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C1 Chapter One

Colby Vincent whistled as he stocked the shelf at the Valero store where he worked. He liked the late shift, working from midnight until six in the morning. He’d always been a night owl through and through, which had made school difficult more often than not. Maybe if he’d slept better, he’d have had the grades to get into college, but thinking along those lines didn’t do him any good now.

It was generally slow in regards to having customers, which was fine with him. Plastering on a smile and acting cheery was getting harder to do every day. Some people had a problem with him, and it was getting old. He supposed it came with being the only out gay man in town. Even so, he didn’t deserve to experience some of the things he did.

At least at his second job as a cook at Rio’s Mexican Café he didn’t have to worry about greeting customers. Plus, Rio and his nephew Berto were cool. Rio always gave Colby the old copies of American Cowboy and True Cowboy when the newer ones came in the mail. Maybe he should have been tired of cowboys, considering he lived in a town that had a bunch of them.

But they tended to be old, and not to be the sexy or unbigoted kind. The ones in the magazines were unknowns and he could fantasize about them if he wanted to without feeling disgusted for doing so. He’d be damned if he’d ever get off while thinking about any of the hateful people who’d crossed his path, cowboys or not. Colby did have his pride, after all.

He put the small packages of Oreo cookies in their place after having removed the outdated ones. Colby’s stomach rumbled. He pressed a fist to his belly until the dull ache backed off. When it was time for him to take a break, he’d see what his options were.

A few minutes later, a buzzer sounded and the door opened. Colby glanced over his shoulder, making sure it wasn’t some psycho wielding a weapon. Working at a convenience store, he always worried about becoming a victim of violent crime.

His co-worker, Christy, was working the counter—well, playing on her phone—and didn’t even give the customer a first glance, much less a second one. Colby stood up, having been hunched over to get the Oreos on the shelf just right. He turned and eyed the man who was now walking toward the fountain drinks.

“This coffee fresh?” the man asked loudly.

Christy popped her gum.

Colby rushed out of the aisle and over to the coffee container. “Yes, sir. I just made it about fifteen minutes ago.”

The customer, an older man with darkly tanned skin, smelled of oil and sweat. He had on a familiar one-piece blue coverall uniform that was filthy. The name Olivares was stitched on the right chest pocket. A quick check showed that he’d also tracked mud in all over Colby’s freshly cleaned floors. Colby just barely kept from cursing.

“Better not taste like shit,” the customer muttered. He raked Colby with a look, and Colby knew the instant he suspected Colby wasn’t as straight as he was. A sneer tugged his thin lips into an ugly expression. “ You made it?”

Colby plastered on one of those bright smiles that felt so unnatural on his face. “I’m sorry, sir. I meant Christy made it. I’ve been stocking the aisles.”

He’d learned that people would believe what they wanted to believe, and if the jerk wanted his coffee bad enough, then said jerk would accept the obvious lie about who made the coffee—especially since he didn’t seem to want to drink any made by a queer boy.

“As long as you didn’t,” Olivares finally said in a hateful tone. “Wouldn’t wanna catch nothing.”

Colby waited until he turned around to roll his eyes. There was no point in correcting the idiot’s grammar, and besides, Colby liked thinking that maybe karma would take over. Let the obnoxious jerk catch something harder to treat than crabs.

While the customer fixed his coffee, Colby slipped over to Christy and managed to get her attention. “He thinks you made the coffee. Don’t tell him different or he’s liable to lose his shit.”

Christy had the same reaction he’d had, rolling her eyes. “One of those fuckheads, huh?” She snapped her gum. “Well, his coffee is gonna cost him.”

Colby didn’t ask. He suspected that Christy overcharged people, and at times kept their change—or some of it at least. There’d been a couple of customers who’d caught on that they hadn’t gotten the right amount of cash back, and Christy had always apologized and put on like she was an airhead who couldn’t count out the money right. Since she was a good actor, pretty and had a great smile, no one had challenged her on that. Colby really didn’t want to know if she was stealing, though. She was one of the few friends he had, and it’d be hard not to judge her if he knew for sure she was doing something illegal like that.

Blinders were good things to have on when it came to friends, at least he thought so. It wasn’t like he was perfect, either. He’d been known to chow down on a burrito that should have been tossed on more than one occasion.

Well, only once with the burrito. The after effects of that particular culinary adventure had not been good. But the fried chicken wasn’t bad when it was time to replace it, and neither were the potato wedges. The burgers were okay, too, unless they’d reached hockey puck levels of hardness.

He didn’t steal money from people, though, just the food that was being tossed anyway. If he hadn’t been so hungry, Colby wouldn’t have done that, either. At first his conscience had pricked at him. Now it didn’t, so who knew? Maybe he’d be fine with Christy robbing people blind.

