People do change and I'd like to think that I'd be willing to give someone a second chance. But I'm not sure that I could. However thankfully that not decision I had to make. But Blair does and when he examines the current facts carefully, he may find out that his high school bully is the ally he needs to kick his real bully, one very close to home, out of his life.
Blair Montague is sent to Newton, Montana, to purchase a ranch and some land for his father. It’s a trip he doesn't want to make. But his father paid for his college education in exchange for Blair working for him in his casinos, so Blair has no choice. When he finds out he’ll be dealing with Royal Masters, the man who bullied him in high school, he is shocked. Then Blair is surprised when he finds that Royal’s time in the Marines has changed him to the point where Blair could be attracted to him… if he’s willing to take that chance.
Royal’s life hasn’t been a bed of roses. He saw combat in the military that left him scarred, and not just on the outside. When he inherits his father’s ranch, he discovers his father wasn't a good manager and the ranch is in trouble. The sale of land would put them back on good footing, but he is suspicious of Blair’s father’s motives, and with good reason. The attraction between them is hard for either to ignore, but it could all evaporate once the land deal is sealed.
“I wasn’t aware that my father had entertained selling any of the land,” Royal said. “Do you have the details of what was being offered? At the end my father wasn’t completely himself, so anything he said no longer has any bearing.”
“I figured that.” Blair wanted to get the hell out of here. He wasn’t dealing with Royal for business or anything else. He’d simply see about purchasing the Triple C and be on his way. That was the land his father really wanted. “I’ll just be on my way. You have a good life.” He climbed up into the truck. “Just don’t shove anyone into any lockers.” Blair pulled the door closed and started the truck engine. He expected Royal to get out of the way, but he just stood there. Blair rolled down his window. “You need to move so I can get out of your hair.”
“You came all this way. I expect you had things to talk about,” Royal said in a normal tone, crossing his arms across his chest, making him look even bigger.
“Fine,” Blair said with a sigh. He turned off the engine and got out. “But try anything and I’ll take you down like a house of cards.”
Royal smiled for the first time. “I’d like to see you try.” Damn, the man was gorgeous when he smiled—not one of those fake, bemused smiles, but one that went from ear to ear and crinkled his eyes.
“You may have been the big man in high school, but things have changed.” Blair grabbed the file and got out, standing about a foot away from Royal, glaring right back at him. He’d always promised himself that if he ever did meet this asshole again, he wouldn’t back down, come hell or high water. He’d come a hair’s width away from doing just that, and it wasn’t going to happen a second time. “I can take care of myself.”
Royal lowered his gaze and then slowly raised it. “You don’t look all that different from how you did then. You’re still thin; not enough meat on those bones.” Royal’s appraisal paused at his face, and for a few seconds Blair saw bewilderment. He didn’t look away.
“Looks aren’t everything.”
“Royal. Are you going to stand there having a staring match, or do you intend to invite the man in like the decent hospitable folks that we are?” A lady half jogged down the steps. “Sorry, he must have forgotten his manners. I’m Carlene.”
Blair shook her hand. “Blair Montague, ma’am.”
“This is my stepmother,” Royal explained in a soft tone that Blair never could have imagined Royal using. In high school he was either silent in class or yelling when he was outside of it. There had never been anything in between. Of course that only meant Royal had matured it a little. “I have things I need to get done this morning,” he added a little more forcefully, the tone Blair remembered from school creeping in. At least Blair understood how to accept that. “If you really want to talk business, come back at the end of the day.” Royal checked his watch. “I’ll have time to talk to you then.” He turned to Carlene as if he wasn’t going to accept any arguments.
“Fine. Mr. Montague, would you please come to dinner? Say, about six?” She smiled and turned to Royal, daring him right back to argue with her.
Blair didn’t want to get in the middle of whatever dynamic was going on between these two, but an excuse wasn’t on the tip of his tongue, so he nodded, mostly because he didn’t have another answer.
“Excellent,” she said.
Royal nodded once, his expression hard and set. Then he turned and strode stiffly off toward the barn, fists clenching and unclenching. What in the hell was that about? Blair wanted to ask, but it was none of his business, and neither was the way Royal’s ass looked in those jeans. He blinked, expecting that perfect backside to be some sort of illusion, but it wasn’t. “Damn,” he mumbled under his breath before he remembered Carlene was still there. “I have to get to another appointment.” Jesus, he hoped he covered well enough. He turned to Carlene. “I’ll see you this evening.”
Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing) He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
His web site is: www.andrewgreybooks.com