Join us for the Midsummer Madness Flash Fiction Blog Hop! July 4th, 2015. M/M romance authors will be sharing exclusive, never before published, flash fiction stories full of two men kissing and equal love. Be sure to check out the other blogs at the end of this post, and grab your copy of TRUE NORTH for free!
Clowns & Cowboys
by C.E. Kilgore
“You girls just about done putting on your faces?”
Clint glanced up from his small magnified mirror to the larger one backing the wall of the prep-trailer. In the reflection, Colby Jackson was having his usual laugh at watching the rodeo clowns putting on their makeup. The guy was a damn good bronco rider; a crowd favorite. He was also a colossal douche.
Colby flashed his smile, a dimple on his left cheek winking and his cow-brown eyes meeting Clint’s muddy hazel in the mirror. Clint’s cheeks heated, but luckily he’d already put on his white base. Though, it did nothing to hide the blush creeping up the back of his neck.
“You sure are lookin’ purdy, Clint,” Colby snickered. “I do believe yellow is your color.”
“The kids like it,” Clint muttered, pulling his yellow, Sponge Bob bandanna further up his neck.
“Get on out ‘a here,” old Branson shooed the cowboy out of the trailer, following down the steps with an elderly earful. “Didn’t your daddy teach you any manners ’bout respecting the clowns who’re ’bout to safeguard your skinny arse in the arena?”
“Aw, c’mon ya old goat!” Colby protested, his hand holding onto the metal doorframe as Branson hit him with his cowboy hat. “I was just pokin’ fun! What kinda clowns are ya? Y’all should appreciate a good joke!”
“I’ll give you a good joke,” Branson grumbled with another shove out the door. “About how my boot got stuck up your ass.”
The rest of the clowns in the trailer had themselves a good chuckle, but Clint scowled at his mirror instead. It pissed him off something fierce how attracted he was to that douche Colby. It’d been that way since Clint had first laid eyes on the man and noticed Colby didn’t get pissed off at being stared at by another dude. Not that them both being gay upped Clint’s chances of hooking up with the cowboy.
Not that he wanted to. Okay, maybe he did. A little.
The red oil crayon in his hand drew an unsteady line below his bottom lip. Dangit. Now he was all shook up over Colby’s stupid smile.
“Don’t let that mule shake you, son,” Jeb said, his hand clasping Clint’s shoulder with a firm, callused grip. “You being new to the circuit just makes you the default target.”
The other clowns in the trailer all gave similar words and grunts of agreement as they finished getting ready. As they filed out, Hank stopped to point at the yellow bandanna. “My niece loves Sponge Bob. Jackasses like Colby forget the rodeo ain’t just about them and their belt buckles. A clown’s job-”
“-is to safegaurd the cowboys and entertain the crowd,” Clint finished. He may’ve been new to the PRCA National circuit, but it wasn’t his first season working a rodeo. He’d been a clown since his dad first put him in the ring at thirteen, realizing he had more skill for managing the bulls than riding them. After graduating, he’d jumped fence, with his dad’s blessing, and joined the weekend warrior Prairie circuit.
College wasn’t for him, but facing down bulls and broncos while putting on a show for the crowd? Well, that just seemed to be in his blood. Still, he was young compared the other scarred veterans in the trailer, and he knew he had a long way to go to earn the marks and respect he wanted and the chance at clowning the PBR Nationals.
“Yes, sir,” Clint finished respectfully. “Thanks, Hank.”
Hank smiled the easy grin he always wore then left the trailer, leaving Clint alone and lagging behind. He adjusted his Sponge Bob bandanna again, taking more pride in it. On the bandanna, Sponge Bob had a cowboy hat and boots while twirling a lasso. He’d never actually seen the show, but it always got even the most skittish kid to smile.
He’d been a skittish kid once. Losing your momma early can do that. The rodeo had pried his shell back open. If he could do that for a kid or two, then heck, he’d wear a Sponge Bob costume and ride around on a stick-horse while trying to lasso a piglet. The visual made him chuckle.
“What’s got you giggling like a schoolgirl?”
Clint flinched at the sound of Colby’s mocking voice. The cocky cowboy was back in the trailer’s doorway, leaning back on the frame with his arms crossed and his hat tilted downward. Damn. The man looked like a Stetson ad.
