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First Rodeo

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: The Cowboy and the Dom Trilogy #1
Genre: , , , , ,
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Pages: 303

First Rodeo: The Cowboy and the Dom Trilogy, Book One

When a killer strikes, Texan and former rodeo cowboy, Sam O’Reilly, loses his older brother. Unbeknownst to Sam, James was also the lover and sub of a sophisticated New York City Dom named Thomas Ward. Sam comes to the city determined to stay until he can bring the murderer to his own brand of justice, while Thomas’ more ordered mind is hoping for a legal solution. Neither man expects their connection to the other, but having each lost someone irreplaceable, their hearts are crying out for comfort almost as loudly as their bodies are screaming for each other.

Some yearnings refuse to be ignored, but transcending their differences to explore the fragile connection between them will prove to be a steep a hill to climb--the first of many. As Sam and Thomas take the first tentative steps on the rocky path that might lead to a relationship, the killer steps out of the shadows...

And this time, his sights are set on Sam.

*Note: Each of the books in The Cowboy and the Dom Trilogy have fully realized romantic HEAs. However, the overarching suspense element leaves readers on a cliffhanger after books one and two, to be resolved in book three.

Buy the Book: Amazon

Chapter One

“What the fuck are you going to do, baby brother?” Bowie stood at the gravesite, staring down at him like Bowie always had. Gigantic prick. “Do you think you’re going to fucking fix this? James is dead.”

Like Sam didn’t know that.

Fury flashed inside him, hot and fueled by an agony he’d never expected, and he turned, his fist shooting out and catching Bowie right in the uniformed gut.

Rule number two: never monologue.

That surprised Bowie enough that it doubled him over, and Sam got an uppercut in. He had to get his shots in while he could. His big brother outweighed him by sixty pounds and towered over him by damn near a foot and, he had to be honest, had ten years of being a Ranger behind him.

“Motherfucker!” Bowie reached for him, and he danced out of range.

“You kiss my momma with that mouth, grunt?” He went for Bowie’s trick knee, thankful he had his shitkickers on. That pointed toe was useful, and he had a chance to fell the giant.

Rule number three: once you get them down, keep them down.

Used to be that him and James would work together to take Bowie down. That was never going to happen again.

Never.

The thought of that closed casket, that slashed-up face he’d had the misfortune to identify hidden under the oiled wood, made him gag and stumble, and Bowie took advantage, the fists on the back of his neck enough to face-plant him in grave dirt.

“Rule number one, baby brother. Don’t start shit you don’t have the strength to finish.” The hands around his throat were strong, the tremble in them only noticeable because they were so tight.

The sound of a pistol cocking was sharp and clear, and the fuzzy image of Aunt Linda wavered in his sight. “Boys, if you upset your momma and daddy, I will be put out. Get your skanky asses off the ground. Y’all are in your Sunday clothes.”

“Seriously, Aunt Linda?” Bowie muttered. “Even I didn’t come to the gravesite armed.”

“I know you boys. Can’t trust you as far as I can throw you. Get your asses up. Now.”

Bowie stood up and hauled him alongside, just as easy as pie.

“Now apologize,” she demanded.

“He started it.” Bowie was still a suck-up.

“Jim Bowie O’Reilly! You apologize to your baby brother for putting your hands on him right now!” God, she was a harpy—broad as a barn and fierce as any woman who had raised her own siblings had to have been.

“Sorry, asshole.”

“Yeah. Me too. I just…” Sam waved one hand toward the grave. This wasn’t right. James was supposed to be in New York, living this amazing life with lights and a zillion friends. Bowie had the adventure, James had the city, and he was supposed to stay home here and…hold down the fort or something. He was the baby, and… “It should have been you, Bowie.”

Everyone expected that awful phone call. Every time Bowie was deployed, they lived with that quiet fear.

James was a motherfucking school teacher. An elementary school teacher who didn’t get tattoos or take drugs or—

“Sam!” Aunt Linda sounded horrified.

“What? It’s true!”

“Yeah. Yeah, I know.” Suddenly Bowie looked…diminished. Gray and tired and older than the seven years that separated them. “Fuck you, Sammy. I know. So what the fuck are you going to do about James? I have to report back to work.”

“I’m going to go clean out his place.” He was between jobs. Hell, he was between lives—college was pretty much done with him, he’d educated himself into obscurity in ranching, and God knew, no one needed a broke-dick cowboy with a master’s in art history, a shattered leg from bronc riding, and a temper that tended to flare at inappropriate-at-best times. He would go clean things out and see if he could encourage the detectives to find out…anything.

“You sure you’re not going to short out, Sammy?”

“Fuck you. I’ve been to Dallas, Austin. Hell, I went with James to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I ain’t a kid!”

“You’re my kid brother, Sammy, and I only have one left now.” An expression of pure agony crossed Bowie’s face, and Sam turned his back so he didn’t have to see it.

