Thursday, January 16, 2020

Don Travis: Impotent-Chapter 5 (A Serial Novella)

Don Travis: Impotent-Chapter 5 (A Serial Novella): dontravis.com blog post #372     Courtesy of publicdomaininvectors.org The power dynamic shifted considerably in Chapter 4. Does t...

Impotent-Chapter 5 (A Serial Novella)


dontravis.com blog post #372
  
Courtesy of publicdomaininvectors.org
The power dynamic shifted considerably in Chapter 4. Does that mean anything? Will it encourage young Austin Andino or intimidate him? Read on.

*****
IMPOTENT

De la Roche admired the cowpoke’s masculine grace until Austin disappeared into the bedroom. Then he rose and went into his own, only half-closing his door to admit heat from the fireplace.
As he settled beneath the covers of the bed, he experienced a bit of uneasiness. Had that look betrayed him? His ex-wife used to say that he could say more with his eyes than most men could say with words. She’d touch the lids covering his big orbs and tell him they were his best and worst feature. They could be fiercely intimidating. Pin a victim against the wall. Express pleasure, displeasure, joy, sadness, desire, disdain without his moving a facial muscle. Normally, he controlled what they said, but he wasn’t certain about tonight. Damn, he wanted that young man!
Warm beneath the thick covers, De la Roche tried to quell his busy mind. He had almost achieved sleep when he became alert as Austin stirred around in the cabin. The young man tossed another log on the fire. Moments later, his door swung open. Silhouetted against the glow of the flames, Austin Andino stood looking into the dark room, seemingly naked and powerful. When he moved into the bedroom, it was apparent he wore briefs. De la Roche stirred on his bed, pulling to a half sitting position against the headboard.
For a long moment the cowboy said nothing. Then he spoke in a throaty growl. “I’ve seen that look before.”
“What look?” De la Roche asked through dry pipes.
“The one you gave me at the table. Men have been looking at me that way since I was twelve.”
“I’ll bet they have,” he rasped as Austin took a few steps forward. “You’re mighty hard not to look at.”
The young cowboy stood at the side of his bed. “I thought a man like you took what he wanted.”
“I do,” De la Roche responded. “But like this big cowboy hunk I know, I do it in my own time.”
“And when is that?”
“Now,” he answered.
Grasping Austin’s hips, he twisted, throwing the cowboy onto the bed beside him. Austin stretched across the mattress, making no protest as De la Roche’s hands wandered his body. The firm young flesh, the hard muscles gave him a high he hadn’t experienced before, made even better when exclamations of pleasure escaped Austin’s lips.
As Austin’s orgasm finally died away, the cowboy sighed contentedly. De la Roche admired the rangy body by the faint light before covering them both with a blanket and lying beside Austin.
“You’ve done that before,” he said into the silence.
Austin stirred. “Yeah.”
“In the army, right?”
The big cowboy started. “How’d you know?”
“Yesterday you looked uncomfortable when you mentioned you hadn’t seen a GPU since the army.”
“Yeah, it was in the army. I got sent to the Gulf after Desert Storm ended, and there wasn’t anything to do and nobody to do it with. One day out in the middle of the desert, these two nomad kids came up. They weren’t little kids, you understand. Hell, they were about as old as I was, and I was eighteen at the time. But in a way they seemed a lot younger.” The cowboy frowned into the darkness.
“In other ways they seemed older. Lots of the kids tried to sell things to the GIs. Had to be careful they weren’t bad guys, but these two were okay. We didn’t want any of their trinkets, but the kids hung around anyway. First thing I know, my buddy’s with one kid. The other one’s got an eyebrow cocked at me. I looked at him for the first time… you know, really looked at him. Big bedroom eyes with the soul spilling out of them. Shit, Forrest, he was pretty as a girl. So I just closed my eyes and let him have at it. Salim, that was his name, Salim did it for the money, of course, but he liked me a lot. Would rather do it for me than anybody else. So I used to see him sort of regular. Made sure he had money for food and clothing for his family. He made sure I stayed relaxed.”
Austin paused in his narration. “Made it sorta hard to leave when my time came. I was fond of the little fucker. Woulda brought him back with me if I could.” He shifted on the bed, and De la Roche was afraid he was leaving, but he wasn’t. “What does that say about me?” he asked harshly.
“Says you’re a caring man. Says you take your sex seriously, not casually. Says a great deal about you, Austin.”
“Yeah, says I’m a fucking fairy.”
De la Roche laughed aloud. “I’ll bet you’re the only guy in the world who’d say that.”
“Maybe. I’ve pounded on a guy or two who made a move on me. But this was different. I don’t know how, but it was.”
Silence fell over the room until the cowboy spoke again. “How about you? I wouldn’t have thought a big, important man like you would… you know.”
De la Roche chuckled. “You’d be surprised what a big, important man will do. Hell, Austin, I’m human like anybody else. But for your information, mostly I stick to women… just as you do. I haven’t been with a man since my divorce. That’s why I got it, incidentally. Elaine hired a houseboy. She likes beautiful things, and he sure as hell was beautiful. She was shocked out of her shoes when she found us together.”
“Be damned,” was Austin’s comment.


