And now a sip!
Blurb: Zane Ashford’s stint in the NYPD comes to an abrupt halt when he is injured in the line of duty. After waking up partially blind in one eye, all he wants to do is crawl into a hole, but his friends and family won’t leave him alone. Reluctantly, he lets his best friend talk him into time away on a ranch in Montana. But the moment he gets there and meets Cyrus Abrams, Zane begins to contemplate murder.
Cyrus Abrams is vulgar, ornery, stuck in his ways, and not about to change for anyone, no matter how good Zane Ashford looks in those jeans. The more they lock horns, the more Cyrus begins to see Zane in a whole new light. But Cyrus has a past, one that left him in big trouble and more broken than he cares to admit—a past no one told Zane about. Cyrus fears that when Zane finds out, everything will come to a screeching halt.
Zane tilted his neck to one side, then the other to work the kinks out. It was well past lunchtime, and he hadn’t gotten nearly as much work as he’d wanted done. Every time he tried drawing, he merely wound up ripping the page out, crumpling it, and tossing it to the side. When he lifted his head, he had a pile going and his rough draft book was almost empty of all the unused pages. He frowned, glanced at his cell, and took a breath. Renford had tried calling him back, but Zane wouldn’t pick up, and after an hour, Renford probably got the idea.
Still, Zane left his drawings and changed into a pair of track pants. He stuck his iPod earbuds into his ears and made his way to the side of the guesthouse. Though he wouldn’t go for another run, boxing always gave him room to think.
With no partner, he settled for shadow kickboxing. The mix Renford got him a year before to work out to blasted in his head, from Tegan and Sarah featuring Tiesto, to a remix of Mohombi’s “Bumpy Ride.” Soon he had a nice sweat going, his heart rate picked up, and the arousal he’d been fighting all day went away. Maybe the day wouldn’t be such a giant waste after all.
Someone tapped Zane lightly on the shoulder. “Hey, Zane… damn.”
Zane jerked away and spun his body in a slight roundhouse. He stopped himself just as his foot was inches from Cyrus’s face. Taking a breath, trying to calm his heaving shoulders and racing heart, he lowered his foot to the ground and pulled the earbuds out. “What?”
Cyrus stepped back and flashed a Cheshire cat grin. He rubbed his hand over his close-cut gray curls, his blue eyes bulged, and he moistened his thin lips. “I said if you want someone to take out the aggression on, I’m your man.”
“I’m not your type, remember?” Zane asked, returning to his jabs while bobbing and weaving with his imaginary partner.
“You are so my type, Slick. Rough, tumble, and a ready bottom.” He laughed heartily and slapped his knees. “I like men, period, babe, just as long as you ain’t talking marriage and kids. Listen, we can do this, man. Why do we have to talk about anything long term, huh? Funny. I’m the old geezer who’s got one foot in the damn grave, and you’re the young’un. I reckon that should be the other way around, don’t you?”
For a moment, Zane said nothing. He merely advanced on his prey, legs shuffling in the dirt in a practiced dance Renford had taught him years prior, before the academy got their claws into him. He stopped and turned to look at Cyrus. “Fine, then, you’re not my type.” Zane pressed his hands to his hips. “We want different things and that’s fine. I’m not willing to settle for less, and you aren’t willing to settle for more, so—as they say—we are at an impasse.”
“Why, though, Slick?” Cyrus crossed his meat hooks over his burly chest and shook his head. “I can’t love no one else like I did Danny. I….” Visibly nervous, Cyrus cursed under his breath and dropped his gaze. “I can’t fall in love again like that, Slick. I’m not willing to try either, because….”
“Why? Because what?”
Cyrus grimaced and ground his teeth. “Be—fuck… because no one will ever compare to him, Slick. No one. He was my life, the air I breathe, okay. I know that any man who tries to take his place will come up short.”
“Then we’re done here,” Zane said simply, walking by Cyrus.
“Wait, hold on, man.” Cyrus chased after Zane, pulling him back. “We’re not done, Ash. We have feelings for each other, dammit. Just because I said I can’t love again don’t mean we can’t fuck.” Cyrus held out his hands. “Come on.” Cyrus smiled wide. “You know you wanna.
Zane pulled away and shoved Cyrus hard in the chest. “Get offa me. I’m no one’s consolation prize. I’m not dead, Cyrus, but it seems you’d rather be in love with a ghost than a real, live man.” He stepped up close, staring into Cyrus’s eyes. “Look, you see it?”
Cyrus didn’t flinch. “Yeah, I see a hot man who needs to be screwed. Come on, Zane. I just can’t do the long-term deal, all right. Not with you or anyone. Why isn’t it good enough to be together and take things as they come? Maybe I might change my mind, eventually, I don’t know. I just can’t make that kind of commitment right now.” Cyrus grabbed Zane’s arms and pulled him close, rubbing his hands up and down them.