Happy Monday, friends! I’m posting the short story I wrote for the ManLove Winter Fantasies Contest on my blog as a thank you to all of you who are supporting my new website, www.skyemichaelsbooks.com
Below is the picture that was the inspiration for the stories in the contest. This is a Male/Male story and all might not be interested. I hope you will give it a try and enjoy it. If you like Manlove/Gay stories please check out my Wilton Park Grand Hotel series. Don’t forget to enter the Free Book Giveaway contest on my blog, and please follow me @skyemichaels on Twitter!
MANLOVE WINTER FANTASY SHORT STORY – 2016
By: Skye Michaels
Genre: Erotic Romance/M/M
The Training Barn, Cool Waters Creek Farm, Leipers Fork, Tennessee, early Tuesday morning, January 5, 2016
Randy Cassidy pulled his vet truck up in front of the training barn at Cool Waters Creek Farm. The Tennessee morning was bright although there had been a light sprinkling of snow the night before. It still frosted the fall foliage that had long since fallen from the trees and littered the ground in a carpet of brown, crinkly leaves. There was a slight tinge of wood smoke in the air. Randy’s breath froze in a mist as it exited his mouth. He pulled the hood of his jacket over his close-cropped brown hair as he exited the truck. Hell. It’s damn cold this morning.
Randy enjoyed his stall calls at Cool Waters which was located about six miles outside the tiny village of Leipers Fork on a winding country road. The property boasted neat, white four-board fences along the borders of the now frost bitten pastures and several bright red and white trimmed barns. The farm specialized in breeding and training western sport horses for use in reining, roping and cutting competition. The farm staff was pleasant although he rarely saw the actual owner of the property, Brent Roston, a music executive in Nashville who travelled extensively.
Randy had to admit that Roston’s possible presence at the farm when he made a stop there gave his stomach a slight wrench of excitement. The man was gorgeous—tall and ripped with a deep honey complexion, short dark hair, and ruthlessly trimmed short beard. He had a commanding presence. Randy had heard that Roston was retired military and a decorated veteran although he was not known to talk about that part of his life.
The contemporary main house was on the other side of a small hill and not visible from the barns or the road. Tall naked-limbed maple and oak trees flanked the house, and a bubbling creek ran down the hill. Randy had attended the Cool Waters Christmas party there the month before. He had been impressed by the floor to ceiling glass walls that reflected the huge Christmas tree and the roaring fire in the fireplace of the family room where the party was set up. But most impressive was the heated in-door swimming pool and Jacuzzi tub housed in a plant-filled glass atrium behind the house. On a cold morning like this, that would be sheer luxury.
The barn manager, Mindy Hancock, greeted Randy at the truck as he was opening the sides to reveal his traveling veterinary clinic. “Hey, Doc. Happy New Year. It’s a cold one today.”
“That it is. I always love it when we get some snow, even if it won’t last much past mid-day. What do you have for me today?”
“Just some vaccinations and Coggins tests for a couple new cutting horses that came in last weekend. Everyone is healthy and we have no problems at the moment, thank heavens.”
“That’s good. I like to hear that everyone is healthy. Is the boss around today? I wanted to thank him for the invitation to your Christmas party.”
“Yeah. He’s actually here, but I believe he has to run into Nashville later this afternoon. I think he was going to work Donatello this morning—you know that black bay gelding that was dropped off in our front pasture last August. Obviously, someone couldn’t afford to feed him anymore.”
“That’s sad, but I’m glad he ended up with a good home. I examined him when he first got here. He wasn’t in too bad shape, all things considered.”
“I don’t know what it was, but he and Brent bonded in about a New York minute that first day. You should stick around if you don’t have any emergencies this morning and watch the boss ride him. They are quite a sight.”