De la Roche woke the next morning alone in the bed. The smell of frying bacon brought him to consciousness slowly. At first, he wondered if last night had been a beautiful dream, but when he threw back the covers and found that he was naked, he knew that it had actually happened. Now came the next crisis. How would Austin react?
The big cowboy, dressed in his work denims, gave him a shy smile when he came into the room. De la Roche realized that the handsome young man had been worrying about his reaction. Make it as normal as possible.
“Morning,” he said.
“Morning, Forrest. Sleep well….”
De la Roche laughed aloud as the cowpoke almost bit his tongue over his slipup. “Extremely well—” He chuckled. “—after the night got past a certain point. Are we going to act like adults about this, or are we going to get mentally and emotionally constipated?”
Austin returned his laugh and relaxed. “Like adults, I guess… even if we did act like teenagers last night.”
“I never had a teenager give me anything so meaningful as last night,” De la Roche said baldly.
Austin turned serious a moment, meeting his steady gaze before going back to his cooking. “Neither have I.”
“How’s the weather outside?”
“Overcast. We’ll have a shower or two, but the storm’s over.”
“Austin,” he said to get the young man’s attention. “I’m going to tell them it’s too unsettled and to wait until tomorrow to come for me. If that’s all right with you, that is.”
The cowpoke flipped some bacon and then turned those agate eyes on him. “It’s fine with me.” He paused a long moment. “In fact, I’d like that.”
De la Roche’s chest swelled with a joy he had not experienced in years. His throat constricted, but he managed to squeeze out a few words. “Guess we better eat and get to work.”
Maybe we better," Austin said quietly, turning back to the bacon again.


*****
Well, well, well! Seems like both of them got something of value last night. Great. But will this turn into anything other than a wonderful memory for the men? Hard to say at this point. They come from two different world. Perhaps Chapter 6 will give us the answer.

The following are buy links for the recently released The Voxlightner Scandal.


Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
                                                                                                    
Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Don Travis: Impotent-Chapter 4 (A Serial Novella)

Don Travis: Impotent-Chapter 4 (A Serial Novella): dontravis.com blog post #371 Courtesy of publicdomaininvestors.org Chapter 4 might be a game-changer. Power denotes power, regardl...

Impotent-Chapter 4 (A Serial Novella)


dontravis.com blog post #371

Courtesy of publicdomaininvestors.org
Chapter 4 might be a game-changer. Power denotes power, regardless of the circumstances, and a couple of phone calls shifts the balance considerably. Will Austin be impressed?

*****
IMPOTENT

          Donning Austin’s spare slicker, De la Roche joined his host in the front seat of the Jeep. Since the rain had quit, although roiling gray clouds almost touched the treetops, he tried his satellite phone again. This time, through irritating bursts of static, he heard the phone ring on the other end. A sleepy voice answered, coming awake when De la Roche barked into the phone.

