautiful, wild, open. It was everything they’d dreamed it would be. They’d grown up as the best of friends, just as their fathers had. Then one night after a ball game, they were walking home, and their hands had accidentally brushed. He’d looked over at Bry, and Bry’d looked back at him. Their fingers had intertwined as if of their own accord, and when Bry’d whispered, “Okay,” and squeezed Jared’s hand, Jared had known then that things had changed forever.
They’d always been inseparable before, but from that night forward, it was different. Jared tried to pretend things were the same, even when they left home. It took Bryson planting a heck of a kiss on Jared’s lips the second they crossed the border into Texas to make him see the truth. It was their first kiss, and Jared couldn’t deny his feelings any longer. He was free to feel them, free to explore them, free to love Bryson.
Back home they’d had to take care how they acted toward each other, but once they reached Montana, they never did. They didn’t publicize the fact that they were gay, but they didn’t go to great lengths to hide it. The only person to ever pick up on it or come right out and ask was Walt.
“Shit.” He needed to stop thinking about the past and try to figure out what to do about his present and future. Though, he had no clue what he wanted to do because all he could think about was the two men he wanted in his bed again.
He rounded the bend in the road where Bry’s taillights had disappeared some time ago. Give or take a couple of hundred yards, and he walked through the entrance to the J Double B Ranch. They hadn’t been able to decide whose initial would grace their new home. In the end, they’d settled on both, earning odd looks and reluctant nods from the bank and the real estate agent.
Jared kicked up the snow that was steadily falling and starting to pile up along the dirt path. He’d need a hot shower when he got inside the house to ward off the bone-deep chill that no amount of layers could keep away. It wouldn’t take long to drink himself into a stupor and fall asleep. The sooner the better, to his way of thinking.
His sprawling one-level, U-shaped house came into view with its long wraparound porch disappearing around the sides. For the first time since Bry and Walt had walked into the bar together earlier, he smiled. He was home. Or at least, he was partially home. His other home, the one he’d found in Bry’s arms, was no longer his.
The smile faded as quickly as it had appeared. Jared stomped onto the porch and inside through the never locked door. He slammed it behind him, feeling a very small bit of satisfaction when all the windows along the front of the house rattled.
The first beer was procured from the fridge on his way to his room and a shower. With any luck, he’d be drunk before his hair dried.
Copyright © Lissa Matthews