Randy’s stomach gave a bounce at the thought of watching Brent Roston work the big, black horse that had been underweight and sad looking when he’d been found abandoned in the Cool Waters front pasture. The last time Randy had seen Donatello out in pasture he had looked like a black marble statue with his long mane and tail blowing in the wind. His nostrils had been flared as he tasted the wind, and he had looked like the king of his pasture. He had definitely fallen into a good situation, and that made Randy’s soft heart clench. He was known to have rescued more than his fair share of abandoned animals. Since he was on the road all day, he usually quickly found good homes for them, except for Lucy, the Pitbull that rode shotgun with him on his rounds. She had been mistreated, and it took some time and work to gain her trust. Now she was his constant companion. It was good to have a scary-looking dog in the front seat with him. Some of his stops were out in really back-woods areas. He grinned to himself as the Deliverance banjo theme played in his head. No one had to know that Lucy was the sweetest, most gentle dog in the world. That was their secret. He had left her snuggled up on an old blanket in the front seat of his truck. Some folks were afraid of Pitbulls, and honestly, sometimes not without good reason. Lucy was definitely an exception.
Randy loved his job as a large animal vet with a prestigious equine veterinary clinic in Franklin. He was out and about all day, and often all night, if the situation warranted it. Horses rarely picked a convenient time to colic and liked to deliver foals in the privacy of the night.
Randy got busy preparing syringes and blood vials for the standard test for Equine Infectious Anemia as Mindy pulled the new horses into the barn and secured them in cross-ties in the center aisle. He quickly and efficiently prepped the horses, administered the shots and drew the blood required for the Coggins tests. This was the most routine of his work. Sometimes it got a lot more exciting. He was glad that wasn’t the case today. He really would love to watch Brent Roston ride Donatello.
Brent Roston walked down to the training barn from the house. He had a steaming cup of coffee in his hand. He stopped and watched the young vet as he competently handled the routine tasks. Randy Cassidy was guilty of no wasted motion. If truth be told, he moved like a dancer. He was tall and slender with a sleekly muscled body. Brent shook himself. Get a grip, man. Although the vet had attended his Christmas party solo, Brent wasn’t sure what his situation actually was, other than that he was obviously gay. Brent knew he would like to find out. He had been impressed by Randy’s calm and gentle handling of Donatello that morning last summer when the big black horse had been found in the front pasture. Brent’s slightly war-damaged heart had gone out to the poor horse who had been scared, hungry and in need of new shoes and some TLC. It had taken the two of them to corner him and get a halter on him so that he could be brought into the barn for a vet check. One look into those big, brown, terrified eyes and Brent had been a goner. There was no way that horse was leaving this farm. Although he had made half-hearted inquires to find out who owned the big guy, he had been glad not to find out. Donatello was his. As he had become comfortable at the farm and gained weight and muscle, they had begun some reining work. Donatello had proven to be agile and a quick learner, and Brent was hoping to begin showing him in the spring.
Brent watched Randy for a few minutes before he entered the barn. He stepped up and offered his hand. “Good morning, Randy. Have everything you need? Did Mindy offer you a cup of coffee?”
Randy stripped off his silicon glove and took Brent’s hand. Randy’s long-fingered hand was warm and callused—a working man’s hand. “I wouldn’t mind a cup. It’s damn cold out here this morning.”
Mindy turned to the tack room at the south end of the barn. “I’ll get you a cup, Doc.” She walked away, leaving them alone as Randy labeled and packed up the blood samples. That girl had instincts. Brent really wanted a few minutes alone with the beautiful man in the denim jacket and jeans. His hood had fallen back and revealed a face that was a combination of high cheek bones, dark winged brows, and a mouth that was just perfect for kissing. Brent really did have to put a lid on that thinking, at least for the time being. He needed to know more about Randy Cassidy.
Mindy returned with Randy’s cup of coffee. “Shall I get Donatello tacked up, boss?”
“Yes, thanks Mindy. I have to drive into Nashville this afternoon so I need to get a move on.” Mindy handed off the two new horses to a groom and then pulled Donatello from his stall. He and Randy watched Mindy groom and tack him up. “He’s really coming along. I’m very pleased.” Brent stepped up to the big horse’s head, patted his neck, and scratched his withers and behind his ears. Donatello nickered and laid his head on Brent’s shoulder, and Brent could feel all the tension drain from his body. As the saying went, there was something about the outside of a horse that was good for the inside of a person. When he’d come back from Afghanistan, the horses had been what saved his sanity.