          De la Roche issued orders for someone to take his meeting today, arrange to have the Volvo picked up when the weather permitted, and agreed to take another call. “No, don’t try to pick me up today,” he said before closing the call. “Weather’s still too unsettled. Looks like it could break loose any minute.”
          “That was one of my executive vice presidents. He’ll check with the weather bureau and let me know when they think they can pick me up.”
          Austin peered out the windshield as the first of the raindrops splattered against the glass. “Won’t be today.”
          The morning was a revelation to the engineer. He always enjoyed learning new things, and everything about the day was new. During a lull in the rain, while nature gathered her energy for the next inundation, low, scudding clouds ran before a wind that swept the high, mountain valley, shaking the trees like dogs shedding water. Austin had trained his cows to respond to the horn and a whistle, and in each pasture, the placid animals lifted their heads and walked with bovine dignity toward a central place where the young cowman spread a few pellets on the soaked ground.
          “Don’t really need to feed,” he explained. “Grass is pretty good this year, but it’s the pellets that train them to come to me. Saves a lot of time hunting down a bunch of ornery critters spread out in the woods. We’re on leased land now, but I know how many are in each pasture, and if one’s missing, I go look for him.”
          They ate thick beef sandwiches for lunch while sheltering from a steady rain in an open-sided shed that looked out over a broad meadow as beautiful as anything De la Roche had seen in this country. He had just finished the second of his sandwiches when his phone rang, the call he’d agreed to accept The voice was clear enough, although interrupted by short bursts of atmospheric interference.
          “Hello, Bob,” he said to the White House Chief of Staff. “How are you this morning? Good. Believe it or not, I’ve been wrestling cows all morning in the middle of the northern New Mexico mountains. This local cowman saved my fanny in a raging storm and promptly put me to work to earn my keep.” He laughed at the man’s response. “You received my letter, I take it. No, it’s not subject to reconsideration. It’s hard to say no to the man, but I truthfully feel this is best. Yes, I’ll be available for an hour or so, providing the weather doesn’t deteriorate. But please warn him I won’t reconsider, despite his legendary powers of persuasion.”
          There was a question mark on his young companion’s face, but De la Roche made no move to explain the call. He’d explain the next one. Provided it got through. The rain was falling harder now. Reluctantly he joined Austin in the cab of the Jeep and they headed to the next pasture.
          An hour later, the phone burped as they were enroute to another bunch of cattle. De la Roche answered it respectfully. “Yes, I’ll hold,” he said, giving Austin a mute shrug. “Yes, Mr. President, this is Forrest De la Roche,” he said. “How are you today? Oh, he told you my current occupation, did he? No, I know nothing about cattle, but the man showing me the ropes certainly does. Austin Andino. Yes, sir. Circle-A’s his brand. I’ll tell him.” He paused for long minutes as the President of the United States made his pitch. Then he responded.
          “Sir, I must respectfully decline. The overriding consideration is that we are in talks for a merger with Charles Industries. You know as well as I that I’ll have to argue that one before the SEC, the Federal Trade Commission, and probably Justice before it’s over, if for no other reason than it’s a fifteen-billion-dollar acquisition. That would still subject your administration to criticism if I were the sitting Secretary of the Interior. A pause. “No, sir. I can’t in good conscience put it on hold. I’m caught on a hook, Mr. President. It’s best for all concerned if I decline your offer.”
          A few moment later, he he turned off the phone and noticed that they were sitting before a gate. Austin’s door was ajar and he flushed when De la Roche glanced over at him. The businessman eased the Jeep from the passenger’s seat so that Austin could close the gate behind them. The cowman got back into the cab dripping water all over everything.
          Although he was obviously burning to ask questions, Austin displayed the virtue of a true cowman and minded his own business. When they arrived at the spot where the cattle in the pasture were congregating, De la Roche laid a hand on Austin’s arm.
