The Gift of the Maggie
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by Belinda McBride
Category: Gay Fiction/Erotica
Description: How does a respectable, middle-aged rancher tell his kids that he's gay? Gil Strickland is not only telling his teenagers that they'll be moving in with him full-time, but also that his best friend Morgan is also his lover. Too frightened to get right to the point, Gil and Morgan agree to sleep in separate rooms till the deed is done. On the night of Gil's official coming out, Morgan vanishes into the darkness of a snowy night, looking for a mare that's about to foal. When things go terribly wrong, it's up to Gil and his children to rescue an injured man, a laboring mare and to discover the true meaning of love, family and Christmas.
eBook Publisher: MLR Press, LLC,
eBookwise Release Date: January 2012
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [66 KB]
Reading time: 37-52 min.
Gil Stricklin stifled a chuckle. No...a giggle. Odd as it might seem that a burly middle-aged man would let out a slightly hysterical giggle, that's undoubtedly what it was. After all, who'd look at him and imagine that on a winter night he'd be outside behind a barn, getting up to some serious mischief while the family was inside cleaning up the supper dishes? His zipper dropped and damn! Frigid cold air shocked away the heat of his erection. He gasped, and then groaned as a wet mouth warmed him up again. Strong hands burrowed into his pants, cupping his ass and holding him in place.
Looking down, it was all he could do not to bust out laughing again...Morgan hadn't even bothered to take off his hat. All he could see of the man was his big Stetson bobbing up and down. Gil reached back, gloved hands flat on the rough wood of the barn wall. He felt the head of his cock hit the back of the other man's throat, and suddenly he wasn't laughing anymore. The only sound he stifled now was a groan.
It was fast out of necessity, any second someone might catch them. It was dirty out of choice; a big rough finger circled his hole, threatening him with an abrasive dry fuck. Gil's legs wobbled a bit; the metal buckle of his belt slapped against his thigh with a jingle. In frustration, he knocked Morgan's hat to the ground, not caring that it was his second-best...the one his partner wore for family dinners and evenings on the town. He needed to see that chiseled, shamelessly handsome face. He dug his fingers into thick blond waves and guided the other man just enough to hit the good spots. Never losing pace, Morgan looked up at him and winked. At the same time, his finger pressed into Gil's ass. It hurt, causing every nerve in his body to sing.
It was bliss.
"Daaammmnnnn...." His hips bucked and his orgasm welled up. Gil's back arched as he leaned heavily against the wall, letting it take his weight as every last muscle gripped and released, throwing him into an erotic climb that seemed never to end. He panted, his seed leaving his body in an explosion of heat, and damn if Morgan didn't catch every drop!
"Unh..." He shuddered and looked down, seeing the rapid movement of Morgan's arm as he jerked his own shaft. The cowboy pumped himself, still staring up into Gil's face. With a gasp and a muffled grunt he came, spilling onto the icy ground. A wisp of steam rose and the viscous fluid caused the ice to melt, just a tiny bit.
Once again, Gil succumbed to hilarity. It didn't take long before Morgan staggered to his feet and joined him in laughter. They fumbled at shirttails and zippers, their breath white in the frigid December air. Finally, both men collapsed against the rough wood, breathless and unbearably happy. But lately, happiness seemed to be a normal state for Gil. Finding love at his age had seemed out of the question. Finding love with another man was a question answered...most definitively.
He leaned over, planting a hard, deep kiss on Morgan's lips. "I owe you one, bud."
Morgan leaned down and caught the brim of his fallen hat, brushing it off before settling it on his head. He sent a mock-angry glare at Gil, who just grinned. The tall blond man shook his head and once again settled back against the barn, the heel of his boot propped against the wall. He draped an arm over Gil's shoulders in quiet affection.
For a minute, or maybe five, they were quiet, staring up at the crystalline sky. It never failed to amaze Gil how cold it became up here in the mountains of Northern California. A short drive to the west took a man right into the Central Valley with its heat and smog. To the east was Nevada and high desert. Here though, the air was pure and cold, stands of fir grew in the rich volcanic soil. It was an unpredictable land, at one moment gentle, then suddenly turning harsh and dangerous.
