Small time town with big time drama.
After a few seconds hesitation, Alec headed toward the door, digging in his pocket for the keys. He unlocked the diner and held the entrance open for the pair. They had been working since predawn to keep the animals from suffering in the heat of later in the day.
Judging from the animated conversation the two were having as they came through, he’d been right.
“That new ram should do fine,” Eli said.
Cullen shook his head in disagreement. “I don’t think some of those big east coast bred rams can tolerate the conditions out here. It takes all their effort to walk from the feed trough to the water bucket, much less cover a group of white-faced ewes.” Their conversation ground to a halt when Eli acknowledged Alec and Miss Dorthy with a nod.
“Morning, everyone. The college boy was just trying to educate the middle-aged farmer. But right now, I can’t think of nothing besides a big plate of what Miss Dorthy is taking out of the oven,” Eli said.
Cullen turned red and gave Alec and Miss Dorthy a shy smile. “Sorry about that. I get wrapped up in our discussions sometimes. Breakfast sounds great. I’m starving after being up at four to saddle the horses and move the sheep to new pastures.”
Eli chuckled and gave Cullen a friendly push toward the corner table they sat at each morning. By the time they settled into their seats, Alec had dished up their usual meals and delivered the steaming platters to the table. Eli gave Alec a wink before gathering up a fork full of flaky biscuits smothered with cream gravy with liberal helpings of spicy pork sausage. Before he’d finished the first bite, Alec had returned with a fresh pot of steaming coffee strong enough to keep them going for the rest of the morning.
Alec filled their cups and Eli washed down his food with a gulp of the steaming liquid. He turned and tipped his cap toward the cook. “Oh, lordy. Miss Dorthy, you make the best food in the entire panhandle. I bet it’s known up into Kansas and down to Texas too.”
“Oh, don’t be silly. They’re just the ones my momma taught all us girls how to make.” She gave them a bashful wave before ducking back into the little kitchen to start the next batch. The sight of her piling flour onto the counter, making a well in the center, and adding the rest of the ingredients by feel—well Alec found the process mystifying. In a few quick minutes, the dough covered the floured table, and she was cutting palm-sized discs that were spiked with bits of butter. The pan filled in no time and disappeared into the hot oven with a soft rattle.
The bell over the door announced the arrival of more of his early morning crowd. One of the new arrivals consisted of Ben Kovac, who was the local master of fixing all things mechanical. Stocky and masculine, he was amazing eye candy. Ben’s arms were knotted and coiled from physical work. Alec liked the dark hair that coated Ben’s forearms. His sleeves were rolled back today and had his fur and extensive tats on display. Alec motioned toward the almost empty diner. “Pick a seat and I’ll get you coffee.”
Ben settled into a table close to the kitchen and had barely seated himself before Alec was filling his cup with the steaming dark drink.
He’d taken a sip before his husband came through the door. Gage Reid was twenty-seven and served as the deputy sheriff for beaver county and was also hot as hell in Alec’s book. He fit the role of peace keeper and was a lighter skinned version of Ben. Gage had his sandy blond hair clipped tight against his skull. His groomed beard fit him perfectly. As he made his way to the table where Ben sat, Alec stole a glimpse of Gage’s round ass packed into his uniform.
Gage settled in beside Ben and smiled when Alec filled his cup. “Good and strong. Just what I needed this morning.”
Alex grinned in return as he sat the pot of coffee on the table. With order pad in hand, Alec held the pen over his notebook. “The usual platters, guys?”
Gage seemed a little embarrassed, but it was Ben who answered. “We’re trying to cut back on the carbs and drop a few pounds. So, we’re passing on the biscuits and gravy this morning. No pancakes either. We’re going for two Denver omelets.”
Gage shook his head and looked dejected. Ben reached over and squeezed Gage’s thigh. “You’ll live, and it’s not like we’ll be suffering to have two of Miss Dorthy’s specials. We both had too many handcrafted beers on our last vacation. You’ll be looking for a skinny little dude to replace your fat husband.”
Gage snorted, “Fat husband, right.” He turned to Alec. “Tell him Alec how dumb he’s being.”
Alec caught himself tongue tied and stammered out a reply. “You’re both hot.”
A second later, when a soft twitter filled the diner, Alec turned red as a beet and fled to the back of the kitchen.
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