Randy watched the interaction between the big man and the horse and smiled. It was obvious that these two were a team. Brent swung up into the big, elegantly tooled, silver studded Western saddle and walked the horse out to the large covered arena behind the barn. He began a warm-up routine of walk, trot and lope down the long sides of the arena before he worked into some circles and serpentines. Brent had a natural, supple seat that was balanced in the saddle by his long muscular legs. When the horse and rider were warmed up Brent began to ride a reining routine. Donatello responded to Brent’s subtle cues, turning around his leg with an admirable show of precision. After a few minutes, the perfect, sharply-etched pattern of their ride could be seen in the neatly raked, smooth sand of the arena. Randy was impressed. For a business suit type, Brent knew his way around a horse.
After a half hour workout, Brent dismounted and turned Donatello over to Mindy. “Would you cool him down and put him up for me please? I’d like to talk to the Doc for a few minutes.”
“Happy to boss.”
“Come on into the tack room, Randy, and I’ll get you another cup of coffee.” Randy followed Brent into the barn and down the central aisle to the end. Brent closed the door to the tack room. Randy looked around at the well-worn but comfortable leather chairs and sofas gathered around the heavy, wood stump coffee table. The collection of western prints on the walls interspersed between the bronze riding trophies was impressive. Brent took Randy’s cup and refilled it with fresh coffee. There was a bean grinder on the counter next to the coffee pot. Everything on this farm was first class. It all made Randy just a little nervous. Randy hadn’t grown up poor, but he didn’t come from money either. “Have a seat, Doc—Randy.”
Brent smiled at him, and Randy had to wonder what was up. He usually didn’t hang around and socialize with the owners of the horses he treated. “I wanted to thank you for the invitation to the farm holiday party. I had a great time.”
“Really? I thought you left early. I was hoping to have a few minutes to talk.”
“Uhhh. I did have to leave early. McMasters’ Warmblood mare was having trouble with her labor. The foal was in breach position.”
“Sorry to hear that. Did it turn out okay?”
“Yeah. Everything was fine. She wasn’t too far along, and I was able to turn the foal.” They were both silent for a moment. If the delivery stall hadn’t been under video supervision, both mare and foal could have been lost.
“So, Randy…I was wondering if you, uhhh, were currently in a relationship. Are you seeing anyone?”
Randy was stunned. This was not what he had expected the handsome Music City Exec had wanted to talk to him about. If he was honest, he’d had a few hot fantasies about Brent Roston over the last year. He just had not thought to ever hear that particular question. “No. I’m not seeing anyone. As you can imagine, there isn’t a big gay population in Franklin, Tennessee. I moved here for a job after Vet School at the University of Florida. Actually, I don’t know how many people know that I’m gay. I’m not in the closet or anything, but I don’t broadcast it either.”
“I can understand that. Nashville is a little more open, but my sexual preferences are not something that I openly discuss either. My bi-sexuality certainly wasn’t a topic of conversation when I was in the Army either.”
“I guess it wouldn’t be.”
“So, would you like to have dinner with me some night in Nashville? Maybe we can take in a show.”
“Ummm. That would be nice. I’d like that.”
“How about next weekend? I’ll see who’s in town.”
“Great.” Brent stood up and extended his hand down to Randy. He pulled him up and into his arms. Brent brought his mouth down on Randy’s, tentatively at first, and then with authority. Randy moaned. He’d dreamed of this more than a few times, and he couldn’t believe it was actually happening. Brent’s hands slid down over his back, around and under his flannel plaid shirt and up over his abs. Randy’s heart was pounding a mile a minute.
Brent pulled back. “I know you have to get on with your rounds. I’ll call you. Maybe we can get together before the weekend. I think there’s going to be some kind of event at Puckett’s on Thursday. I like to keep up with who shows up there to jam. You never know when you’re going to discover the next hot country star, and I could do with some barbeque and beer.”
“That sounds good.”
Brent pulled him in for one more fast, hot kiss and let him go. “Have a good day, Doc.”
“You, too, Music Man.”
Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant, Leipers Fork, Tennessee, Thursday evening, January 7, 2016
Randy had driven out from Franklin to meet Brent at Puckett’s, a rowdy and fun country bar and restaurant that had live music most nights. Brent looked fabulous in worn black jeans, a black turtleneck sweater under a well-worn black leather jacket, and cowboy boots. Just the sight of him made Randy’s mouth water. Obviously, it had been too long since he’d had any meaningful companionship. “It’s crowded tonight. You never know who is going to be at Puckett’s.” They pushed through the door and found an empty table up against the wall. There were five musicians up on the makeshift stage playing a lively number. Randy turned to Brent and said, “Do you know any of those guys?”
