Helloooo my readers! I’m pretty stoked to have one of my favorite authors on the blog today. I can’t say enough about his work, even prior to his leap into publishing, and I’m equally ecstatic to see his latest novella up on the Dreamspinner page as a published author. :D So let’s all give a warm welcome to Rob Colton, author of The Ranch Foreman.
Hey everybody! My name is Rob Colton and I’m here to preview my brand new novella, The Ranch Foreman, which was released on August 14th. This is my first professional publication and I am very excited.
Before I talk about me and the book, I wanted to thank Night Tempest for hosting me today. She’s been very supportive of me from the beginning and I very much appreciate it!
The Ranch Foreman is a contemporary western story, set on a cattle ranch in the Midwest. Young ranch hand Matty Ward finds himself attracted to his new boss, burly cowboy Baxter Hollingsworth. Usually the one being pursued, Matty finds the closeted cowboy a challenge he can’t refuse.
I got my start writing like many other authors, as a reader first. I have always enjoyed stories that feature big burly “bear” type men, especially when coupled with smaller guys. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a lot of romantic stories with this type of pairing, so I decided to try writing my own. After a couple of stops and starts, I had built up a small cache of stories. During the process, I found I enjoyed writing as much as reading. It was a perfect creative outlet for my “midlife crisis.”
Testing the waters, I posted my first story as “robcub32” to Literotica.com in January of 2010. And the rest is history.
I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for your time!
The Ranch Foreman Blurb:
When Madison “Matty” Ward finds himself out of work and without a place to live, his cousin comes through with a job on the Gates cattle ranch. Despite not knowing anything about herding cattle or taking care of horses, Matty does his best to impress the older hunky foreman, Baxter Hollingsworth. Baxter is drawn to the new young hand, but he’s deeply closeted, and after an openly gay veterinarian shows he’s interested in Matty, Baxter’s repressed feelings lead to an explosive encounter. Baxter then withdraws—leaving Matty feeling angry and used—until an accident forces him to confront his fears.
Cover Artist: Leah Kaye Suttle
Madison Ward stepped off the Greyhound bus and nearly dropped to his knees to kiss the ground.
That had been the longest bus ride in the history of bus rides. If he had to spend another single minute on that hot, humid, smelly bus, he likely would’ve withered up and died. Okay, so it hadn’t been that long, but between the frequent stops and the temperature, it had sure felt like it.
“Matty” cringed as he turned and located his cousin. He hadn’t gone by Matty since he was a kid. When he started high school, he began going by Matt. But he hadn’t been able to convince his Aunt Martha to start calling him Matt. And his cousin Brian was just as stubborn as his mother. He had a feeling he was going to be stuck with “Matty” for the rest of his life.
Brian Ward was every bit as handsome as Matty remembered. His work as a ranch hand obviously agreed with him, since he was in fantastic shape. His appearance had Matty doing a double take: Brian looked every bit a real-life cowboy in his Stetson, blue jeans, and boots.
They had both inherited the Ward signature dirty blond hair and blue eyes. Where Brian was more ruggedly handsome these days, Madison still had his boyish good looks. His smooth skin and naturally pink cheeks made him appear younger than his twenty-seven years.
Brian pulled Matty into a tight hug, slapping his back. “It’s so good to see you, cuz,” his older cousin told him while looking him over.
“You too, Bri.” Matty gave Brian a genuine smile. He was overjoyed to see his cousin, despite the reversion to his childhood nickname.
“You got a bag?”
Matty walked over to the side of the bus where the driver had opened the baggage compartments. He pulled the suitcase and big duffel bag that held the entirety of his worldly possessions from within.
Brian grabbed the suitcase from his cousin and pointed toward the parking lot where his pickup truck was parked. “I’m over there. So, how was the trip, Matty?”
“Good, but long. So long. I go by ‘Matt’ now, Brian.”
“You’ll always be Matty to me. Don’t see that changin’ anytime soon.”
Matty couldn’t help but smile at his cousin’s words. Brian had picked up a bit of a country accent. He probably didn’t even realize it.
They put Matty’s luggage in the back of Brian’s pickup truck and got on the road.
“You sure this is okay?” Matty asked, feeling nervous again. “I hate to be a burden.”
“I’m sure. It’s all settled. Everything is gonna be fine. Don’t get me wrong, the pay is going to be crap and you’re gonna be stuck doing the shittiest jobs no one wants, but you’ll get room and board. And the Gateses are good people.”
Brian gave Matty a reassuring smile. The smile slowly faded as his attention turned back to the road. “How’s my mom?” At Matty’s hesitation, Brian added, “Be honest.”
“I’m sorry, Brian,” Matty said quietly. His eyes filled with tears, and he blinked rapidly to clear them. “I tried to take care of her for as long as I could, but Aunt Martha… it just got to be too much. I’m so sorry.” Matty hung his head and closed his eyes. He inhaled a shuddered breath as he tried to not completely break down.