          “I know that it’s unnecessary, Austin,” he began, “but I have to ask you to keep what you heard confidential.”
          The direct approach released the young man’s inhibitions. “Did I understand you correctly? You turned down the President of the United States when he offered to name you as Secretary of the Interior?”
          “Yes,” De la Roche said.
          “Jeez!” The young man exhaled. “And you told him my name?”
          “He wanted to know who’d succeeded in making me do hard labor. So I told him. Did I do wrong?”
          Austin flushed again. “No, but jeez! The President of the United States!”
          “He sends his thanks for getting me out of a sticky situation.”
          Late in the afternoon, they finished making the rounds of the pastures. De la Roche was physically exhausted, but Austin appeared as fresh as when they’d started out this morning. Thank God the electricity had come back on sometime during the day and there was hot water. This time he sat in the tub and soaked away the soreness in his muscles.
          Austin had beef stew ready when he emerged wrapped in two soft blankets. Too tired to dress properly, he sat at the table and ate half wrapped in terrycloth. After they cleaned the dishes, Austin took his own bath and came out with a big bath towel wrapped around his trim waist.
          Later, the two men sat at the table and discussed the day, De la Roche in designer sweats; Austin in clean, worn jeans and unbuttoned western shirt. The young rancher patiently answered a myriad of questions about what they had done and why and responded favorably to a couple of suggestions the older man made about the routine. Frankly, De la Roche admitted, Austin worked efficiently. The cowman could not quite hide his pleasure at the compliment.
          A comfortable silence grew as they sipped good, strong coffee. At length, Austin leaned back and threw his arm over the back of his kitchen chair, exposing most of his chest and belly. More excited than the situation called for, the older man took in the expanse of impressive flesh. One brown nipple escaped from behind the open shirt causing De la Roche to react. Thank God the table was between them. He could almost see the workings of Austin’s mind. so he wasn’t surprised at the young man’s next words.
          “Do you get calls from the White House often?”
          “I knew the previous president better, so I was invited to the Oval Office more often then.” He gave a wry grin. “After turning this one down, I probably won’t hear from him again… until he wants a donation.”
          Austin Andino studied him frankly. “I can’t begin to comprehend the power that represents. Probably an everyday occurrence for you, but not for me.”
          “Oh, I don’t think you ever get over awe of the White House, no matter how jaded you become.”
          The cowboy leaned forward, planted his elbows on the table, and took a sip of his coffee. “I can’t see you intimidated. Hell, you weren’t even intimidated when you were standing dripping wet in the middle of the road looking for a ride.”
          “I can assure you I was. Slipping in the mud and falling on your ass is a great way to knock the false pride out of a man.”
          Austin laughed, tightening the muscles in his stomach. Almost as if De la Roche willed it, the young man leaned back in his chair once more. The engineer could not help himself. His eyes focused on the broad chest. Glancing up, he saw that Austin had caught the look. The moment grew uncomfortable as Austin’s agate eyes watched him speculatively across the kitchen table. Neither said a word until the cowboy stood and announced his intention to retire.
          “I’d like to go out with you again tomorrow,” De la Roche said quickly.
          “Rain’s let up. Won’t they come for you?”
          “They’ll call first.”
          As if to remind them she wasn’t finished yet, Mother Nature unleashed another rainstorm.
          Austin raised his head and listened to the drops drum against the roof. “Might not let up tomorrow.”
          “Then they’ll come the day after. Hope you can stand me that long.” De la Roche sat where he was, admiring the exposed torso of the young cowman. He dropped his glance back to the table as Austin looked his way.
          “However long it takes. An extra hand for room and board is a decent deal.”
          “Only if the hand contributes,” he said depreciatingly.
          “A back’s a back. And for a big power broker you take instruction pretty good.” Austin smiled and turned toward his bedroom.