“Yeah. I know the drummer, and the guitar on the end, Eddy Angel. The other three are backup guys who make the rounds of the studios in Nashville.”
After the band had played several numbers, they were joined by a petite blonde girl who picked up an acoustic guitar and started to sing Greensleeves, an old folk classic. Her voice was clear and sweet with a slightly smoky undertone. Randy could see Brent’s interest pick up considerably. By the girl’s third song, he was really paying attention. When she left the stage, he got up and followed her to a table in the back of the room and sat down with her and her friends. Randy could see Brent entering the girl’s contact info into his cell phone and making some notes. What was that about? He knew Brent was bi-sexual. He shook himself. He didn’t want to go down the jealous road again. That poisonous emotion had ruined his one serious relationship.
When Brent rejoined Randy he said, “I’m going to get her an audition with my company. I think she has some real potential. She needs to build her catalog of material and get some polish, but the raw talent is there.”
“That’s nice. Are you always on the lookout for new talent?”
“Always. You never know when you are going to stumble on the next best thing in your life. Like when your vet truck rolled into my barnyard the first time.”
Randy was stunned. He hadn’t known that Brent had been interested in him that long. He knew he certainly had been interested in Brent. “Uhhh. That’s flattering. I had no idea.”
“How about if we get something to eat and then go back to my place?”
After they had downed another beer and some first-class barbeque, Randy followed Brent down the twisting country road back to Cool Waters Creek Farm. Warm and welcoming light poured from the big glass house. Brent parked his Porsche Cayenne in front of the portico, and Randy pulled his truck up behind. Brent walked to the truck, opened his door, and pulled him out onto the driveway. Brent took Randy in his arms for the hot and heavy kiss he had been anticipating all night. They walked to the door together. “How about we try out the Jacuzzi? I could use a little time to relax. How about you?”
“That sounds like heaven.” Randy was thinking that he’d like another taste of Brent. Getting naked in the Jacuzzi with the big man sounded like just the ticket. That kiss had been just a teaser.
Clothes were dropped along the route back to the glass atrium, and by the time they were standing next to the eight-seat Jacuzzi, they were both naked. Randy noted Brent’s rather intimidating hard-on with a tremulous smile. He’d known the big guy was built, but he hadn’t quite fully appreciated his attributes. A sizzle of anticipation coasted down his spine as Brent stepped into the spa and put out his big hand to help Randy. “Come here, babe.”
Brent watched as the hot water bubbled and steam rose from the surface slightly veiling Randy’s body. He had been waiting for this moment all day. Brent didn’t think he had the will to be patient. His body urged him to rush ahead to the prize, but that wouldn’t be fair to Randy. Brent wanted their first time together to be special. He had a feeling this man was going to be someone important in his life, and he didn’t want to fuck it up by being overeager. He forced himself to sink down beneath the water and relax. He watched as Randy’s sculpted body was swallowed beneath the turbulent surface. Brent handed Randy a beer he had pulled from the convenient cooler. Randy relaxed and took a swallow of the cold brew. Brent could see the day’s tension and weariness drain from him. Brent’s eyes drifted closed in appreciation of the hot water surrounding his body, and he waited for Randy to fully relax.
When they had both mellowed out, Brent reached over and pulled Randy into his lap, letting his hand drift down over the sleek, wet muscles of Randy’s arm and up his back. God, he wanted to feel this man surround his painful hard-on with his wet heat. Brent’s mouth closed over Randy’s and swallowed the groan that rose from his throat. His lips coasted down Randy’s neck and over his shoulder. Brent slid his hand down and cupped Randy’s cock and balls. For a slender guy, he was well-endowed. When Randy began to writhe in anticipation, Brent inserted a finger in his back hole and began to scissor and stretch his anal muscles. After a few minutes of play, Brent gloved both of their cocks in condoms. He stood behind Randy to insert peg A into slot B, and the hot, tight fit of their bodies rocked his world.
