It was still raining when Hunter walked into the shower block more than an hour later. Automatically he shook the wet off his oilskin duster and took off his hat, making a stream of water run off that as well. He was so nervous he could barely breathe, yet he had to do this. He remembered feeling like this when he’d come home from school with bad grades one term and his mother made him wait in the mudroom for his dad to come in from the ranch. Only this time, he wasn’t going to be scolded. He simply wanted to convey his thanks to Grant and that was that. Yes, knowing that the wrangler was washing the rain off his skin, standing under the shower butt naked, was making Hunter sweat. Part of him hoped that Grant hadn’t shut the stall door all the way so he could catch a glimpse of him and could let his eyes wander over those broad shoulders and narrow hips, but another part of him knew that if that happened, he’d never be able to get the image out of his mind.
So he paced the small corridor that led to the shower cubicles, hat in hand and incessantly dripping, until he heard the shower being turned off. He knew Grant had to pass through the corridor on the way to the main house so it was simply a matter of being patient and Grant would come to him. Hunter couldn’t stand still, though, so he paced. He had just turned around when he heard Grant’s voice behind him.
“Hunter. What an unexpected pleasure.”
Straightening his back, Hunter turned to face him. “Grant,” he nodded. Hunter couldn’t look him straight in the eye, afraid he wouldn’t be able to hide his appreciation of the long limbs, the slightly rough skin, still wet with moisture, the fact Grant wasn’t wearing anything but a towel slung low on his hips. Suddenly Hunter was grateful Grant was carrying his wet clothes, otherwise he would have seen the dusting of chest hair or the washboard stomach he knew Grant possessed. Damn, there was a reason Hunter never went into the men’s shower block and it was because it would awaken feelings he tried every day to hide.
Grant was still staring at him, clearly expecting him to say something.
“I wanted… I wanted to say thank you.”
“My pleasure.” Grant nodded. “I didn’t think twice, to be honest. I saw Danny leave and I thought he might get into trouble so I followed him out. He’s too young to be out in this sort of weather on his own and on a horse he’s barely old enough to manage, so it was obviously without permission. I knew you’d never let him go out like that.”
“With his dad gone, he’s a bit messed up,” Hunter said, by way of apologizing for Danny’s behavior. “He seemed to be okay about it, but I guess he misses him.”
“Yeah, we all do,” Grant mused. “So he’s okay now?”
“Yeah,” Hunter said, still not looking directly at Grant. “He was shivering like mad and he’ll get an earful from Lisa as soon as she’s sure he’ll live, but other than a cold and a big scolding he won’t take anything away from it.”
“That’s good to hear,” Grant replied. “He’s a good kid.”
“Yeah, he is,” Hunter agreed, fiddling with his hat. “So what happened to that gate?” He knew he should let Grant get on with it, but he somehow had a hard time leaving.
“The storm dislodged it. Looked pretty bad and we couldn’t fix it, so we tied it up. We’ll have to repair it for good tomorrow.”
Hunter nodded, stealing looks from time to time, but not daring to feast his eyes. “Listen, I better let you run upstairs so you can get dressed, otherwise I’ll be responsible for you getting a cold as well.”
Grant smiled, so Hunter turned around to leave.
“I had the feeling you didn’t mind seeing me naked,” Grant added just before Hunter rounded the door.
Hunter stopped. He had to prevent himself from turning around and shouting something about Grant being an insolent prick, but instead he started walking again. With every step he took away from the crew house, he walked faster. Every step away made him realize that it was good that he hadn’t shouted at Grant, because he knew that the words would have only served to push Grant away, hoping that if his resolve not to kiss the man faltered, that Grant would move away from him, preventing the inevitable from happening. There it was. He’d admitted to himself that he wanted to kiss the man, push his body against Grant’s, and feel those hard muscles under his hands.
It was still raining when Hunter reached the mudroom at the side of the main house, but he didn’t walk in. Instead he smashed his fist against the worn wood. There was no reason to think that Grant would push him away if he returned to the crew quarters. He’d seen the way Grant had looked at him; he’d seen the unashamed lust in the man’s eyes; he’d felt the stolen touches, the way Grant always sought him out, despite the fact he hadn’t been very welcoming toward him. He’d only now allowed himself to understand them. The adrenalin of rescuing Danny was just ebbing away, but his heart was still beating fast. He was tired and wet to the bone, but all he could think of was that he needed to release the tension and his own hand wasn’t going to do. Not anymore.
