Coke’s Clown by B.A. Tortuga
How does Dillon take care of Coke when Coke’s destroying himself?
Bullfighter Coke is having a rough time in the Roughstock universe. When his dear friend Sam Bell is injured at the finals of the bull riding season, he takes that and his injuries pretty hard. His very own clown, Dillon, is determined to take care of Coke, which is tough when Coke is usually the one to care for everyone. Coke has a huge secret from his past, though, and, when Dillon digs to discover what it is, the skeletons in Coke’s closet threaten to destroy both men.
Publisher’s Note: This book has been previously released elsewhere. It have been revised, re-edited ansd significantly expanded for re-release with Pride Publishing.
Dillon cranked up the speed on the treadmill, the sweat dripping in his eyes burning and stinging.
He didn’t think he could do it. Maybe the whole idea made him a terrible man. Maybe it made him a selfish bastard. Whatever it made him, he couldn’t go back to that hospital too many more times, what with Sammy lying there in that bed with all those bandages and machines, not making a lick of sense.
Sammy was awake now, right? It didn’t make Dillon a bad friend to want to go home. He couldn’t take seeing Coke go in there anymore, either. Every time Coke saw Sammy, his bullfighter aged another year.
Dillon ran faster, harder, thinking about how tired and small Coke had looked in that big king-sized bed, surrounded by bassets who were not allowed up there in this hotel.
It was time to go home. Now. To his place in Idaho, not to Texas, so he could control who called Coke. Coke was off work, damn it. Off work and a man, not an angel, not a fucking hero. Just a hurt, tired man who was aging faster than was right.
His legs were burning, his lungs heaving, but Dillon kept at it, needing to work off the hurt and fear and rage. Damn it all, this wasn’t right. Not for Sammy or Beau or Coop or Nate. And not for his Coke.
He barely heard the door open and close, then there was Coke at the weight machine, testing out that shoulder. Dillon almost slipped off the treadmill. Distraction was bad at six miles an hour. Coke started slow, arms working carefully, up and down.
Dillon eased the speed down, going for a trot now, wanting to keep an eye on Coke.
“You have a good run?” Coke did a set of fifteen, then stopped. Panted.
“Yeah.” He stopped the machine and headed over. “Think your shoulder might still be a little sore, huh?”
“A little? Nope.” He got a crooked grin. “I think that a little is just not near close.”
“Well, dumbass, then stop with the pushing.” He wiped sweat off his forehead.
“Trying to test it out, dickwad.” There was no heat behind the words, just a tired fondness.
“Hey, at least you didn’t call me Dillweed.” He winked. “Maybe we ought to hit the hot tub.”
“Oh, I do like those. It snowed. Did you see?”
“Nope.” Snow. He’d promised Coke snow over the break.
“It didn’t last long, but I got to see it.”
That made him smile. Coke was a Texan, through and through, with that mixture of horror and fascination when it came to the white stuff.
“Well, it will last up at my place.” Lord. And then some.
“Yeah?” Coke sighed. “You think Sammy’ll be better today? The pups… They’re real tired.”
“I think so, babe.” He didn’t care if Sam was or wasn’t. They’d done what they could. It was time to rest and heal. “I say we go by and see them, then head out.”
“Yeah? You think it’d be okay?”
Dillon took it as a huge step forward that Coke was almost agreeing.
“I think so, yeah. I mean, Sammy’s on the road to recovery, right? The sooner we all skedaddle, the sooner Beau will be able to get him home.”
“If the Cajun thinks it’s good, I could be ready to go. Today.”
“Yeah? The babies sure would love to run.”
“They would. If Beau says it’s good, then… Yeah. Yeah, it might be time.”
“Well, we’ll ask Beau, then.” Oh, thank God.