Randy gasped at the quick, hard insertion into his back door. His nerves came alive. He was sitting in Brent’s lap facing away with his head tipped back against Brent’s shoulder. Brent waited a minute for Randy’s muscles to stretch and accommodate his huge member before he began to slide in and out. Randy thought his head was going to rocket off his shoulders as the sensations slammed through his body. Granted, he didn’t have all that much experience, but he had never felt a physical or emotional feeling so intense, so raw. He thought he could feel his heart bonding with Brent’s.
Brent ramped up his strokes and drove them both over the edge. Randy thought he might have lost consciousness for a moment. As the dark, sparkling dots behind his eyelids began to recede, Brent’s strong arms surrounded him, and the sensation of homecoming wrapped his heart in love.
Tennessee Livestock Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Saturday afternoon, April 30, 2016
Randy sat in the bleachers of the arena waiting for Brent and Donatello to make their entrance for their freestyle reining ride. The cowboy equivalent of the more formal European-style dressage was a popular event. The sound of the spectators bounced off the high, metal ceiling of the arena and surrounded Randy with a cacophony of noise. Donatello’s first reining competition was about to begin, and Randy knew how important it was to Brent. He hoped the loud carnival atmosphere would not spook the somewhat green horse. Although Brent had tried to research the horse’s history, he had not been able to find out where he had been before ending up abandoned in the farm’s front pasture. As Donatello had gained weight and muscled up, his quarter horse confirmation became more apparent.
Although Randy had not given up his top floor apartment in an old house in Franklin, he now spent most of his free time at Cool Waters Creek Farm. His relationship with Brent had blossomed, and he hoped it was on the way to becoming permanent. Even Lucy had settled in at the farm, and she and Donatello had become buddies. This show was only the first step in Donatello’s career, but Brent felt that the black horse had what it took to go all the way to the Reining Cup—not this year, but soon.
Brent and Donatello stood in the center of the arena floor as the music swelled around them. The routine that Brent and Donatello had been working on for months unfolded before the crowd as they went fluidly into the pattern of walk, trot, and lope, with circles, changes of direction, and backups, bursting into gallop and halting with slide stops as the music flawlessly followed their movements. By the time the ride was finished, Randy had tears in his eyes and his throat was swollen shut by emotion. He was as proud of the team as anyone could be. Their score of two hundred points for the four minute ride to an instrumental version of Rhinestone Cowboy was more than respectable, but first place was not in the cards this first time. As it turned out, Brent and Donatello had earned a very respectable red second place ribbon. Randy knew Brent had great hopes that the next time out they would be bringing home the blue ribbon and a trophy to add to the collection in the tack room.
Randy met them at the gate and walked back to Donatello’s temporary stall. “You guys did great. I can’t wait for the next show. Unfortunately, I can’t get that tune out of my head.”
“We’re getting there. I just wish I had more info on Don’s background. I feel like a shadow is looming over my shoulder.”
They were approached by a reporter from Western Rider for photographs and a comment. Donatello’s murky history had made the rounds of the show, and everyone was interested in the hard-luck horse that had burst upon the scene. The farm’s reputation for breeding and training western work and sport horses and Brent’s career in Music City were also well known and added to the mystique. Brent and Donatello posed for the standard photo with show ribbon in hand.
The reporter said, “What can you tell me about this horse? There are a lot of rumors circulating around the show grounds.”
“Donatello is a great horse, and I think he has a good chance to really advance in the ranks. I wish I knew more about his breeding and history. But some things are destined to stay a mystery. As most people already know, Donatello was abandoned at my farm last summer, and I haven’t been able to get more information about him.”
Brent and Randy loaded Donatello into the horse trailer for the trip back home. Lucy jumped into the back seat and Randy sat beside him on the front seat of the truck. He had his little family gathered around him, and he was as content and satisfied with his life as he had ever been. He’d had a hard time adjusting to civilian life after his return from Afghanistan. Some of the things he had seen there and the friends he had lost refused to fade from his memory, and occasionally he found himself drifting back to that time. Having Randy in his life had made it easier and those troubling episodes less frequent. Life was good.