“I’ll be fine. I’ve got the time, and Momma’s got to take care of Daddy.”

Things hadn’t been good, but the news of James’s murder had made the little baby strokes turn into a real one, and while Daddy wasn’t crippled or nothing, no one was going to let him fly. Not yet.

“Come on. They’re waiting for y’all down to the big house. You know there’s food and all the Ladies Auxiliary waiting to make a fuss.” Aunt Linda didn’t so much as let a tear go, but she did slip her Saturday Night Special into her pocketbook. “Brother Martin will want to bless you both and lay hands.”

“That son of a bitch touches me and I’ll rip out his spleen,” Bowie growled, and Sam had to smile. That was his big brother.

He could hear James, right now, echoing in his head.

Be good, Jim, honey. You’re teaching Sammy bad habits.

God, it was never going to be right. Never.

“Come on. Let’s go.”

He turned and headed for his truck. James wasn’t here. That was a grave, a body, a stone. He was going to go find James where he’d lived.

 

Chapter Two

Thank God this was New York City, the only town he knew of, except maybe LA, where yellow police tape didn’t slow anyone down. Aside from the cops, he was the only one there, the only one who cared. Thomas had about as much privacy as he was going to get.

He leaned against the side of the building as the NYPD took the tape down, balled it up, and stuffed it into a nearby garbage can. The evidence markers had been gone for a couple of days, the chalk lines were gone now too, and even the bloodstains in the concrete were already fading. Another day or two and there wouldn’t be any evidence left that James had died here.

But Thomas wouldn’t forget. He couldn’t get away from it. He lived here, worked here, walked the same goddamn streets as whoever was responsible. He still carried around memories of his time with James that he’d never share with anyone. He carried around the plans they’d made and a future that could never happen now.

He hadn’t received an invitation to James’s funeral. This would have to be his closure, watching the investigation into his lover’s murder become routine, move on to the next “phase.” Watching all the evidence disappear.

That was perhaps the most awful addition to his grief. He understood that James couldn’t be wholly out to his family back home in…well, somewhere in East Texas, but understanding it while James was alive and in his arms was one thing. Coming to grips with his exile now was something else entirely. He was bitter; he was angry. Not at James, not at anyone in particular, just at a world that made them hide. He felt humiliated, and that wasn’t a pill he could swallow without choking on it.

Everything about his life was deliberate, yet at the moment, he was experiencing a lack of control he’d never imagined possible.

One of the cops walked over and offered him a smoke. Colletti was his name. “Wouldn’t you rather be home?”

“This is as close as I want to get right now.” God, listen to him. He refused the cigarette, but just barely. Vices sounded like such a good idea.

“Dobson is going to call you, routine stuff. Did they ask you not to leave town?”

“Yeah. It wasn’t an imperative, but it was strongly suggested.” Insult to injury.

Officer Colletti gave him a nod. “We’re done here. Take care, Mister Ward.”

“Thanks.”

The squad car drove off, and New York seemed impossibly quiet all of a sudden.

A man with a duffel and a cowboy hat walked up to the stoop, and for a second, Thomas’s heart stopped. He closed his eyes until he could breathe again.

Fuck, tourists were everywhere in this city. He just hadn’t been prepared for one in a cowboy hat. He took a breath and headed down the steps. He needed a coffee.

They passed each other, the man meeting his eyes and nodding. “Afternoon.”

“Where are you going?” He knew those eyes intimately. He reached out and grabbed the man by the arm, that hazel making his heart pound. “Who are you?”

“Who the fuck is asking, motherfucker?” The little guy just popped right up into his face, those eyes flashing.

Christ, the cowboy sounded just like James too. Only James would have known better than to meet his eyes.

He stood his ground, inches away, instinct and training helping him stare the kid down. “You’re an O’Reilly. Which one? Sam, right? The bronc rider? You’re too small to be Jim.”

“Bowie,” the kid corrected immediately, even as he nodded. “Who are you?”

Nobody you’d know.

“Right. Bowie.” He let go of Sam’s arm. He knew he should back down, but it took real effort. “I’m Thomas Ward. I…knew your brother.”

Fuck. I loved him.

“Knew him? Y’all worked together?”

What was he going to do? He wasn’t going to out James now. What would be the point? It hurt, though, denying James and jumping back into a closet he’d slammed the door on as soon as he’d stepped foot in this city years ago. “No. We are…were really good friends. He told me all about you guys.”

“Oh. I’m here to…clean up, I guess. Stuff.” Sam tilted his head. “Is this your building too?”

“Uh.” Well, fuck. James had always said Sam was bright. “No.” He’d asked about moving in together. James had been thinking about it. “I was just missing him.”

“Oh. I—come on up, huh?”

 

Title: First Rodeo: The Cowboy and the Dom Trilogy, Book One
ASIN: B07YM1QNK4

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