Brian reached over and squeezed Matty’s shoulder. “It’s okay, buddy. I know you did.”
Matty blamed himself. He felt like a complete failure. Brian’s mom, his aunt Martha, had taken him in when his own mom died of cancer. He was just a kid when it happened, and Matty’s dad had long disappeared before he was born. Both of their moms were single parents, and the two families relied heavily on each other. Brian was more than just his cousin. He was like a big brother to him, and Matty feared his disappointment more than anything.
With Aunt Martha getting sicker and sicker of the same disease that had taken his own mom, Matty just couldn’t handle caring for her anymore. He had already quit his job as a short-order cook to take care of her full-time, but it still wasn’t enough. After she’d broken her hip, Brian had agreed she should be moved into an assisted living facility. To pay for the twenty-four-hour care she needed, they’d had to sell her home. And that had left Matty homeless.
When Matty had nowhere to go, Brian hadn’t hesitated to line up a job for Matty at the cattle ranch he worked at. The ranch owners had hired him sight unseen, feeling sympathetic to his situation. At least that was what Matty imagined. He didn’t know anything about raising cattle or taking care of horses. Brian had assured him he would do fine, but that didn’t make him any less nervous.
Brian had gotten his job because he knew about horses. He had dated a girl all through high school whose parents raised them. She had taught him how to ride and how to take care of the animals.
Brian drove west out of town for about forty-five minutes before turning into the Gates Creek Ranch driveway. He pulled through the big gates and down the long drive that seemed to go on for miles.
Matty wished it had been daylight out so he could have seen the countryside. He imagined it to be beautiful.
As soon as Brian parked his truck, Matty got out and looked around at what would be his new home.
The air was crisp and clean, and the stars sparkled bright in the clear night sky. It was so quiet that it was a little disconcerting. But there was something about the peacefulness that appealed to Matty.
A pair of shepherd dogs ran through the yard, playfully chasing each other. Matty stopped and watched them for a moment until they ran far enough away that their bodies melded with the darkness.
Floodlights lit up the area where Brian had parked the truck, alongside several other vehicles to the side of a long two-story structure. A golden glow beckoned him toward the homey front porch where comfortable chairs and rockers sat. Matty could easily imagine himself sitting for a spell to enjoy the clean country air. In addition to the long house, there was a big two-story farmhouse with a big wraparound porch, where he assumed the owners lived. The horse stable was a large red barn, and past that was a big equipment shed. Farther back on the property, Matty could see the window lights of what looked like a small log cabin.
Matty smelled what he assumed was the cattle in the distance, though he couldn’t really see them in the dark.
“This is the bunkhouse,” Brian said, tipping his chin toward the long building. “That’s where I stay. You’ll get your own room there, too.”
Matty turned toward the sound of a woman’s voice. A man and a woman were standing on the big house’s porch, waiting for the two cousins. They looked to be in their sixties, and Matty assumed they were the ranch’s owners, the Gateses. The woman had friendly eyes and was all smiles as she waved. She wore very little makeup, but every strand of her graying hair was set perfectly in place. Mrs. Gates’s grandmotherly appearance immediately put Matty at ease, and he smiled and waved back.
Her husband stood at her side, his arm wrapped around her shoulders. His square jaw and dimpled chin were dusted with a salt-and-pepper five-o’clock shadow that gave him a rugged look. Despite the hard-looking face, the older cowboy wore a welcoming expression. As Matty and Brian approached, he pulled his hat off, exposing thinning hair that matched the coloring of his stubble.
“C’mon, cuz,” Brian said, slapping Matty on the back. “Let me introduce you.” He led Matty to the porch. “Fred and Ethel Gates, this is my cousin, Madison Ward. He goes by Matty.”
Matty smiled to himself. Fred and Ethel. How cute.
“I’m Matt,” Matty corrected. “It’s nice to meet you, sir, ma’am. Thank you so much for the opportunity.” Matty shook both of their hands.
“Aw, now don’t you worry about that, Matty,” Ethel said. “Why don’t you come on inside and I’ll fix you a snack? You must be famished after that bus ride.”
“I don’t want to put you to any trouble,” Matty said, glancing toward Brian.
Fred chuckled. “Matty, son, you don’t want to start your time here by turning down Miss Ethel.”
Matty widened his eyes. “I didn’t mean any disrespect, sir.”
Ethel shot her husband a look. “Hush, you.” She linked her arm around Matty’s and escorted him inside.
Matty cleared his throat and smiled at the woman. “I still want to thank you for giving me the opportunity. I promise I won’t let you down.”
She waved her free hand, dismissing Matty’s words. “You’re family. That’s what we do.”
Rob Colton is a software developer by day, and avid reader of romance novels at night. A romantic at heart, he loves stories that feature big, burly men who find true love and happy endings.
Rob grew up in northern Michigan and currently lives in the Atlanta area with his very supportive husband and their very spoiled miniature schnauzer.