Showstring is available for early download from Pride Publishing.
A little preview.
Ben had told me to be there around seven-thirty in the morning and I wasn’t going to be late. I’d left a little after six to cover the distance from my apartment. My watch said seven-fifteen, but I could already see Ben with the cows. No. Cattle. I grinned. I am trainable.
As I got close, I could tell something was wrong. “What’s up?” I asked.
Ben’s face was laced with concern. As I stepped beside him, I could see why. Norman didn’t look right. Even I knew he shouldn’t be lying on his side with his legs sticking out. “What’s wrong with him?”
as he stroked the bull’s neck. “I’m not sure. I put a call in to the vet right after giving him some antibiotics, just in case.”
I knelt beside Ben and cringed at the massive bull’s labored breathing. “Is there something I can do?”
He looked at me for a minute before reaching a decision. “Yeah, I’d appreciate some help this morning. If you’d feed and water the heifers, then I can stay with Norman.”
I recoiled at the responsibility but pushed myself to do whatever Ben needed. “Okay, but I’ve never…”
After a moment, Ben turned and his eyebrows shot up. “Oh, sorry. Feed ’em first. Then bring ’em each a bucket of water. Then if you’d walk ’em? They haven’t been off the tie rack since yesterday. Most people don’t bother, but I don’t like to leave ’em tied up all the time.”
I nodded, numb with worry. I wasn’t sure I could handle even such a simple thing. I followed Ben’s instructions and soon had one of the tubs loaded with grain and stuff that looked like the pellets I’d fed the guinea pig I had as a kid. I topped it with a piece of hay before maneuvering the tub to the first animal. When I bent to give it to her, she rammed her head in and knocked the pan out of my hands.
“Hey! I was trying to give that to you!”
The deep chuckle from Ben rolled over me and my stomach tightened again. I knew with all my being that no number of times through conversion therapy would ever change my true feelings. I refused to believe straight guys would get a knot in their stomach from Ben’s sexy laugh.
“Sorry, I should have warned you. They all think they’re about to starve, even though you’d be hard pressed to find a rib on any of ’em through the extra padding they have,” Ben said.
“Okay…” I lifted another tub, prepared the same mix then moved to give it to the next animal. This time, when I worked my way between two of the heifers, they pinned me between them. I grunted as they squeezed tightly, but I managed to shove my way through and get the food in front of one of them before she knocked it out of my hands.
I repeated the same process for the next two heifers then watched until their long thick tongues polished the bottom of their tubs. I brought the first animal a bucket of water. She put her nose to it, snorted a couple of times then slurped like a kid with a vanilla shake. A minute or so later, she lifted her head and water ran from her muzzle. I refilled the bucket for each heifer until they’d all drunk their fill. I glanced over to check, and Ben still sat stroking the bull’s shoulder. He glanced up at me and smiled faintly. “His breathing doesn’t seem as labored. I hope the vet gets here soon.”
“Me, too. I’d hate for anything to happen to him.” I watched them for a second, but the moment felt too personal. “What should I do now?”
One of the heifers flipped over her feed tub to scrounge for more grain. “I’d like to get ’em out and walk ’em.” He studied me for a moment. “You think you’d be okay leading ’em?”
I let out the breath I’d been holding. “Okay, I’m sure I can do that.”
“Just hold the lead close to the halter. Otherwise, they’ll play crack the whip with you.”