Just Dex, A Les’s Bar Novel

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: Les's Bar #1
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: January 19, 2021

When Dexter Appleton’s best friend Huck commits suicide, it damn near kills Dex too. Huck was a bull rider with a crazy life, and leaves behind a big house, and a ton of unanswered questions. But Dex is just a simple guy, just a Texas redneck trying to scrape together a life, and he can’t handle much more before he breaks.

 

Cyrus Hughes is a professional Dom. He’s shocked to learn that Huck is gone, he’s met with Huck twice a month for years, and didn’t expected to miss a client so much. When he heads to Texas to pay his respects, he instinctively feels protective of Huck’s anxious and unlikely best friend, Dexter.

 

The attraction between them grows, even long distance, until Cyrus insists he needs Dex with him in New York. Clinging to his last bit of hope, Dex takes a leap of faith and moves what little he still owns in with Cyrus, hoping to find his place is in the world, and learn how to love a lifestyle Dom.

 

Their path is full of trial and error, adjusting expectations and discovering how they fit together. Cyrus and Dex try to smooth out the rough edges and create their own family, one where Cyrus hopes to convince Dex that he’s not “just” anything. 

Buy the Book: Amazon

 

Excerpt:

Dex let himself into Huck’s house, his hand shaking so bad that he missed the lock twice.

Twice.

Huh, you’d think he was a drunk on a three-day binge.

Maybe he would be soon. Who knew? Maybe he’d run away from Salado, drive down to Galveston, up to Beaver’s Bend, away. Maybe he’d just go home and have a long nap. Maybe he’d head to Sixth Street and play with the college kids.

Maybe.

He could hear the alarm deal when he opened the door, distantly, and he wandered to the keypad, turned it off. Huck could do it from his phone—got a kick out of turning it on when he was house sitting, in fact.

Dex stood there in the foyer, the sun pouring into the house, lighting all the wood up, the dust making patterns in the air.

There was an alligator.

A tulip.

A longhorn.

A leaf.

A noose.

His knees buckled and he hit the floor, hands slapping down so hard it hurt.

Suddenly it was like he was Huck, hanging from his bullrope in a hotel bathroom, throat closed, body going heavy and swollen, nasty with gas and bacteria and flies and…

“No.”

The scream that wanted out was just a tiny squeak, but it proved he was here. Here in Huck’s house. Here, waiting for somebody—anybody—to tell him what the fuck to do.

His best friend in all the world—the face he’d known from the nursery at First Baptist, the first guy he’d ever kissed, the person who quit the baseball team when he got thrown out. Huck.

Huck was dead.

Jesus Christ, Huck McNamara was dead, and Dexter was…not.

 

***

 

Tuesdays were quiet enough that Cyrus could sit at the bar. He hauled himself through the front door out of the rain and stomped the water off his boots, shivering for a second as the air conditioning hit him. His iPad was stuffed under his jacket to stay dry and had been tucked against his side so hard he thought maybe he’d bruised something.

Ironic. He’d managed not to pick up any new bruises all day despite his client being particularly needy.

The bartender gave him a wave, and he waved back before hanging up his coat on the pegs by the door.

Tuesdays should be Greg behind the bar, but Greg finally got cast in some new off-Broadway show Cyrus couldn’t remember the name of and might be at rehearsal.

He set his iPad down on the bar at his usual spot with a good view of both the TV and the door.

“Mr. Hughes. Always good to see you.” A mug of hot coffee landed on the bar along with a bowl of pretzels.

Not Greg. Good for him. “Oh, perfect. Thanks, Perry.”

“It’s a fresh pot. I’m mainlining it tonight. I pulled a double yesterday and picked up Greg’s shift tonight. I’m toast.” Perry leaned against the bar, blue eyes shining in the lights. Such a lovely young man.

“Well, I won’t bother you much. I have a little work to do.”

“Bother me when you’re ready for a break. This place is dead with the weather.” Perry winked at him.

“Okay.” Sounded like Perry wanted some company. He’d just get the pressing stuff done, then he could chat awhile.