Clint darted his eyes away before they lingered way too long on Colby’s tight bluejeans and red western wear button-up with its sleeves rolled to the elbow. “Thought Branson made it clear, cowboys ain’t welcome in this trailer.”
“Aw, shoot,” Colby pouted with a hand slapping his chest. “You done wounded my heart.”
“Oh? And here I’d reckoned you didn’t have one of those.”
“Ouch.” Colby went quiet for a moment then stepped further into the trailer, the spring-hinged door snapping shut.
Against his better judgement, Clint let his gaze lift back up to the mirror, only to be caught up in a pair of sad-looking puppy dog eyes staring straight back at the reflection. Feeling like crap, Clint muttered an apology. “Sorry. Just pre-arena jitters, you know?”
“Nah,” Colby sighed, taking off his hat and raking a hand through dirty blond hair. “Guess I rightly deserved that.”
Clint tried not to stare at the man’s hair. “Well… You can be kind of a dick sometimes.”
“I know,” he huffed, flopping down into the chair next to Clint, straddling the seat backwards and leaning forward against the backrest. “My ma used to clock me good for it. Nervous habit. I turn into a real smart ass when I don’t know what else to say, or the words I want to say won’t come out.”
“Oh.” Clint glanced over, surprised by the fact that they were having their first real conversation and that Colby had been so forthright. “Wait, what’re nervous about? You’re the top seat for this year’s nationals in bareback and saddle bronc. Shoot, you’d have to fall off every dang horse from now till November to lose your spots.”
Colby’s gaze dropped, bottom lip disappearing between his teeth for a moment. “Yeah, if I can keep the sponsors on my vest.”
Clint’s eyebrow raised. Was Colby in some kinda trouble? “Why would any of them sponsors drop you? That’d be stu-”
Clint didn’t get another word out as Colby sprung forward, fisting Clint’s Sponge Bob bandanna and tugging him hard into a kiss. Sweet mercy. Clint’s brain short-wired as Colby tongue slipped in and rode his mouth like a buckin’ bronc. When they came up for heavily panted breaths, Colby’s lips were smeared with red and white oil pencil. Clint couldn’t help but snort.
“You look good in red,” Clint chuckled while wiping the man’s face clean with a wetnap.
“And you’re gonna have to fix your face.” Colby blushed, his head ducking down a bit. “Sorry.”
“Somehow, I doubt that.” Clint reached out and brushed his fingers along Colby’s chin. “So, is that why you’re worried about your sponsors? Because you like kissin’ men?”
“Because I wanna take you out on a date, proper like,” Colby argued. “Been wanting to. Couldn’t hold back on wanting to kiss you no more, but going out…in public…”
“It could be trouble.”
“Could be,” Colby smirked. “Then again, I’ve kinda always had a love affair with trouble.”
Clint put on a serious expression. “And what makes you think I wanna go out on a date with a cowboy?”
“Oh. Uh…” Colby’s confidence deflated right before Clint’s eyes. It was kinda adorable. “Well, I thought you’ve been looking at me, and I’ve been looking at you, and… What? Stop laughing at me ya dang clown!”
“Not until you kiss me again, cowboy.”
“Damn.” Colby grinned wide, taking hold of Clint’s bandanna again. “We’re gonna need a whole lot more of them wetnaps.”
If you liked Clowns & Cowboys, you might like more of my gay romance stories:
An apocalyptic M/M Romance series. Electricity is gone. Society is on its knees. The heart’s compass becomes the light in the darkness.
Joshua has had enough of people. Especially those desperate, starving bastards who he’s certain ate his dog. When people decide to leave the university town of Lincoln, Nebraska and head south before winter sets in, Joshua heads north instead. When he lands face-first in a snowbank, he welcomes death. What he finds instead is the handsome smile of Chris, a lone goat farmer who’s trying to make the best of life without power.
Be sure to visit all the blogs listed below:
Celestial Seasons #4 is now available!
A summertime romance with a sci-fi twist!
Once the captain, always the captain… Annadri’s spaceship may now be in pieces and her crew may now be a bunch of seasonal decorators, but when things get crazy, she’ll always be their captain. And things are about to get interesting.