*****
Wow! I’d be impressed, and I believe Austin was too. Still nothing’s happened. Each man went to his own bedroom. What will Chapter 5 bring?

The following are buy links for the recently released The Voxlightner Scandal.


Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
                                                                                                    
Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Don Travis: Impotent-Chapter 3 (A Serial Novella)

Don Travis: Impotent-Chapter 3 (A Serial Novella): dontravis.com blog post #369 Courtesy of publicdomaininvectors.org Last week, Forrest De la Roche decided he wanted Austin Andino,...

Impotent-Chapter 3 (A Serial Novella)


dontravis.com blog post #369

Courtesy of publicdomaininvectors.org
Last week, Forrest De la Roche decided he wanted Austin Andino, and he’s accustomed to getting what he wants. But the power was on the other side this time. Austin is his rescuer. So what does De la Roche do? He puts his mind to work on the problem. As we pick up the story, they’re in Austin’s cabin with the storm still raging outside.

*****
IMPOTENT

Austin was in the small kitchen tossing steaks into a pan when De la Roche returned to the common room. “Hungry?”
“Famished. I had breakfast in Farmington, but didn’t take the time for lunch.”
“Hope you like beef.” Austin threw him a smile. “It’s sort of required around here.”
“Sounds great. Can I help? I toss a mean salad.”
“Have at it. Dig out what you need from the fridge.”
Preparation of the meal was passed in comfortable silence. De la Roche initiated conversation as they ate.
“You live here year-round?” he asked. Knowledge was power.
“I ship my cattle down and sell them in late October or early November. Have a little place outside of Albuquerque where I stay until the following spring when I buy some more stock and haul them up. Open up the cabin and live here the rest of the year.”
“Sort of a solitary life, isn’t it?”
The handsome man smiled. “Yeah, but I like it. I go overboard socializing during the winter and early spring, so I’m ready for a little solitude by the time I get back up here.”
“Any family?” the businessman inquired.
“Older sister and her family keep up the house in town while I’m gone. Other than that, just a couple of aunts and uncles. You?”
The bittersweet reminder of Elaine Madison De la Roche took him off for a moment. Beautiful, poised Elaine. They’d been married for twenty years when she caught him with their Filipino houseboy and used that to squeeze an additional twenty-five million dollars out of him during the divorce. Belatedly, he answered Austin’s question.
“An ex-wife, a really cool daughter who’s getting married for the second time next month, and two grandchildren.”
“Thought a gorgeous wife was required for a man in your position.”
He speared a piece of rare steak. “I’ve spent most of my life confounding the conventions. Maybe someday, but I’m not interested in complicating my life with a woman right at the moment. Why aren’t you married?” he shot back.
“Almost was,” Austin answered with a slight frown. “Got real serious with a girl my senior year at New Mexico State. She was a rancher’s daughter, so she knew what she’d be getting into. Went at it hot and heavy for awhile, but when we graduated, we sorta lost interest. I started riding for an outfit up north, and you can’t raise a family on a cowpoke’s wages. I bought a few head and ran them on a permit while I was cowboying for the Rocking Z, but it was slow going. While she was waiting around, somebody else came along. Never got serious over another one after that.”
“That’s surprising,” he opened his gambit.
“How come?” Austin asked.
“Guy who looks like you, built like you oughta have women hanging all over him.”
The young man grinned. “I didn’t say there weren’t any women. Just said there wasn’t a wife.” Once again, Austin turned it back on him. “Nobody in the wings for you?”
“Plenty of prospects. Lots of them willing and anxious to be Mrs. ConstructCo International, but I’m not so sure they’d be marrying me.”
