Shaking his head, Christian pulled out and headed straight for the Quickie Mart. Two chili cheese dogs were in order. He wasn’t about to face an irate best friend on an empty stomach. And after shoveling gravel for eight solid hours on the road crew, he was starved.
Gathering up his dogs and a giant soda, he turned the truck back toward Tucker’s ranch. As he passed the wide open fields and the blue smudge of mountains on the horizon, all he could see were Claire’s eyes, bright with anger. Swimming with tears.
“Man,” he murmured and cranked the wheel to avoid two human-sized potholes in front of the driveway leading to the ranch.
As he bumped up the lane, he horked down the second chili dog and slurped the remainder of the soda. Tucker was gonna be pissed. Not only had he returned his truck with three thousand dollars’ worth of damage, he’d left The Hellion without the six-pack.
Dammit, he couldn’t help but think Tucker deserved it.
Leaving his trash for his friend to take care of, Christian mounted the three solid wood porch steps to the front door. The ranch was picturesque against the satiny blue sky.
Dark wood with real working shutters and a glass door, the old homestead of the Langley family had been restored by Tucker’s own hand. He’d spilled a lot of blood and sweat on this land, making his ranch one of the finest horse farms in the county.
Christian pushed open the door and clomped across the mudroom. In the living area, Tucker was kicked back in the recliner with the remote in hand.
Christian’s cock stirred at the sight of his friend in this position. How many times had they sat in this same space, watching porn and jacking off together?
For two years, they’d been enjoying this intimacy. Watching, urging on the other. But their rule was hands off, and Christian wanted nothing more than to jump that gap from friends fucking around to more.
He was work boots over hard hat in love with this guy.
Tucker met his gaze. The shoulder-length hair that Christian longed to run his hands through covered one smoldering eye. “Got the beer? I’ve got the movie.”
Christian’s cock reacted instantly, stretching, battering his fly. Last night they’d shared a woman, not a self-love session. Actually, Tucker hadn’t participated, just stood at the bedside with his cock in his fist, watching Christian love on the woman. And now that he thought of it, he realized this was most likely the reason for Claire’s fury.
The scent of pine woods and strong coffee filled Christian’s head as he drew a deep breath. He sank to the edge of the couch. “Not exactly.”
“What’s that mean? You get the beer or not?”
Christian raked his fingers through his short hair. “I paid for it but left without it.”
Confusion creased Tucker’s brow. “Not followin’, friend.”
Plow on. “I ran into someone at The Hellion.”
“Yeah?” That rough, drink-nails-for-breakfast voice ripped through Christian’s senses. The same voice drove him wild as Tucker pumped out his pleasure.
“Yeah, a hot little number by the name of Claire.” He drew her name out on his tongue, testing its flavor. Hell, it even tasted like her. Decadent with a hint of quirkiness.
The corner of his mouth tipped up.
Tucker stared at him hard. “What the hell happened, man?”
Was that jealousy he read on Tucker’s face? “It seems Claire was mighty upset by something. So upset, in fact, that she beat the living fuck out of your truck.”
At that, Tucker laughed out loud. “She weighs a hundred and ten pounds dripping wet. How much damage could she have done?”
Christian scraped his fingers over his scalp. “Quite a bit with a baseball bat.”
Tucker’s eyes bugged out, and in a flash, he was on his feet and storming out the door. Christian didn’t budge from his spot, one ear cocked, waiting.
A howl of rage drifted in. A few seconds later, Tucker’s violent footfalls preceded the man.
“I know,” Christian cut him off. “Question is what did you do to her?”
Tucker dropped abruptly to the sofa arm and buried his head in his hands. “I stood her up last night.”
Just as Christian had suspected. Instead of staying with one girl who he might fall for, Tucker ran out and found one to share with Christian.
“You’re runnin’ again.”
Tucker snapped his head up and he leveled his glare at Christian. Gaining his feet, Christian stared him down. Dammit, it was time to intervene. If Tucker wouldn’t come around and accept a relationship with Christian, he needed to at least set up house with a sweet little gal and have a string of horse-riding babies.
His friend clenched his hands into fists. “And you’re crossin’ a line.”
“Man, you can’t keep doing this. Running from these girls who might change your world.”
Christian’s stomach bottomed out at the memory of Claire’s words. I thought he was the real thing.
“Shut up, Davis. You don’t know what you’re talking about, and it’s none of your goddamn business.”
None of my business that you didn’t join in last night because your heart is in a relationship, even if your hard head won’t allow it?
“Yeah,” Christian said, brushing past Tucker on the way out, “it’s never my business.”