Monday, 11 April 2016

Have you read Luke's Present?

Good morning to Luke's Present. The fourth book in the Morning Report series, but actually a Christmas stand alone book. This book is for the people who wanted a little something for Luke and Simon, the gorgeous owners of the Lost Cow Ranch. Today is their day.

Buylinks

E-books: Dreamspinner | Amazon

Paperback in Letters From a Cowboy: Dreamspinner | Amazon

Audiobook:  Audible | iTunes | Amazon

Bundle: Dreamspinner AmazonAll Romance

Translation: Italian

Blurb

Lost Cow Ranch foreman Simon Bryan is worried about Luke, his boss and possessive partner of twelve years. Reeling from the flood that took his horse, Luke has postponed surgery on his knee, and his nightmares have been escalating. Worse, he is pulling away from Simon emotionally. Desperate to help his lover cope, Simon plans a special Christmas gift, but it is Luke’s present that changes their relationship forever.


Morning Report Series

Excerpt:




SIMON BRYAN gritted his teeth as he heard the barn door move. Even though he’d ridden Del a ways to hide in the most dilapidated building on the ranch, he’d still been found. Goddammit, he just needed half an hour alone without another question about Christmas. Scowling, Simon looked up to see who the intruder was, but at the sight of the person standing in the doorway, he relaxed. At this moment, the only person in the world who could take the frown off Simon’s face was his gorgeous lover and possessive pain in his ass.

Luke Murray grinned apologetically at him, tipping his hat back so Simon could see his expression, full of amusement. “Sorry, babe, I know you came here to hide.”

Simon leaned back against the old bales of straw and patted his lap. “Not from you. You’re the only one I’m pleased to see.”

He wasn’t as pleased to see the way Luke limped over to him, leaning heavily on his cane, and he pressed his lips together to prevent saying the words that threatened to spill out. Luke was still in constant pain from his injured right knee after being caught in a flash flood some months before.

Luke had postponed the operation to repair his knee four times now, always putting it down to crises on the ranch. Simon knew Luke had been warned if he didn’t have the operation soon, the damage would be too severe and the knee would be inoperable. Short of kidnapping Luke and tying him to the hospital bed, Simon was running short on ideas of ways to force Luke to take the time out to have the operation.

Simon knew Luke had been up before five mucking out the stalls despite having been told expressly to keep off the knee. Since the accident, Luke suffered from nightmares about being swept away by the water. If Simon woke, he would make love to Luke to chase the bad dreams away, but quite often Luke would quietly get up and start work rather than disturb Simon.

“Come here and sit on my lap,” Simon said, tugging Luke down gently without giving him a chance to argue.

Luke rolled his eyes but Simon noticed he didn’t protest much, sighing in relief as he took the weight off his injured knee.

Simon opened his mouth but Luke raised a hand to forestall him. “Don’t bother. I know what you’re gonna say.”

“Don’t need to say it, then, dumbass.” Simon couldn’t be bothered to start a fight. All he wanted was to feel the heavy weight of his lover in his arms. He still remembered the hours Luke was missing. Luke wasn’t the only one who had nightmares. Simon was just better at hiding them.

With a sigh of relief, Luke buried his face in Simon’s neck. Simon grinned as Luke took an audible sniff. His man was very visceral.

“Christ, I need this. If I hear that word one more time I’m gonna scream,” Luke muttered.

Simon smiled against Luke’s dark-blond hair. “Word?”

“The C-word. Did you know Momma was thinking of asking the whole congregation to dinner?”

“Where is she setting out the tables?”

“In the church. It’s the only place big enough.” Luke wriggled until he got his hand under Simon’s shirt to touch his warm skin, huffing happily as he reached his goal, his breath ghosting over Simon’s skin.

“This morning she was working out turkeys. She does know we eat beef, right?” After an hour of listening to Pamela’s discussion about how many turkeys they would need for the slow cooker, Simon had been ready to bang his head against the wall.

“I love my momma, but Christmas is turning into a state fair rather than a family Christmas. I thought we’d done this at Thanksgiving.”

Simon was getting distracted by the feel of Luke’s nails scritch-scratching over his belly. “She does seem to have gone overboard.”

“I think it’s a reaction to everything that’s happened this year. She wants everyone together where she can see them.” Luke took his time sucking a mark into the base of Simon’s throat so it took a while for him to get the sentence out.

Luke and Simon didn’t do Christmas at the Lost Cow Ranch. Momma did Christmas at the ranch, and Luke and Simon went along for the ride because honestly, it was easier than trying to argue. After twelve years, they knew better than to say to Luke’s mother what they’d really like was a quiet day with just the two of them curled up on the sofa, making out like they used to in college, with no agenda other than to enjoy each other’s company.

Only once Luke had made that suggestion, but the hurt look on Momma’s face had him backing down and agreeing to Christmas dinner with the whole ranch and extended family invited. Now it was just tradition, and with the events of the past year, and the church on the ranch, the celebrations had gotten more extensive and the family even larger. This year, the families of both Pastor Noah and his partner, Tommy, were joining them, as Tommy and Noah insisted they were spending Christmas together.