Austin grinned again. “That’s not a problem for me. The Circle-A brand doesn’t attract a lot of fortune-hunters.”
“You’re something of a mystery to me,” De la Roche said slowly. “And I usually figure out people pretty quickly.”
“How’s that?”
“Let me tell you what I see. I see a young man hiding out up in the mountains caretaking a few head of cattle. Now this man is educated, physically healthy, well-built, and handsome as all get out. He has the strength and vigor to do about anything he wants. He owns a hundred acres in the middle of beautiful mountains not far off a major road. Right so far?”
Austin colored slightly. “Don’t know about the handsome part, but reasonably accurate. So what’s the mystery?”
“Where’s the ambition? Develop this property, sell it, and get something bigger. If ranching is your thing, this ought to be a down payment on a pretty good spread.”
Austin took his time answering. “If I ever sold this place it would be to somebody like me or to the Forest Service so that it would never be developed.”
“Ah, a Green,” De la Roche interrupted.
The young man thought it over. “Yeah, I guess. I love the mountains, Mr. De la Roche—”
“Forrest, please.”
“I wanted something I could do that would keep me in the mountains, so I started running cattle. They only allow a limited number of domestic animals in the Forest, so I ran on my own place until I could get limited grazing rights. I’m ambitious, Mr…uh, Forrest. But my ambitions lie in a certain direction. I’ll grow, but I’ll grow at the pace these mountains will let me. Does that make sense?”
“Perfect sense,” he replied. “Austin, I know squat about cattle ranching, but there are always ways to do things more efficiently. Describe your routine to me.”
For the next thirty minutes, De la Roche listened carefully as the young cowpoke laid out his operation.
“So the key to immediately increasing your herd is to get more production out of the hundred acres,” he said slowly.
“Not possible without overgrazing. I’m careful about that. In the long run you come out ahead by grazing light and allowing the land to sustain itself.”
“I can see that, but I recently read an article about something called ‘small-unit grazing.’ If I recall correctly, it consists of small pastures and rotating the cattle often. Is fencing expensive?”
“Not the way I do it,” the young man said thoughtfully. “I string it myself. I might be able to run a few more head, but that would be all.”
“A few more head? Ten percent more? Twenty?”
“Ten or fifteen.”
“Ten percent a year represents quite a gain in most businesses. I’d kill for a ten percent increase in some of my divisions.”
“I’ll think about it,” the young cowman agreed. “Right now, the whole hundred acres is under one fence. It would cut up into about four natural pastures, I think. It would mean handling the cattle more often, but maybe it’s worth a try.”
“Good!” De la Roche said, confident that their relationship had changed subtly. “Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to turn in and get some rest. It’s been sort of a hard day.”
“It’s my bedtime anyway,” Austin answered, rising from the table. “I get up early. I’ll try not to disturb you.”
“I’d like to go with you on your rounds tomorrow,” De la Roche said quickly. “There’s another bag I need to get from the Volvo. And frankly, I’m curious over what makes up a cowman’s day.”
“Work,” the young man responded immediately. “But I’ll make sure you’re up. The company will be welcome.”
As De la Roche turned back the covers in his tiny bedroom, the rain, which had hadn’t realized had stopped, began again. Still semi-aroused, De la Roche went to sleep to the monotonous, lulling sound of falling water.
He heard Austin before his half-closed door swung back. Backlit by the log fire, the young man appeared naked until he moved, revealing white jockey shorts. De la Roche’s first thought was that the beautiful cowboy was coming to him, but then the deep voice roused him sufficiently to realize that it was time to get up. Stimulated by his imagination, he had no trouble coming awake. He sat up to watch the graceful, near-naked figure stride manfully to the bathroom. It was still pitch-black outside.


