The Wild Bunch: Spark by Deirdre O'Dare
Blurb: Spark, Stace, and Cass have been best buddies since their high school rodeo days. Now they work for a very special guest ranch that caters to gay men who need a break and escape from their high stress fast lane lives. Rainbow Ranch has a reputation for providing precisely the Wild West adventures each guest needs and desires with the cowboys of their hottest dreams.
Spark is all a-twitch when he learns Lou Vetrano is coming back for a second visit. He’s not used to guests making a lasting impression but there was something about the dashing Chicagoan he can’t get out of his system. Is too much change coming into his life too fast?
Lou had a great time on his first visit to Rainbow Ranch. He knows a lot of it was due to one blond hunk of a cowboy he can’t wait to see again. Soon he senses things are starting to get a lot more serious than he expected or planned. How can he make a cowboy fit into his high finance life and why does he want to try? Then an unexpected attack by a hungry puma helps him put all the pieces of this puzzle together.
Gila, New Mexico
What the fuck is wrong with me?
Josh "Spark" Diamond skidded to such a fast stop the horse he led through the aisle of the big barn almost ran him down.
Why am I daydreaming and all revved up over a guest, just 'cause he's been here before, 'cause he attached himself to me and 'cause he's really hot? No way! Me and Stace and Casa are the love 'em and leave 'em trio, the tumbleweed cowboys who never settle down. We don't hook up with guests except for their stay. That's always been our rule. We're the Wild Bunch.
Except that wasn't strictly true any more. Stace had broken the taboo with Jared Langford--and now Jared was relocating his digital media business from Burbank, California to Las Cruces, New Mexico just a two-hour drive to the southeast from Rainbow Ranch. That meant Stace would likely be spending considerable time there or Jared would be at the ranch... despite some undefined issues between him and the ranch owner, Jason Langford.
The three cowboys still speculated among themselves about that situation and the uncanny resemblance between the two. Still, this also meant the Wild Bunch was starting to unravel after the three of them being inseparable since high school.
For a few seconds, an icy fist clenched in Spark's chest. He might not be scared of bad horses, tough bulls, the wild predators in the Gila Wilderness or much else but this change thing bothered him a lot. And now Louis Vetrano was coming back for a second visit.
In a few more years, Vetrano would be able to play a Mafioso don on screen to perfection. Right now, his thick, wavy black hair was only air-brushed with silver along the temples and down in front of his ears and his handsome olive-toned face bore only the first traces of lines. He could pass for a movie star, but he ran a company in Chicago. He'd been vague about his business, and Spark had not inquired much. You didn't butt into guest's personal lives. It was apparently a very successful company anyway since he could afford two vacation trips to Rainbow Ranch in under a year. Spark knew such visits didn't come with a small price tag. This time, the Chicagoan had booked a full two weeks.
Usually, the three cowboys tended to divide up the special guests their boss marked for unique and individualized packages of adventure among themselves even before the guests arrived. At times, though, a guest would select the cowboy he wanted for his private host shortly after he arrived and force things to switch around.
That had happened a few months back when Jared Langford, Vetrano and a Texas oil and real estate mogul had all arrived about the same time. Stace had opted to take Langford and that match stuck from the start. Casa was supposed to host Vetrano, and Spark, who was from Texas, would take charge of the Texan, but it had not worked that way. Instead, Louis picked out Spark from the beginning and pretty well monopolized his time.
Tomorrow, the Chicago don would be back. Oh, he probably really wasn't a don, but he sure looked the part. Anyway, Spark would drive to Las Cruces to meet Vetrano when his plane arrived. That was routine. What was not routine was the way his heartbeat speeded up and his cock began to twitch at the mere thought of the masterful and fascinating Italian-American. Spark had almost insisted Casa go collect the returning guest but he couldn't do it. The idea of Louis with someone else simply did not compute.
Oh man, I think I'm in deep shit. Spark pulled himself together and focused on the immediate job--changing shoes on his big white-stocking sorrel so the horse would be ready for some travel the next few days. The twitchy nerves almost went away while he worked.
Shoeing even a gentle horse like Quatros Zuecos took a man's full attention because so much could go wrong. One false move could lame a horse or earn the farrier a nasty gash from a nail or a slipping steel shoe. Spark was too wise to go into the job distracted, but finding his focus didn't come easy today.
* * * *
"Hey, Lou, whattsa matter? You're as fidgety as a whore in church."
Louis Vetrano barely restrained a snarl at the question. Mike's not trying to be a wiseass--he really doesn't get it. He knew his assistant to be loyal to a fault and simply concerned by his boss's lapse from his normal calm and steady demeanor.
"Just too many loose ends to tie up, Mike. I've gotta leave first thing in the morning. Mixing business and pleasure this trip. That's why I want you here and ready to jump on some things if I send word. I'm looking into some hot investment possibilities in New Mexico. Getting a toe in their green technology door could do wonders for Vetrano Enterprises. Then maybe I'll squeeze in a week or two to relax at the dude ranch again. This winter has been hell on a skateboard."
A trace of relief slid across his assistant's well-lined face. Mike Comparo had been with Lou's father for years before Lou inherited his services along with the leadership of Vetrano Enterprises. Mike knew almost as much about the family and its business as Lou did.
Lou was not about to admit the visit to the dude ranch played a bigger and more unsettling part in his thoughts than did the investment opportunities. True, Vetrano Enterprises had taken some losses in the recession, but things were not that bad. A few wise moves could recoup those dollars and add a good many more if all went as planned. But the idea of spending more time with a certain cowboy--now that seemed a risky venture at best, but an opportunity Lou could not resist or refuse.
What am I doing, mooning over a good looking young stud--one who smells like horses and probably has straw between his ears when it comes to high finance and all the things that have always mattered to me? If I wanted a boy toy, I could find plenty more amenable candidates right here at home.
Yeah, the sex was great and probably will be again, but that's not enough to build anything real around. I've got to get a grip. He's not much more than a prostitute--giving satisfaction and playing the game because it's his job. Only thing is, he sure does a fucking good job!
Not until Lou's plane finally lifted into the air the next morning did he manage to settle down. Once on the way, his worries seemed to fade into the hazy sky as the plane nosed up through the clouds. He settled back in his seat, flipped open his latest gadget, the newest smart phone-cum-computer, and set a few business projects into motion. After that, he glanced through the few fast photos he'd managed to capture of Josh "Spark" Diamond, the cowboy he was itching to see again.
He'd looked at them a hundred times, but it wasn't enough. Yeah, the westerner looked good enough from every angle to devour like a rare steak, but until you could hear his husky drawl and lay a hand on his hard, hot body, it wasn't nearly enough.
Soon... just hours now, not days or weeks.