A Vragan’s Oath is his bond… Mike made an Oath to Annadri’s husband six years ago, and it’s been a knife in his heart ever since. He loves Anna as sure as the stars shine above, but his promise and his honor stand in his way. That, and a few alien hunters.
An unexpected visitor… Kevran has traveled far across the galaxy to find his wife, Annadri, marooned on Earth. What he doesn’t expect to find is her refusal to leave. It seems their arranged marriage contract can’t stand up to the love her heart has for another. Kevran’s not sure what to make of Earth, or of this strange emotion called love.
Read an Excerpt:
Mike glared at the display panel on the communications array, wishing for the hundredth time that he had let his brother toss the damn thing into a lake at Christmas. Then, he would be out of options and could seriously consider Garrok’s suggestion that he stop being such a stubborn Vragan and break the damn Oath he’d made to Kevran. Why had he ever let himself make that Oath in the first place?
Because, he’d been a young fool, who’d been a coward when it came to Annadri. He’d never told her how he truly felt, using a lame excuse about a first officer’s duty to his captain. Then, he’d felt guilty for being in love with a married woman – a woman who should’ve been his if he hadn’t been so stupid!
A calibration wrench clanged against the far wall of the barn, hitting a post then falling into a box of Easter egg decorations. Looking at his empty hand, he sighed at his temper, then he got to his feet to retrieve the tool he’d tossed in his anger. He made it three steps before Anna appeared in the open barn door, bringing him to a halt mid-stride.
She’d stopped using the hair dye and wearing her contacts a month ago. They were back to their beautiful shades of lavender and lilac. Those purple eyes were glaring at him now, boring two holes right through his head.
Uh-oh. It seemed he was in for another argument about his Oath and that damned communicator, all while they both refused to simply come out and say what they were really fighting about.
She was in love with him. He knew that now without a doubt. Which made it all the harder to keep his Oath, and which made him all the more a fool.
“I know what you’re going to say.” He held up a hand as she opened her mouth. “And, we’ve been over this, Annadri. I have-”
He shut his yap and took a step back as she raised a gun at him. It wasn’t an Earther gun, either. It was one of the few remaining graviton pulse rifles. Without so much as a hello, she fired the gun at the communicator. A low-humming thrump followed by an EMP concussion wave slammed into the array. The heap of metal sparked, fizzled then died in a plume of smoke. The digital readout beeped an alarm before going dim, most likely forever.
Mike felt two conflicting sensations within the same second – relief and anxiety. His brain decided to focus on the anxiety, because, as already stated, he was stupid when it came to Anna. “What on Earth has gotten into you?! Not even Stevverax will be able to repair the damn thing now!”
“That’s the point. I want it fully dismantled and destroyed. The same for the rest of what we were able to salvage from the ship, except the medical equipment and our defense system.”
“Annadri, if this is about me calling home-”
“You can’t destroy all this stuff out of some emotional-”
Anna let out a silencing trill from her three vocal chords as her eyes narrowed. “You stubborn ji’tchna! You’ve put us all at risk, including your brother and his new family.”
Mike’s heart stopped. “What?”
“Rosa had two people in suits show up to her bakery, asking all kinds of weird questions about Garry.”
The barn spun around him. Had he really put his brother and Rosa in danger? And Mary? The twins? “How… How do we know they aren’t just Jehovah’s Witness or something?”
Just when he thought her glare couldn’t get any more dangerous, it did. “Do you think this is a joke?”
“No, ma’am.” Mike’s spine stiffened, his six-foot, bulky frame casting a shadow over Anna’s five-foot-three. “You think someone picked up my signal?”
“It’s crossed my mind, and I refuse to continue letting you take that chance with our lives. Garry thinks it might also be because of the incident with Rosa’s ex-husband, but I think it’s time we truly put our past behind us.” She tossed the rifle into the pile and wiped her hands of it. “Including our technology.”
“Anna,” she corrected. “My name is Anna, now. We live here, on Earth. We all had the chance to go home, and we all decided to stay. I’m happy here.”
He caught the twitch in her eye with her last statement. A lie. “You don’t seem happy.”
Her thin hands fisted at her sides. “I would be, if I didn’t have this damn migraine all the blasted time!”