The kitchen of the main house, Cool Waters Creek Farm, Leipers Fork, Tennessee, early Monday evening, May 30, 2016
Brent had picked up the mail at the end of the driveway on his way home from work. The traffic out of Nashville was a killer at rush hour. He was ready to put up his feet, have a beer, and read the latest issue of Western Rider that had just arrived in the mail. He knew the results of the Murfreesboro show he and Donatello had competed in would be covered in this issue. He grabbed a beer from the refrigerator, kicked his shoes off, and sat down at the long farm table in the kitchen before he flipped to the show results page. He admired the picture of himself and Donatello holding their second place ribbon and read the accompanying article. It was complimentary, and Donatello’s story had been covered with sensitivity. Brent looked up as Randy walked into the kitchen. “Grab a beer and look at this article in the new Western Rider.”
“Huh. Now I’m going to have to put up with both of you being stars.”
“Not yet. But soon. Want me to grill a couple steaks for dinner?”
“Sounds good. I’ll make a salad and bake some potatoes.”
After he put the steaks on, Brent thumbed through the remainder of the mail. A certified mail envelope caught his attention, and he ripped it open. He noted the letterhead and the Kentucky address. He read the entire letter twice before he said, “Holy shit! Someone saw Don’s picture from the show. They claim that he was stolen from their farm when he was a colt, and they want him back.”
“What? How can they know it’s the same horse? Let me see the letter.”
“They say he’s a carbon copy of his sire, a champion cutting horse named Rambo’s Revenge. They’ve enclosed a picture of the purported sire, and I have to say there is a resemblance.”
“Crap. All black horses look alike. That doesn’t mean anything. What proof do they have? Do they know who stole him or where he’s been since then?”
Brent had been hoping for some quality time in the Jacuzzi and an early night, but that didn’t look like it was going to happen. This was a nightmare. Brent didn’t know what he was going to do, but turning Donatello over to someone else was out of the question.
Randy glanced through the letter and said, “My first response would be to demand DNA testing of Donatello against the sire and dam. Then there wouldn’t be any question.”
“What if it proves he’s the same horse?”
“Well, then at least you would know the truth and could proceed legally from there.”
“That’s a good idea. I’ll call Tom Barnstable tomorrow morning and let him respond to the letter with our demand for DNA testing.” Brent would be calling his attorney first thing in the morning. He didn’t think he would be sleeping very well tonight. He and Donatello had been kindred spirits from the get go. He wasn’t about to let him slip though his fingers now.
A week later they had a response from the farm in Kentucky saying that they would submit the dam and sire to DNA testing and telling Brent to make arrangement for a veterinarian of his choice to draw the blood for the test. They would do the same with Donatello. That sounded fair to Brent, but his heart was in his throat just the same.
Randy made arrangements with a veterinarian from a Louisville firm that was affiliated with his office to draw the blood and submit it to a lab for testing. In the meantime, a vet from a Nashville office chosen by the people in Kentucky visited the farm and drew Donatello’s blood to be submitted to the same lab. Brent and Randy, as well as the entire farm, were on pins and needles awaiting the results. It would probably take several weeks to get the results although Brent had paid for expedited service. The day to day life of the farm went on, but everyone was on edge. The only parties not affected by the turmoil were Donatello and Lucy.
The atrium of the main house, Cool Waters Creek Farm, Leipers Fork, Tennessee, early Monday evening, June 13, 2016
Randy shook his hair back from his face and wiped the water out of his eyes as Brent walked through the door into the atrium. He had taken the opportunity for a swim in the heated pool. It was still a little cool for outdoor swimming, but the pool was as warm as a womb.
Brent held a Manilla envelope in one hand and two beers in the other. He put the envelope and the beer bottles on a table next to the pool before he walked straight into the pool in his business suit and shoes. Randy gasped. “What are you doing, you crazy man?”
“I’m celebrating. The results of the DNA tests are in that envelope. Donatello is not their horse, and he’s not going anywhere.”
“That’s the best news, Brent. I’ve been so worried.”
“Me, too.” Brent picked him up and spun him around until they were both dizzy before he covered his mouth with a hot kiss. “Baby, I’ve been so worried, but that’s over. It’s time for us to make this little family permanent and start our lives together. What do you say?”
“I say that’s a dream come true, Music Man. Our little Cool Waters family is safe and secure.”
Lucy, who had been curled up on a chaise lounge beside the pool began barking to signify her agreement.
Some pictures from Leipers Fork, Tennessee