Colby kept himself busy stocking the rest of his shift, and no more asshole customers came in, so that was good. He also managed to wolf down a piece of chicken and some cold potato wedges before leaving for his second job.

Rio’s was another six hour shift, and he got a hot meal at the end of it. Colby’s back ached like a mother when he was finally able to sit down to eat his beef chimichanga. He’d made it himself, filling the tortilla with beef, cheese and beans, then rolling the tortilla over the ingredients before deep-frying the whole thing. Topped with sour cream, lettuce, guacamole and the best hot sauce in the world, the chimichanga was an artery-clogging feast that he didn’t allow himself to have often.

Colby was in heaven as he slowly ate. He licked his fingers clean, uncaring of anyone who might be watching him. Hunger was something Colby hated but lived with far too often, so he savored every good meal he had.

The sweet tea cooled his burning tongue and throat. Colby felt someone watching him but ignored the sensation. People looked, gossiped—whatever—and he did his best to ignore them. They didn’t know him, and he wouldn’t ever let them.

But this time his skin prickled with goosebumps. He wasn’t sure if he should be creeped out or not. With the oil boom in the area thanks to the discovery of EFS, or Eagle Ford Shale, there were a lot of people in the area that Colby didn’t know. Most of them were like the grumpy asshole customer from the gas station earlier. They sneered at him and made rude comments, but so far none had actually tried to hurt him—physically. He’d been wounded the first time one of those same jerks who looked at him like he was dog shit had offered to let Colby suck him off. Like he’d be doing Colby a favor.

Colby wasn’t dumb. He hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck, as his grandma used to say. He knew exactly who’d be getting the favor out of such a deal, and he also knew it’d make him a target even more than refusing to hide in the closet had.

So for all he knew, it was just some creeper thinking maybe Colby was so gay he couldn’t say no to any dick. People’s ignorance never failed to surprise him. Some day he might be cynical enough that it no longer did. He didn’t know if he looked forward to that day or dreaded it.

Colby ate his chimichanga with that feeling of being watched on him almost constantly. He refused to turn around and see if someone was staring at him. If they were, it was nothing to him. If they weren’t, then he saved himself from looking stupid.

He finished up his meal and wiped his face with the napkin. He stacked his silverware on the plate, then took it and his glass to the back.

When he did so, he couldn’t quite stop himself from using his peripheral vision to see if he was being ogled. What he got a view of was a broad back in one of those blue coveralls, and that was enough to make sure he didn’t look again. All the oil field guys were to be avoided, as far as he was concerned.

“You need a ride?” Berto asked when Colby had cleaned his dishes.

Colby almost wept with gratitude. “That’d be great, Berto.” He was worn out and just wanted a few hours’ sleep before getting up and working again.

Berto was one of the few guys who didn’t seem to think the gay was catching. He’d been a grade ahead of Colby, and while they hadn’t been friends—and still weren’t, exactly—Berto had never been an asshole to him.

“I brought the bike today—and an extra helmet.” Berto flashed a white grin. He took off his dirty apron and tossed it in the pile of wash that Larry, who cleaned the restaurant up once it was closed, would deal with.

Colby didn’t have to fake a smile for Berto. “The bike? Oh man. Can you take the long way home?”

Berto chuckled at that. “You know it. Like there’s much of a long way anywhere in this shithole of a town.”

Colby wondered what dreams Berto might have had. He’d never been the best football player or the smartest kid in class, so maybe Berto hadn’t been able to get into the college he wanted, either.

Or maybe he was just happy working at his uncle’s café, despite his diss to the town of Ballotsville. Colby got that. It was easy to stay somewhere because it was comfortable.

The motorcycle ride woke Colby up a little, especially when they were almost hit by an eighteen-wheeler driven by a fucker with no regard for any other traffic. Colby nearly pissed himself then—which would have ended up with Berto being really angry had it happened. As it was, his heart was racing and his bladder cramping when Berto stopped the bike in front of Colby’s decrepit rented trailer.

“Thanks, Berto,” Colby said, dismounting and handing Berto the helmet back. “See you tomorrow.”

Berto took the helmet and gave him a thumbs up. “Think I’ll drive the truck tomorrow. Almost shit myself there for a minute.”

Colby giggled. They’d have made a mess between the two of them had they not managed to hold back. “You kept us safe.”

“Barely. I’m considering selling the bike, to tell the truth. Too many big rigs and idiots on the roads out here now.” Berto didn’t wait for a reply. He just drove off.

It’d be a shame for him to sell the bike, but Colby understood his reasoning. Traffic deaths had skyrocketed in their little town and the surrounding areas over the past couple of years. The oil industry was booming, bringing money and some new businesses to the area, but it took its toll, too.