He took a sip of his coffee and hummed as the warmth chased the last of the damp summer rain away. Then opened up his iPad. His calendar was full. He’d had inquiries from two potential new clients, but fitting them in would be a challenge. He looked his week over and shook his head. The rest of this week was impossible but maybe—

Well, maybe next Thursday if Huck didn’t answer his phone soon. Cyrus had been calling him since he no-showed last week. It was the first time in nearly two years that Huck had missed an appointment; the cowboy was as regular as the sunrise. Twice a month on a Thursday since the very first time they’d met. It was more than a little worrisome.

He pulled out his cell phone and found Huck’s number, trying it one more time.

“McNamara’s phone. What can I do you for?”

Damn, that was…odd. Now he was definitely worried. And curious.

Okay. Discretion. He found his professional voice. He’d done this lots of times. “Hello. I’m looking for Huck. Is he available?”

“Oh hell’s bells, am I talking to his therapist? That’s what comes up on the phone.” So, another Texan—lover? Family?

Therapist was pretty common. He found the different ways people referred to him so interesting. “Yes, it’s Cyrus Hughes. Who am I speaking with?”

“Dex. Dexter Appleton. I—” There was a shaky breath, a pause. “Damn, Sam. This never gets easier. Never. I’m sorry, buddy. Huck hung himself in Nashville. He’s gone.”

“He what?” What? He knew something was wrong, but he was thinking rodeo accident or that Huck was in a wreck. Cy covered his other ear and listened. “I—I’m…sorry for your loss.” Hung himself. Cyrus would never have—he had no idea Huck was— “Shit.”

“Yessir. The funeral’s planned here for Monday. I mean, if you want to come out. You in Austin or Dallas?”

“New York,” he said absently. “I’m in New York.” Huck. Why didn’t you call me?

“New—What? Did you say New York?” The shock on the other end of the line was…huge. Like he’d said he was from the moon.

“Where are you? What was he doing in Nashville? How could he have hung himself?” Right. He needed to stop talking before this Dexter guy hung up on him.

“I’m at Huck’s house. We’re outside Salado. He was at a bull riding, and he used his motherfucking bull rope.” The guy’s voice started to crack, and he heard Dexter take a deep breath. “Sorry. Sorry. You need to know where to send flowers?”

“I think—” I think I need to be there. “When… When did you say the service was? Is it in…you said Salado?”

Perry glanced at him and he shook his head sadly, which made Perry come over and give his shoulder a squeeze. That was kind, but he really had no idea what he was feeling right now. He was in shock, obviously, as Dexter probably was as well. It definitely felt like real grief though.

“Monday afternoon at one. No viewing. Broecker here in town. I’m burying him next to his momma. Hold up.” There was a pause, and then, “Goddamn it, y’all! I am trying to deal with shit. Take that beer outside!”

He typed the date and time right into his calendar and the name of the town and the place into the notes. “Got it. I’m sorry, I won’t keep you. My condolences, I’m really very sorry.” He started to say that Huck was a good man, but what did he know really? He’d learned better than to assume. You’d think after all this time he’d know, but he didn’t.

“Thank you. I’m sure he, uh, he…liked you?” A soft chuckle sounded. “I’m sorry. I don’t know how that works—therapists.”

“He did. He trusted me.” In his world, that was the highest compliment Huck could have given him. “Thank you. Have a good night.”

He hung up and set his phone carefully on the bar.

Perry looked at him seriously. “You okay, Cy?”

Cyrus shrugged reflexively. “I lost a…a client.” It was really strange to think that a man with as much fight in him as Huck would hang himself. Sure, Huck was obviously frustrated, maybe angry, but suicidal? Wouldn’t Cy have seen that?

Should he have?

“Shit. I’m sorry, man.”

He tossed a twenty on bar and pushed off his stool. “I’m going to head home.”

“I get it. Safe home, Cy.”

He scooped up his iPad, tucked it under his arm and stepped out into the rain.

He was nearly home before he realized he’d forgotten his coat.

Fuck.

He’d go back for it tomorrow.

Title: Just Dex
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-38-3


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