By Carol McKenzie
As of today, Friday, December 19th, 2008, Cowboys’ Christmas is ranked the #1 best seller at Fictionwise for loveyoudivine, it is the #1 best seller for loveyoudivine at All Romance Ebooks and ranks #15 at AllShortStories.com
It is the first story to be released for the coming print anthology in 2009, Men On Holiday.
Ebook ISBN / Price: 978-1-60054-283-1
Length: 56 pages / 14,400 word count
Category: His and His Kisses
Rating: Shooting Star
Buy link: http://tinyurl.com/4u2yz8
Video Trailer: http://tinyurl.com/59anuw
The First Release from MEN II: On Holiday from Carol McKenzie – DEC 1st
It’s December and it’s cold. Blake’s back aches from busting broncs and he wants to settle down, maybe do some ranching. Blake loves his sister, who doesn’t know he’s gay. But he loves Riley, too. If he breaks the news, will his sister accept Riley into the family?
Thirty-year-old Blake finishes his obligations on the rodeo circuit for the year. It’s December and it’s cold. He calls his sister, Katy, in Rufus, Oregon, and tells her that he is getting too old to bust broncos. His back and bones ache. He mentions he may come home for Christmas. Katy ís delighted because she needs help with the Kinglsley Ranch; it’s falling apart, and her boyfriend is too much a tenderfoot to help.
Blake can’t wait to meet up with his “friend” in their usual camping area. Katy doesn’t know about his flame, Riley S. Campbell. What will she say or think when she finds he’s taken Riley, a man, as his lover? Will Riley’s family accept Blake?
Blake Kingsley pulled his truck and fifth wheel into a vacant island of Huck’s Gas Mart in downtown Longview, Washington, and stopped the engine. He climbed out and put his gray Stetson on his head. Heavy, cold rain beat down on the overhang and the air smelled of gasoline. He lifted the nozzle, pressed the mid-grade button and pumped forty dollars worth of gas into his tank, mumbling his displeasure the whole time. When he finished, he put handle back and ambled toward the pay station, the soles of his boots smacking in puddles.
A sleepy-eyed, brunette attendant behind a counter looked at him over her gold-rimmed glasses and blinked long, curling lashes.
Tipping onto his toes, he drew a couple of wadded bills from his tight jeans’ pocket and placed them on the steel counter.
The attendant took them without a word.
“Thank you, Ma’am,” he said and returned to his truck.
He climbed into the cab, closed the door and within the minute, drove toward Kalama, Washington, taking the interstate north. Pangs of loneliness entered his system again. He thought about his family; those alive and dead. I need to make a call. He retrieved his cell phone from the center console. Without swerving off the road, he dialed his sister in Rufus, Oregon.
“Katy, this season’s done. Thank God.”
“I hope you come home.” Her voice sounded creaky. He imagined her soft, freckled face and auburn, curly hair. “It’s been quiet here since mom and dad’s died.”
A picture of their parent’s crumpled automobile, with blood on the seats the day after their head on collision in Medford played in his mind. The horrible call from the emergency room had come announcing their demise. He gulped air in his sadness.
His sister sighed, bringing him back to the here and now. “Things are fallin’ apart around this ol’ place. Frank’s not into ranchin’. He can’t even ride a horse.”
Blake wiped a tear from the corner of his eye and the remembrance ended. He clucked his tongue, recalling her tenderfoot boyfriend, Frank. “I’ll bet.” A misplaced smile quirked at the corners of his lips. It’s best I change the subject, or she’ll cry. “What do you want for Christmas, sis?”
“Just get here safely. We’ll have a nice holiday, if you come. I’m invitin’ you, you know.”
“I’ll spring for the turkey, if I was to come,” Blake said and placed his Stetson on the passenger seat.
“So, how are you doin’ otherwise, little brother?'”
“It’s best you not ask, ’cause right now, I’m in a piss poor mood.”
“These friggin’ gas prices suck. They’re high as hell. It costs too much drivin’ the circuit anymore. I’m twenty-eight and gettin’ too old for bustin’ broncs.”
“Get a different job, then. Stay home, settle down. Maybe get a job as, I dunno, be a cop.”
“I’ve done ruint my back.”
“Maybe it’s time to quit.”
“I’ve got to think about it. See you.”
“Tell your buddy hi. Oh, and call when you get close.”
Once he put the cell phone back in the case and closed the console lid, he took a left onto a different highway and began thinking about what Katy didn’t know—his ideas on sexual preferences. It’d shock her to death. He thought about his job situation, too. Maybe I’ll work the farm. Or become a cop. At a stoplight he lit a cigarette and slid the Bic back into the pocket of his blue western shirt. Right now, all I do is get out there and risk life and limb…for what? To give the audience thrills, and all I get is a few measly dollars. Shit. I must have rocks in my fuckin’ head. What the hell am I goin’ to do? Should I rodeo another year, or quit? Cops’ lives are always in danger. Maybe my back ain’t in good enough shape to do that kind of work.
He coughed, took another drag off his Benson & Hedges and glanced at the speedometer. The dial read he was going five miles per hour over the speed limit. He raised his foot a bit on the gas pedal until the needle stopped just over sixty-five. An elongated sigh left his lips.
He passed several dense, vast forested areas. The dark green fir trees alongside the road forked upward toward a gloomy, cloudy sky. Rain splattered on the windshield as the wipers thump-thump-thumped. When he stopped at a sign, he flicked his cigarette out the window into a mud puddle. He turned the satellite’s radio knob to a country-western station and hummed along with George Strait who sang Easy Come, Easy Go.
As he started driving, his thoughts turned to a better subject. Yeah, I’ll park this thing and take a rest. Gettin’ a mess of Riley will make me feel better. The U-Shine Car Wash caught Blake’s eye. Maybe I should unhook this thing and wash the road dust off my pickup. He decided to keep on trucking, wanting to get to his destination before dark and get a space rented. I’ll wash it tomorrow.
Mid-afternoon, driving along on I-5, he gazed out upon the sparkling Columbia River near his exit. Slow barges made their way north and west; a breathtaking sight.
Once off the interstate and in town, he drove down the main drag looking for the old, peeling sign that read Campground–Marty’s Trailer Spaces–Weekly and Monthly Rates. Blake passed the launderette and the post office. He traveled two blocks past the totem pole, the Lone Pine Cafe and made a right just like he had at previous season’s end.
I’ll rest. Maybe spend part of the winter with my ol’ buddy.
He pictured his pal, Riley S. Campbell, when he last saw him over a year earlier. He stood five ten and had a slim, strong build. Blake never thought to ask his exact age, but he guessed it to be around twenty-eight. He’d worn hand-tooled boots and a belt that sported a silver Texas longhorn buckle. Riley’s onyx gaze seemed to penetrate his soul and mind. Worn jeans, most of the time faded, encased a well-shaped ass. Blake began to feel the slide of him coming inside his body. Damn, I’ve missed him. He’ll be a sight for sore eyes.