Even a stupid, stubborn Vragan could understand what she meant by that. Mike’s feet shuffled against the dirt floor as the communicator’s burnt wiring continued to smoke. His big hands flexed in a want to end this – to forget his damned Oath and Vragan sensibilities, and simply be Mike; the Earth Mike who didn’t have Oaths and duty and regulations.
Looking at her, the only thing in the universe that he wanted to do in that moment was kiss her. “Anna, I’m sorry. It’s not like I want things to be this way. I want…” But his tongue tied itself into a knot, his hand twitching to touch her.
She being the braver of them, closed the distance and took his hand. “What, Mike? Tell me what you want, and we’ll find a way to make it happen.”
He tucked a strand of her beautiful lavender hair behind her ear, his fingers lingering against her cheek. “I think you know what I want, Anna; what I’ve always wanted.”
Her eyes filled with hope and she leaned into his touch. “Say it, Mike.”
“You can. Damn the Oath and damn my marriage contract. Damn us both for being a pair of fools.”
He inhaled deeply as a rare tear rolled down her cheek. Stars above, he was such a pitiful fool. Pulling her into his arms, he tried to go against the ways of his people and his very nature; he tried to forget his Oath to Kevran and let his heart finally have its say.
“Anna,” he whispered, kissing the top of her head as she nuzzled into his chest. “You know I love-”
A loud cracking boom split the afternoon sky – as if something was breaking the sound barrier. It was followed a few seconds later by a low rumbling hum growing closer to the barn. Mike and Anna met gazes, his racing heart matching the worry in her lavender eyes.
“That sounds like a ship,” Mike said what they were both thinking just as the ground beneath their feet shook in a small tremor.
“Stars above,” Anna’s face paled. “If the black suits didn’t know about us already, they do now.” She spun on her heel and ran from the barn towards the humming vibration.
“Wait!” Mike ran after her, shouting for her to be careful. Everyone else was gone, leaving him and his captain to deal with whatever this was. He just hoped his signal had brought a friendly visitor, and not a Targasian slave ship.
When your LGBTQ romances featuring struggles against marriage inequality become dated.. I’ve never been happier as a writer.
I can’t even right now. All I can do is smile.
And be blinded by all the beautiful rainbows and words of love being shared across social media today.
Love is love. Love wins. It may be a hard struggle that takes generations, but love will always win in the end.
This isn’t just a victory for gay rights; it’s a victory for human rights, and for our country as a whole. We are all created equal. Period.
So, get out there and spread the love! Next stop, polyamourous recognition.
Summer is sizzling with hot romance books! Every blog in this HOP is featuring a different summer read and hosting a separate giveaway – so you have tons of chances to win great prizes!
The HOT SUMMER NIGHTS 2 anthology features 8 hot romance stories for $1.00!
Weee! I’m in another anthology! This time, I was fortunate to be asked to join in on a great anthology, Hot Summer Nights 2. It includes contemporary romance of several varieties including mainstream, paranormal, sweet, sizzling, and my contribution: romantic comedy!
The really neat thing about this anthology is that it’s a shared universe! All the stories take place on the same tropical island.
About my story, The List
Samantha hasn’t had much luck when it comes to love. Of course, she’s never had much luck, period. Known as the Queen of Catastrophe, introverted Sam thinks her luck might be changing when she wins an all-expenses paid trip to Dasia Island. With a crazy to-do list written by her best friend Jack, Sam sets off on her first real adventure in years. After a stuttering start involving food-poisoning and a run-in with a very large spider, she meets Jason, the guy of her dreams made real. As the list gets checked off, item by item, Sam wonders if Jason can help her check off item twenty-two, which involves surf, sand and someplace secluded.
VISIT THE OTHER BLOGS!
Remember, each blog is having their own giveaway, so be sure to visit each one!
For an indie-author, producing a paperback (print) version of a book can be an arduous, expensive and time-consuming task. Currently, I’m an eBook only author. I’m also an eBook only reader, having not purchased a physical fiction book since 2010. I have this assumption that physical book demand is on the decline, and that I’m not losing a huge number of potential readers by only offering my books in digital format. Assumptions being what they are (a bad thing), I’ve decided to create this poll. It’s anonymous and only your answers are collected. Thanks in advance for your feedback!