The day after Christmas? That was their day. Just Luke and Simon together, in the house, with Luke tied to the bed. Simon shivered at the prospect.

“It’s been a shitty year,” he agreed.

“And the year before.” Luke murmured the words into Simon’s skin, sending a wave of goose-bumps down to Simon’s cock.

“Stop talking. I don’t wanna think about what’s happened.” Simon didn’t want to think at all. He pressed his neck into Luke’s mouth.

Luke sucked another hickey into Simon’s skin. He took one of Simon’s hands and pressed it against his hardening cock. “Don’t, then. Suck me off.”

“Uh-uh. You don’t get to make the decisions,” Simon said, squeezing Luke’s prick through his jeans.

Luke answered Simon by thrusting up into his hand. “You decide, then. As long as I get off I don’t care what you do.”

“Behave,” Simon warned, “or you don’t get off at all.” He was aware that his warning would have been more effective if he hadn’t been cupping and squeezing Luke until there was a wet patch seeping through Luke’s jeans. As a pretense of being in charge, Simon took his hand away.

Luke’s eyes flew open. “Bastard,” he hissed, flailing one arm out to capture Simon’s hand to put back where he wanted.

“You want me to blow you?”

“Please.”

Simon loved the way Luke begged for his mouth, his cock, his body. Luke loved being touched by Simon and only Simon. Over the years, a lot of men had wanted to touch Luke, but Luke hadn’t seen a single one. He'd only had eyes for Simon, and Simon reveled in that fact. “Stand up, baby.”

Lost in the haze of desire, Luke stood, bearing weight on his damaged knee. He screamed in pain as his knee buckled and he fell, only prevented from landing heavily on the ground by Simon’s strength.

“Shit, shit.” Simon pulled Luke awkwardly back onto his lap. “Are you okay?” He looked at Luke’s face, seeing lines of pain around his lips and eyes and the chalky white of his face.

“Define okay,” Luke gasped out after a minute.

“Are you gonna puke?” Simon had seen Luke throw up more than once when the pain had gotten too much for him.

“Can I get back to you on that?”

Simon held Luke against his broad chest, rubbing soothing circles into Luke’s back as he let his lover recover from the worst of the pain.

After a while, he glanced down at Luke’s face, relieved to see the pinched look had eased. “Better?” he asked, relieved when Luke nodded. “I’m gonna call Chuck and get him to take you back to the house.”

“Don’t need help,” Luke growled. “I can drive myself.”

“Luke, you can’t even stand up,” Simon said, exasperated by Luke’s stubbornness.

In defiance of his words, Luke tried to stand only to fall back. “Gimme a minute.” Luke tried to get up again, but Simon wrapped his arms around Luke, preventing him from moving.

“That is it. I have had enough. Cowboy up, princess, you ain’t made of sugar. You aren’t moving until you tell me why you won’t have surgery. Dammit, Luke, I wanna know what’s going on.”

Luke looked away, refusing to meet Simon’s gaze. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Bullcrap,” Simon said bluntly. “You’ve postponed the operation four times now. Every time, you’ve come up with some excuse and I bought it, but I know you’re avoiding the surgery, and I want to know why.”

“I’m not avoiding the operation,” Luke protested, but he still wouldn’t look Simon in the eyes.

“Luke, what the heck is going on in that stubborn head of yours? If you have the operation then you can ride again, and go back out onto the ranch. I know how being confined to the house and the yard has chafed on you.” Simon lifted Luke’s hat and tapped his temple. “You’re no coward, so what is going on?”

“I don’t….”

“If you say ‘I don’t know what you mean’ one more time, I’m going put you over my knee and spank your ass hard. And it won’t be fun or sexy. You won’t be able to sit down for a week.” Simon rarely pulled stern Dom on his partner, but he’d gone past pissed and was working himself up to livid.

Luke chewed on his bottom lip. Simon tugged on the abused lip to free it and kissed it better.

“Please, Luke,” he said more gently. “Tell me what’s going on.”

“I don’t know, all right?” Luke sounded distressed.

“I don’t believe you. I think you do know. You just won’t discuss it.”

“It’s stupid.”

Simon rubbed Luke’s back, feeling the knobs of his spine even through the flannel shirt. Luke had lost weight since the accident. It wasn’t that Simon hadn’t noticed, it was just that he hadn’t paid attention to how the pounds had fallen off Luke’s bones. “Nothing is stupid, but unless you tell me, I can’t help.”

“You’re wrong,” Luke burst out.

Simon frowned. “Wrong about what?”

“’Bout me. I am a coward.”

“No, you’re not. You’re the bravest man I know,” Simon insisted, bewildered, as Luke shook his head.

Luke closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he stared at Simon, who could see the distress in his green eyes. “It’s… they said I can ride again… when I’ve had the op… but I’m scared, Simon. I’m fucking scared to go out.”

Astonished, Simon stared at his partner. He’d expected Luke to say he hated hospitals or was worried about the operation. “You’re scared of riding again?”

“Scared of riding, scared of going out on the land, scared of being a cowboy. Ain’t nothing that I’m not scared of at the moment. Except you. You’re the only stable thing in my life.”