*****
Has De la Roche managed to shift things slightly in his favor with his suggestion for improving Austin’s output? Did the fact the young cowboy came to wake him up while nearly naked mean anything, or was it simply his casual attitude about his body? Maybe Chapter 4 will tell us.

The following are buy links for the recently released The Voxlightner Scandal.


Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old dontravis21@gmail.com. PLEASE DON’T USE THAT ONE.)
                                                                                                    
Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:


See you next week.

Don

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Don Travis: Impotent-Chapter 2 (A Serial Novella)

Don Travis: Impotent-Chapter 2 (A Serial Novella): dontravis.com blog post #368 Courtesy of NeedPix.com Last week, we left our corporate executive Forrest De la Roche and his rescue...

Impotent-Chapter 2 (A Serial Novella)


dontravis.com blog post #368

Courtesy of NeedPix.com
Last week, we left our corporate executive Forrest De la Roche and his rescuer, cowboy Austin Andino, in the cab of Austin’s Jeep in the middle of a raging thunderstorm. Let’s pick it up from there.

*****
IMPOTENT

“What’re you doing out here in this storm?” the slickered figure asked.
“Acting the fool,” De la Roche answered. “Decided on the scenic route to San Ysidro same moment the Good Lord decided on the second flood.”
The driver flashed a smile that reached down into De la Roche’s groin. “Promised He wouldn’t do that. Didn’t anybody warn you August is our rainy season up here?”
“Wasn’t smart enough to ask,” he acknowledged. “Just took off blind.”
“And wrecked a fine piece of machinery. Lucky you crashed where you did. The road drops off into Cebolla Canyon at the top of that hill.”
He laughed harshly. “Tell me about it. I found a friendly tree before I went over the edge. The accident happened when I back-peddled down the road.”
The young man gave a chuckle that came up out of his belly. “Old Beulah’s saved more’n one careless soul.”
“Old Beulah? You name your trees around here?”
The driver pushed his hat to the back of his head, dribbling water down his slicker. “That one we do. She’s been Old Beulah for as long as I can remember. Where you headed?”
“Albuquerque. I have a meeting there tomorrow. I’ll be glad to pay you to drive me there. Square it with your boss or whatever.”
Another chuckle. Despite his misery, De la Roche became aroused.
“You could offer me a thousand dollars a mile and you’d still miss your meeting. Nobody’s going anywhere until the county or the Forest Service or the pipeline people get out the graders. Is it an important meeting?”
“Yes, but one of my execs can handle it. Do you have a phone at your place?”
“Cell. Not worth a damn in this weather.”
“Same as mine,” he acknowledged. “I feel so damned impotent! Well,” he patted his briefcase, “I’ve got a GPU in here. My people will pick me up by air as soon as the weather clears.”
“GPU? Ground Positioning Unit? Be damned! Haven’t seen one of those since I was in the army.” The young man stirred in the seat as if reminded of something uncomfortable. “You can stay at my place until then. According to the last radio report this storm’s a big one. Likely to last into tomorrow.”
“Appreciate your hospitality. Uh, is it far? Your place, I mean?”
“Couple of miles. I have a little spread up here. Run some cattle on my hundred acres and a permit in the Forest. All the land around here’s National Forest except for some private plots like mine here and there.” He tossed a thumb over his shoulder at the stock trailer. “Today I had to come for a cow with a bummed up leg.”
“Lucky for me that you did,” the executive commented.
The downpour became so heavy that driving demanded all of Austin’s attention and made conversation all but impossible. De la Roche watched the cowboy out of the corner of his eye and recalled the first time he’d been with a man…well, with a boy, anyway.
It had been in high school. Everyone on the soccer team debated about whether one particular kid was queer or not. In typical fashion, De la Roche stayed late one night in the locker room and waved a hard-on at the suspect. In a flash, the guy was on his knees in front of him. That was as far as he’d planned on taking things, but he lost the will to protest. He was shocked that the experience turned out to be genuine pleasure instead of mere relief. He never alleviated the team’s curiosity, but he never went back to the kid, either. Leaking water all over his side of the Jeep, he let out a small chuckle at the recollection.
Austin Andino’s ‘home place’ was an authentic log cabin that would have looked ramshackle if it had been big enough. Big common room, two small bedrooms and a bath plus a walk-in pantry. Maybe a thousand square feet, the engineer in De la Roche calculated. Tight, cozy. A solid sanctuary against inclement weather like this. In the middle of August, he was wet and chilled to the bone at around eighty-eight hundred feet above sea-level. Summer had disappeared… at least in these mountains.