"You ready for tonight?" Morgan asked.
Gil sighed and shook his head. He was beginning to wish he'd worn his hat. He shoved gloved hands down into the pockets of his heavy shearling coat.
"Don't think nothing can make me ready for this. I just figured things could just go on like normal."
"They'd figure it out eventually, Gil. Not many ranchers have their employees living in the main house." Morgan leaned in a bit closer. "And they'd eventually notice my bedroom ain't gettin' much use."
"Yeah, well I was hoping we could hold off that discussion...maybe till they were in their forties or so."
Morgan chuckled again. His laugh was low and husky and never sounded like it could drift off into a tight giggle. He looked like the dang Marlboro Man with his rugged face and lean body. Only Morgan didn't smoke and he was real and here and most nights, in Gil's bed in the old ranch house. Now he was bunking in the guestroom while Gil's son and daughter were visiting, and Gil was faced with a decision he'd never expected to make. If he didn't come out to his kids, stolen moments like these were all they'd have together.
Gil sighed heavily, watching the plume of vapor leave his lips. As a little boy, he'd hung out right in this spot, a piece of straw between his lips as he pretended to smoke like his daddy did. By the time he was sixteen, the habit was real. Thankfully, he'd managed to kick the cigs when he was in his twenties. Shawna had been pregnant with Erica and he'd gone into full-out protective mode. Addiction never sunk its deadly claws into him like it had his daddy.
"You did good at lunch with my ex the other day. " He glanced over at Morgan, studying his profile. Morgan's cheek creased with a smile.
"She took it pretty well, don't you think?" Morgan's blue eyes were unusually serious. "It can't be easy meeting your ex-husband's boyfriend. I mean, I expected her to go all dragon-lady on us. I figured she wouldn't want her kids under our roof once she knew."
"Oh hell, she probably already knew. I'm pretty sure she's suspected for a while. You were hanging around every time she brought the kids out to visit this past couple years." Most likely Shawna had guessed long ago. He'd never exactly brimmed with passion for his wife, even though he'd loved her well and truly. His body, mind and heart had been at war during their decade together. When she'd moved out, his only real regret was that the children had gone with her. And in truth, he'd missed her badly after she left him. Shawna had been his best friend since high school. In the end, she just wasn't getting enough out of the marriage. She was growing and Gil wasn't. That had been a bitter pill.
As one, they pushed off the wall and began sauntering through the darkness, heading up the road toward the house. It glowed up there on the hill, Christmas lights shone in red and green and blue. Morgan had done that. He'd also brought in the massive fir tree they'd decorated earlier in the day. He'd grown up in a big rowdy family and reveled in every celebration and birthday through the year. Last Christmas he'd gone to stay with his sister in Napa for a few days, playing the loving uncle for her kids. The man ached to be a father, and even without kids of his own, did his best to fill that need.
"Look Gil, I think I'm gonna head out to the horse barn and stay there tonight."
Gil looked over at him. "Chicken?" He grinned, but still felt a bit put out by Morgan's defection. "Gonna leave me alone to face the firing squad?"
"You're the one who moved me out of the bedroom." The smile was gone.
He was upset about that? Gil frowned as they walked. He knew he should say something to soothe Morgan's hurt feelings, but wasn't quite sure what words would work. It was true, he'd suggested that Morgan take the spare room for the duration, but that was more to buy him some time before telling the kids. But on the other hand, the plan was to tell them tonight. And he had a point; if Morgan stayed in the guest room over the holiday, they'd be setting a precedent. He'd be too self-conscious to move him back into their bed.
The kids knew Morgan well enough by now...they liked him a lot. Jared had taken a particular shine to the cowboy, since Morgan was the primary caretaker of the horses. And Jared did love the horses. Maggie in particular.
He'd originally contracted Morgan Lewis to come in and train a bunch of yearlings he wanted to sell. Gil wasn't a horse breeder, but had damn good stock. Aside from their workability, his horses threw brilliantly marked pintos. Gil just looked for good stock horses, but Morgan saw the potential in producing a line that threw color.