Hunter turned around and paced back to the crew house. He had to get it out of his system, had to taste the forbidden fruit, just this once, and then maybe he would never again wonder ‘what if’? Hunter entered the house through the same door he’d left it earlier and almost ran up the stairs. Then he realized he had no idea which was Grant’s room. He had no other course of action than to call out his name. He hoped the other guys would either not recognize his voice or simply think that the boss was here to give Grant a hard time.
At the end of the corridor, a door opened and Grant stuck his head out. As soon as he saw Hunter he gestured for him to come inside his room.
“You’re back quick,” Grant said as soon as he closed the door behind Hunter. His voice was subdued as if he knew noises carried too far through the house.
Hunter didn’t answer. What could he say?
“Guess I don’t have to ask you if it’s still raining.”
Hunter looked up and gazed straight into Grant’s dark eyes. Grant’s smile was teasing and seductive and coupled with the fact that the towel that had only barely clung to Grant’s hips had been replaced by a pair of boxers and nothing else, made Hunter avert his eyes again.
“Why don’t you take your coat off?” Grant suggested. “You’re dripping all over my floor.”
Hunter hesitated, but Grant moved away, opening a closet and taking out a bottle of whiskey.
“Drink?” Grant offered
Hunter nodded and placed his duster over the chair standing next to the near wall while Grant took out two glasses and added about an inch of amber liquid to both of them.
“Here,” he said, offering one of the tumblers to Hunter. “It’ll help warm you up, because you must be cold by now and we can’t have the boss catching a cold, being as understaffed as we are right now.”
Hunter accepted the glass and downed the entire contents in one swallow. The liquid burned but Hunter welcomed the feeling. He gave Grant just enough time to take one sip and then took a step toward him.
Grant clearly noticed the overture and put his glass down on the table. He was still smiling as he reached for Hunter’s glass and just managed to bring that to safety before Hunter launched himself forward. Grant was roughly pushed against the window and as he spread his legs slightly, Hunter pushed even closer. Hunter’s kiss was rough and aggressive, but Grant could easily hold his own, even when his ass was pushed onto the window sill. He scooted back as far as he could and pulled Hunter to him. Hunter didn’t resist. In fact he pushed his groin against Grant’s and Grant felt Hunter’s arousal, which made him smile into the kiss.
“What’s so funny?” Hunter murmured.
“You are,” Grant answered as he put his hand on the back of Hunter’s neck to pull him back in for a kiss. This time Grant took the lead, pushing his tongue into Hunter’s mouth. Grant let go of Hunter’s hip to attempt to find his way into Hunter’s jeans. As they kissed, they fought for dominance until Grant found his prize and unzipped Hunter, inserting his hand into Hunter’s boxers and enveloping his swollen cock.
Hunter pulled back slightly, but didn’t move away. He stopped fighting Grant, his movements seeming automatic, slipping from Hunter’s control. The way Hunter was moaning against his mouth turned Grant on so much, he was rock hard inside his boxers as well. He resisted touching himself, not wanting to scare Hunter off. Instead he rubbed the hard shaft in his hands as Hunter was thrusting against the friction until without warning Hunter came with a loud moan. To Grant’s surprise Hunter did pull away this time, hurriedly zipping up his wet jeans and not looking at Grant before grabbing his coat and hat and running out before he’d had time to put them on.
Grant was left sitting on the window sill, rock hard and unsatisfied. He eventually got up to close his door and wash his sticky hand at the small sink in his room. His groin was aching and he took his cock in hand to finish himself off, simply to kill the dull ache, but it did little more than that. He let himself drop to his bed and rubbed his fingers through his short curly hair, trying to get over his frustration. Why did Hunter do that? Why hadn’t Hunter reciprocated? Grant couldn’t find an explanation that satisfied him. He hadn’t made a direct move toward Hunter before because he knew that Hunter was one of the few men who knew about his sexual preference. He imagined he wouldn’t need to advertise. If Hunter wanted him, he’d come to him; but now that he had, Grant was even more confused. The other reason had been that he needed the job. He’d been sent packing for far less than coming on to the boss. For some foremen, the knowledge that Grant was gay was enough. And news travelled. So all his life, Grant had played it like the others, by either staying vague about his sexual encounters or, in groups where it was commonplace to brag, he’d boast about his Saturday night conquests. It was surprisingly easy to lie about taking home some big-bosomed barfly. After all, Grant had had his fair share of women, just not lately. These past few years, he’d only slept with men, most of them nameless and faceless one night stands, with one exception: Gable.