The trailer was hot inside, hotter than the temperature outside. Colby ignored it as best he could, only turning on the small window air conditioner in his bedroom. He couldn’t afford a big electric bill or even a moderate one, not if he wanted to move away from the area someday in the future. Hopefully he’d even be able to move out of the state, too.

He’d had big dreams, once. Other people wouldn’t necessarily consider them big, but they had been for him. All he’d wanted was to move away to a big city, somewhere with more people like him. Sometimes he didn’t think he would fit in anywhere. Having been adopted, he’d always been the odd one out in his family in regards to looks.

But it was more than that, though he couldn’t pinpoint what, exactly, made him feel so much like an outcast besides being gay. He’d been aware that he didn’t fit in long before he’d come to understand that he was gay. It’d been a sensation with him from his earliest memories of such things.

He didn’t want to think about it anymore. Not about his family, or how much of a weirdo he felt like at times. Instead he pondered his life in the here and now.

There were a few closeted guys in the county, but that wasn’t how Colby wanted to live his life. Even if he had… Well, he’d blown that when he’d come out at fifteen, unwilling to be anyone other than himself. Unable to, because that was just the way Colby was.

Spending his life alone wasn’t his preference, either, and that’s the way it’d play out if he didn’t get away from Ballotsville. Someday, he’d be able to shed the town like a dog shedding its winter coat.

The tiny bathroom held a faint odor of mold, no matter what Colby did to try to get rid of it. He wrinkled his nose at the smell as he stripped out of his dirty clothes, ignoring his reflection in the dinged up mirror above the sink. He knew what he looked like—short, blond, younger than he was. Colby had no illusions about his appearance. He was okay but nowhere close to movie star handsome. Maybe he could be the quirky gay friend, though.

However, he could think of a few movie stars that weren’t handsome. He shrugged off his drifting thoughts and put his laundry in the hamper. The trailer might have been old and ratty, but he kept it clean. Colby hated messes.

The shower was too warm, as it always was during the summer. Whoever had installed the pipes for the water lines hadn’t settled them very deep into the ground. Cold water simply didn’t happen when it was above eighty degrees outside. Considering the part of Texas he lived in frequently hit triple digits in the summer, Colby was used to the water temperature.

He scrubbed off thoroughly, quickly, making sure to condition his hair properly. Vanity was only a slight issue with him. Colby honestly didn’t spend a whole lot of time fretting over his looks. His hair, however, he liked to pamper, and he did have to combat dry skin and early wrinkles. Even though he was adopted, Colby still thought of the deep lines in his father’s sun-damaged face and it made him cringe.

A little lotion and moisturizer only took a couple of minutes to apply. His hair could take a little longer. It was to his shoulders and soft, wavy, almost curly—still the same corn silk blond it’d been when he was a little boy. His brothers and sisters had all been brunettes, and while Colby used to hate looking so different from them when he was a kid, now he was grateful for it.

Colby considered jacking off then decided he was too tired for it. He’d need another shower before work, and if he had the energy at that point, he’d do something about it.

It seemed almost a sin for a guy his age to be so passive about getting off. Surely he was breaking the Man Code or whatever macho name could be slapped to the often unspoken ideas about what guys did and thought.

“Whatever.” He was twenty-three and healthy, but horny didn’t go hand in hand with that like it used to. Most of the time he was tired—and stressed—plus jacking off left him feeling more alone than not lately.

Colby dried off. He hung the towel up, brushed his teeth then made sure he didn’t have toothpaste in the corners of his mouth. After putting on deodorant and lotion so his skin didn’t become dry and rough, he walked naked from the bathroom to the bedroom. It was beginning to cool off a little in there, not that it’d last. The hottest part of the day tended to be between four and five in the afternoon. The old, little AC couldn’t combat the heat effectively then.

A pair of worn denim cut-offs was all he bothered to put on. Despite being tired and lethargic, he wasn’t ready to sleep just yet. He wanted a few minutes to himself.

Colby left the bedroom, making sure to close the door to keep the cooler air in. He’d started sweating when he’d left the bathroom, and it was only a minute or so before he was soaked.

Colby stepped outside onto the warped wooden stairs. Looking out didn’t provide him with anything new to see. There were still two dilapidated sheds on the property, one a badly built two-car garage with shingles nailed on to the outside walls. Why that’d been done, he couldn’t fathom. Both sheds leaned heavily to the right. Every time it stormed and the winds howled, Colby expected the buildings to collapse but apparently they were stronger than they looked.