Simon was completely thrown and unable to answer for a moment. He patted Luke’s back as he tried to assemble his thoughts. “Come with me.”

“Huh?”

“Come with me.” He stood, then held out his hand to pull Luke to his feet.

Luke brushed off his ass. “Where are we going?”

“To take the four-wheelers out. You need to get away from the house. We’ll take the truck back and go ride fence for a couple of hours.”

“I should get back to the accounts. And it fucking hurts to get on the quads.”

Simon could feel the tension in Luke’s body. “We’ll go slowly. Come on, Luke, you’re a cowboy. When was the last time you saw any of the cattle?”

“That’s what my foreman is for. I see the horses and the fuckin’ chickens.”

“You manage a successful ranch, yet you’re spending more time with the figures than the animals. And you hate the chickens.”

Luke scowled at him. “Someone’s got to.”

“Shelley can do that. Now quit stallin’ and come with me.” It was time to take Luke in hand again. Simon forgot that Luke occasionally needed topping outside the bedroom. He slung his arm around Luke’s shoulder and they walked out to the truck Luke had used. “I’m gonna call Chuck to get someone to ride Del and then I’m gonna drive us back to the yard.”

“I’ve got work to do and so have you.”

“Yep. I’ve gotta get my boss out of the office.” He pushed Luke gently toward the truck. “You have to do this, Luke. I mean it.”

Luke grabbed at the passenger door of his truck, resisting Simon’s efforts to manhandle him into the vehicle. “I don’t need this, Simon. We got Christmas comin’ up. I should be helping Momma.”

“You gotta be joking. You would rather sort turkeys than be out on the ranch?” Simon took a step back, shocked to the core.

Luke slumped against the door. “I guess not.” He looked up at Simon with a pained expression. “I’m falling apart. I guess I need that shrink you’ve been nagging me about.”

Simon tugged Luke into his arms. “Well, hallelujah, the man has finally seen sense.”

“Fuck you, Simon.” Luke tried to pull away but Simon wouldn’t let go.

“The only person who is going to be doing the fucking is me, Mr. Murray. Now, in the truck.” Simon followed his words with a firm smack to Luke’s butt.

Luke yelped, glaring at Simon, but when he got nothing more than a raised eyebrow, Luke subsided grumpily and got into the truck.

Simon called Chuck to come retrieve his horse later in the day. Then he took a few minutes to untack Del. The horse had a fresh pasture and access to shade and water, so Simon was happy to leave him there.

“I’ll rub you down later,” Simon promised, stroking Del’s strong neck. Del flicked his ears irritably, seemingly unimpressed with Simon’s apology.

By the time he got back to the truck, Luke had closed his eyes. He jumped when Simon slammed the door shut.

“I wasn’t asleep,” Luke said before Simon had a chance to open his mouth.

“Did I say you were?” Simon was getting good practice at arching his eyebrows today.

Luke grunted and closed his eyes again. It didn’t escape Simon’s notice that Luke looked drawn in the face again.

He trailed a finger along Luke’s jaw, feeling the stubble catch his skin. “How bad is the pain?” Simon asked.

“Bad enough,” Luke said.

“You’re not up to taking the quads out, are you?”

Luke hesitated.

“If you say no because of the pain, I don’t think you’re a coward.”

“Don’t think I could even drive at the moment,” Luke muttered, shifting restlessly in his seat.

“That’s what I thought. You got any painkillers?”

“In the glove box, but I don’t need ’em.”

Simon ignored Luke, because the man was a total idiot sometimes, and dug around in the glove box. He handed Luke two capsules and a bottle of water. “Just rest for a while,” he said. Simon had a plan, and if Luke fell asleep, all the better. He pulled away as smoothly as he could, trying to avoid the potholes in the dirt road. He looked over to see Luke gritting his teeth.

“You need me to drive you to the hospital?” he asked.

“No. The meds’ll kick in soon—I hope.”

Luke’s face was greenish gray, and he looked like he was either gonna hurl or pass out. Simon wasn’t laying any bets on which one happened first.

Back in the yard, Simon took the direct approach. He helped Luke out of the truck and picked him up off his feet.

“Put me the fuck down!” Luke spluttered, banging Simon’s back.

Simon nearly dropped Luke in surprise, and had to heft him up a little. “Quit that or you’ll end up with both knees fucked up.” He took Luke into the house and headed straight for their bedroom, placing his burden on the unmade bed. “Get some rest. When you wake up I’m taking you out.”

Luke eyed him suspiciously. “Where?” He struggled to sit up, only to have Simon push him back down.

“Sleep it off, Luke. I gotta get back out with Jack and Pete. I’ll let Shelley know you’re here.” Simon grinned at his lover. “Be a good boy, and I promise to reward you later.”

“Promise?” Luke asked sleepily.

“I promise.”

Luke forced one eye open to look at Simon. “It better involve steak and sex.”

“I can do that.” Simon leaned over and kissed Luke on the mouth, resisting Luke’s attempts to prolong the kiss. “Sleep.”

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