The cowboy opened the door to the cabin and snapped on the lights. They promptly flickered and went out. “It happens every time we have a good rain, so I’m prepared.” The tall man soon had a log fire and kerosene lanterns casting a warm glow around the little building.
“Water’ll still be hot, Austin said. “You need a scalding bath to chase away the chill. I’ll lay out a couple of blankets to wrap up in after you finish. Whiskey’s under the sink, if you need a bracer. I’m gonna go tend my cow.”
“Need any help,” De la Roche asked, fighting to keep his teeth from chattering.
“No, thanks. Get dry and warm. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
When younger man was gone, he poured a straight shot of Wild Turkey and got out of his cold, sodden clothing. Under the hot spray of a shower bath, De la Roche rubbed life back into his numb limbs and gloried in the warmth.
Wrapped in two soft blankets, De la Roche wandered the cabin, feeling the need for activity. He was about to get dressed when Austin reentered, shaking off rainwater and shedding his Stetson and slicker. What had appeared a big, beefy man turned out to be a tall, rangy cowboy with the broad shoulders and deep chest of a gymnast, and the trim lower torso and hips of a horseback rider. By the firelight in the gloom of the rainy day, those attractive angles and planes De la Roche had noticed earlier settled into a remarkably handsome countenance. That wasn’t quite right. Too powerful and commanding to be classically handsome, the raw masculinity of Austin’s face overwhelmed the softer, somehow more feminine beauty of a mere Adonis. The power of the intense agate eyes alone made him striking. De la Roche was momentarily speechless, a phenomenon new and slightly uncomfortable.
“Got the leg fixed,” Austin said in a deep voice as he stripped off his damp shirt.
It took De la Roche a moment to realize the man was talking about his injured cow. Gawking at the smooth, broad chest loaded with muscles and finely pelted by short brown hair between the huge areoles, he closed his mouth with a snap before coming up with a response.
“No complications?”
“Nope. She’ll be all right. With beef prices the way they are, she represents a fair investment,” the cowboy said, drying his torso with a towel. “Of course, she wouldn’t even make a blip on your financial radar.”
De la Roche permitted his surprise to show. “You know who I am?”
Austin bent to a table, muscles rippling with the movement, and tossed him the US News and World Report issue that covered the acquisition of a pipeline company for something in excess of three billion dollars. There was a closeup of De la Roche in the article.
“When did you know?” he asked.
“What you said about your people picking you up by air.” Austin paused a moment and swiped at his flat, ridged belly with the towel, one of the most unconsciously erotic movements the older man had ever seen. “Just don’t try to throw your money at me.”
“You got a very important man out of a very bad jam, and that’s worth something in my world.”
“In mine, it’s simply being a good neighbor.”
The throaty growl grabbed De la Roche in the gut. “Well, neighbor, maybe I can reciprocate one day.”
“If you ever find me lost in the canyons of downtown LA, feel free,” the cowboy laughed.
“A rugged individualist. I like that.” He laughed, stimulated as much by what he heard as by what he saw.
Austin’s shower was by necessity a short one; De la Roche had used most of the hot water. In a few minutes, the cowboy strode into the room with a towel clasped around his trim waist, pausing only to indicate a door. “That’s your bedroom for the night.”
Feeling that an opportunity had been missed, De la Roche entered the small room and wiped down his soaked bag before throwing it on the bed. He donned a comfortable pair of chinos and an expensive sweatshirt, assessing the situation while he dressed. He wanted Austin Andino, and he was accustomed to getting what he wanted. But maybe this wasn’t the typical situation. The young man had already shown that he was not interested in his money. Although De la Roche was a handsome man in good physical shape, he seriously doubted that would get him what he wanted in this instance. What was left?
He sat on the bed and watched the rain soak the mountainside outside of the window. Viewed from the warmth and safety of a solid log cabin, it was beautiful… beautiful and nourishing. It made the mountains what they were. And what was Austin Andino? A cow man. An individualist. A maverick. Independent. A man who would respect power… be drawn to it.
But all the power lay on the other side at the moment. He was totally dependent on the young cowboy for his very existence for the next couple of days. He was more refugee than power broker. He had to change that. How? Not by bragging about his accomplishments; that would turn the young man off. It was simple. His mind was his power. Use it!

*****
It looks as though a mental gauntlet has been thrown down. Will Austin pick it up? Did he even recognize the industrialist’s attraction to him? We’ll see. Next week, Chapter 3

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