There were several rusted-out vehicles and pieces of farm equipment that needed to be hauled off. The mesquite and oaks were pretty, but the overgrown weeds were out of hand. Usually Mr. Carmichael, the landlord, cut them twice a year. Since had hadn’t done so yet, Colby had a constant battle with mice and rats on his hands.

He sat on the second one step and looked at the holes dotting the sandy ground around him. Despite being a native to the area, he’d never gotten used to having tarantulas around, and the suckers were everywhere. Colby still shrieked like a banshee when he found them in the trailer. Nothing he ever did kept them out.

“You fuckers stay in your homes, and I’ll stay in mine.” Colby amended that, “I mean, go eat bugs and stuff, just don’t think I’m one of them. The trailer is a bug and spider-free zone.”

And how pathetic was he to be sitting there in the heat, talking to nothing? The damned spiders weren’t listening, that was for sure.

Colby snorted at himself, bemused by his behavior. What was he doing, babbling at spiders? He watched a trail of leaf-cutter ants scrambling around and wished he’d see a horned toad. They’d been plentiful when he’d been little, but now they seemed to be all but gone from the area. He used to pick them up and hold them facing away from him since he’d been told they could spit poisonous blood in his eyes and blind him. Now he knew that wasn’t true, and regretted not taking more time to study the critters back then. It just wasn’t the same looking them up online.

A pang of loneliness hit him. He shoved it down as deep as he could. Melancholy clung to him like the sweat on his skin. Colby went back inside and tried to sleep, but his mind was racing. He couldn’t focus on any one thing—he was simply too wound up and finally, hoping it’d bring him peace, he shoved his shorts down his thighs.

While he hadn’t been in the mood earlier, Colby was going to jack off, not so much because it was a pressing need, but because a good, hard orgasm would wring him out. Sleep was something he never got enough of, and he desperately needed some now.

He took the lube out from under pillowcase where he kept it stashed since he didn’t have a nightstand. He opened the tube and poured a dab of liquid in his hand before spreading it on his soft dick. Colby laid the lube and cap on the bed as he worked his erection.

Colby didn’t miss the irony in him masturbating so he could sleep rather than because he was horny, but a few strokes of his dick quickly changed that. He let his eyes close and he pictured a big, muscular body, tanned skin, strong hands. It wasn’t until he spread his legs, his hole clenching as he wished for something to fill him, that he put a face to his fantasy lover.

He shivered as he let an image form of a man with a handsome face and stocky build. Not anyone specific—Colby wasn’t interested in anyone he knew. This man was just what Colby wanted in a guy physically, at least—or what he always thought his lover would look like. Just concentrate on that, on how he looks. That’s all that matters for this. Ohhh, imagine him in cowboy boots and a tan Stetson. Oh yeah. It was surprisingly easy to envision an imaginary lover in tight jeans, boots, a thick leather belt with a silver buckle, and a pearl-snapped shirt. Colby only gave into the impulse on rare occasion, but when he did, the Western wear brought his lust up to another level of horny.

He had a thing for men in cowboy boots and belts.

Even so, after a few good strokes, it was easier still to have imaginary that lover wearing nothing but the boots and hat.

“Fuck. Uhn.” Colby would never really pursue anyone, but in his fantasy, he could pretend it was another man’s hand working his dick, teasing that sensitive bundle of nerves under the crown.

“Oh yes,” Colby hissed, bucking his hips. He raised one leg and used his other hand to rub his fingers over his asshole. It felt good, really good, though he didn’t linger long there. Just a little sensation was all he’d needed to ramp up the need coiling in his balls.

Colby pressed his thumb over his pucker then repositioned himself so he could massage his balls. He added just a hint of pressure there as he jacked himself faster.

His cock was harder than ever as he imagined a lover touching him with big, rough hands. Colby’s skin was smooth, pale, and his partner would have a darker complexion, which would be stunning in contrast.

Colby panted as he tightened his grip on his shaft. He might not beat off as much as he suspected he should, but when he did, he loved it. From the squelch of the lube as he stroked himself, to the way his body tingled and tightened, the clenching of muscles and flash of heat right before he came.

He only had to give his balls a tug and think of an open mouth, waiting eagerly for Colby to fuck it. The tan Stetson would fall off Colby’s fantasy man as he eagerly bobbed his head.

That was all it took and Colby jolted like he’d been tapped with a livewire. Cum splattered on his jaw and chest, then on his belly.

He shivered and loosened his hold on his cock as he slowed his stokes. Lethargy rolled over him and Colby let it. He had cum on him, and he might regret falling asleep like that, but he was too tired to get up and wash off.

That’d been the best climax he’d had in a long, long time. Colby put that down to him not having gotten off in a while. As he prepared to let sleep take him, he hoped that if he dreamed, he’d have someone with him in that fantasy world, too.

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