Back when Morgan had first returned to town, the tall, slender man had immediately caught Gil's eye and it hadn't taken long before Morgan had caught his heart as well. He'd ruthlessly suppressed his attraction until Morgan had finally outed himself to Gil. And hadn't that been a nice surprise? Things had moved like a whirlwind between them, and the passion Gil had never before known still burned between them like a fire. He suspected it always would.
In time, Morgan had moved his stock from leased pasturage at a nearby ranch to Gil's spread. They'd merged their professions as well as their lives. To Gil, their business partnership felt as real and as binding at his marriage had. Now knowing that his partner felt rejected...well, that just set wrong.
He did his best to mend fences with Morgan. "I just...you know...even if you were a girlfriend..." he stammered. "...it's just...they're my kids!"
Morgan swayed in his direction till their shoulders bumped. "I know. I told my family years ago. It's new to your family and friends. Can't be easy, especially since they're so young. I'll bet Erica will stick her fingers in her ears when you try to explain that you and me are gettin' busy in bed together."
"Dang it all, Morgan!" He couldn't help but laugh, because his partner was spot on. "That's why..." he stammered. "Erica's sixteen. Jared's thirteen." He swallowed down the flutter of fear in his gut. "I'm sure they'll deal with it if we give them some time to adjust."
Morgan paused, pulling Gil to a halt. "If they're gonna be moving in full time, you've got to make a decision fast. Either I'm back in with you or I'm gonna have to stay out in the barn." His voice wasn't angry, but it held a note of wariness. It was true. They had to start out on the path they meant to take. But if he just had time to make it easier... "I'm not gonna live in the guest room and grab whatever time we can steal. If you're embarrassed about sleeping with me, maybe we're not ready to be this serious."
"Shit." Gil scrubbed at his face. He looked over at Morgan. He still wasn't angry, and in the moonlight, he seemed sad. Resigned to a decision Gil hadn't yet made. It hurt that Morgan expected the worst. He suspected that over the years, his cowboy had taken some tough blows in the name of love.
"Come in with me, Morgan. It'll be easier if we do it together."
Morgan shook his head. "You get to handle this one, Gil. Those kids need the chance to say whatever's on their mind. They don't need me there tonight. Besides, I gotta keep an eye on Maggie. Got a bad feeling about her."
"She's not due to foal for at least a month." They started walking again, but slower. Just a few more steps and they'd be heading off in different directions. Tonight would be the first time in months that he slept without Morgan beside him in the big squeaky sleigh bed. He thought about sex with his partner, and briefly, his arousal warmed him up.
And then he thought about the racket his grandma's old bed frame made. Lordie, there'd be no privacy at all.
"Maggie's looking like she's coming along pretty fast. Don't like the way she's acting. And horses can go into labor way before you expect."
"Well, I'm sure she's gonna be fine, Morgan. It's awful cold out there. Don't like the idea of you freezing your ass off."
"Gilbert Stricklin, you tell me why you hired me on in the first place." Morgan pulled him to a stop again, one strong hand on Gil's shoulder.
"Uh...I hired you to train my horses."
Gil rolled his eyes. "You're a horseman. I'm a cattleman. I get your point, bud, but I still don't like the idea of you sleeping outside."
"I'm not outside, I'm in the barn. This is exactly why there's an apartment out there. Besides, Jared's awful fond of his mare. If something goes wrong, we'll have a hell of a time getting a vet out here on Christmas Eve. I just want to be extra careful."
Gil nodded. "Okay. I get your point."
"Besides..." Morgan stepped closer, pulling Gil into his arms. They were of a height, but Gil let his head drop to the other man's shoulder. "...the apartment is private enough that I can jack off while I'm thinking about you. Don't have to worry about the kids overhearing." His smile was white in the darkness. Morgan reached around and kneaded Gil's ass. He nuzzled Gil's ear. "You think about it darlin'. You tell them upfront and I move back into your bed. We all get over it fast. Or I save you some embarrassment by staying in the barn. We sneak around like we did tonight and one of these times they'll catch us. My guess is that'll do some real damage."
He was right. Of course, Morgan usually was right about these things.