Please welcome B.G. Thomas with
Do You Trust Me?
The path to happiness starts with acceptance, and sometimes the chance for a bright, loving future means letting go of the past.
All his life, Neil Baxter has buried a large part of himself—the part that’s attracted to other men. He married a woman and denied that side of him existed. And he plans to keep right on pretending to be straight after his beloved wife has passed away.
To help him deal with his grief, Neil’s sister-in-law convinces him to vacation at a dude ranch. There, Neil meets Cole Thompson, a young, gorgeous, unabashedly gay wrangler—who is unabashedly attracted to Neil. And try as he might, Neil cannot deny he feels the same way. But desire soon becomes something more profound as the two men get to know each other. Cole is much more than a sexy cowboy: he’s kind, spiritual, and intelligent. In fact, he’s perfect for Neil… except he’s a man, and Neil isn’t ready to let go of a lifetime of denial. If he cannot find the courage to be true to himself, he might let something wonderful slip through his fingers.
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A word from the author:
So there it was. And open call for submission looking for cowboy stories. Cowboys? Oh my! Who doesn’t love a cowboy? Especially a gay cowboy?
I decided to write a dude ranch story because, well, I’d never been to one and they always sounded fun. Especially the ranches where you could recreate what life would have been like back in the Old West. Herding cattle and eating around the campfire.
I did a lot of research on that story. I found out so much. I called a lot of real ranches and, wow, the people who owned them were so nice! They helped me so much. I wanted my story to be as believable as possible. And so did they.
But there was one thing I just didn’t want to fake. And that was horseback riding. But what to do? I didn’t have the time or money to go to a dude ranch.
Then it hit me. I knew people who owned horses! So I called my friends Julie and Mike and they were very excited about my book and my desire to lean to ride a horse. So, my daughter and I headed out and learned to ride a horse.
You know if you want to write a story about swimming you can read a book about it. But there is nothing in those books that are going to tell you what it is really like. The water, the buoyancy, the strokes, the feel of it all.
Same way with a real horse. Nothing had prepared me for what it would be like. The magnificence of that animal. The connection. The feel of the animal between my legs. His warmth. Feeling him breathe.
And as far as I am concerned, that is what made the story….
…an excerpt from “Do You Trust Me?”
Cole put the reins in my right hand and explained how they worked: pull back to slow or stop her, left and right to guide, a slight, easy kick with my heels against her sides to urge her on.
At first, the ride was a bit unsettling. It was like being in a rocking boat. I’ll be shaken apart in no time. How did people ride for hours?
“Scooch up a little bit,” Cole said. “Scoot your butt forward.”
I wasn’t sure if I was doing what he wanted, but I tried.
“Good. That’s it.”
And almost immediately, I felt more comfortable.
“Her bridle is bitless,” Cole said. “That means there’s no bit, the metal thing that goes in a horse’s mouth. I don’t like them and neither do the Clarks. The horse’s mouth gets tough, and they stop responding. Since we get a lot of novice riders, we want to make things as pleasant and painless for the horses as possible. Most people tend to haul on the reins in a pinch. So many people who come to dude ranches don’t have a clue what they’re doing—”
“Like me?” I interjected.
“You’re doing fine so far. You’re on a very good horse too… one of my favorites. Mystic is good. She is very responsive. Some of our older horses are pretty stubborn. Now I’m going to get my horse. I’ll take the reins and tie you to this rail here, and I’ll be right back, okay?”
I felt a flash of fear, but Cole was so confidant I pushed it down. Amy rode up. “I’ll watch him,” she said.
“All right,” Cole said. “You keep the reins, and I’ll be right back.”
Cole dashed off, and I watched him go. He was pure grace, like a horse himself. When he entered the stables, I turned and saw Amy watching me. “What?” I asked.
She shrugged, her red hair catching the sun. “Nothing,” she said. “Why don’t we walk them a bit?”
“What about Cole?” Do this without Cole?
“He’ll catch up,” she assured me. “Come on. Just tap Mystic’s sides slightly with your heels and she’ll go.”
I did and was surprised at how fast Mystic started moving.
“Pull back a bit and she’ll slow down,” Amy said. “‘Whoa’ works too.”
“You really do say whoa?” I asked, and Mystic stopped, her ears flicking.
Amy chuckled. “You really do.”
So we went, very slowly, down a road curving off around the buildings, the kids ahead.
“What do you think?” Amy asked.
I flashed on Cole, all grace and masculinity. Those deep brown eyes. His smile. Not the least bit effeminate. Not “swishy” at all.
“Oh, Pop, please” came my daughter’s voice in my head. “What’d you think? Gay guys wear dresses or something?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “He’s not what I expected.”
“She,” Amy said, and I realized she was talking about the horse, not Cole. I blushed and hoped she wouldn’t notice.
“I’ll tell you in a bit,” I said.
It wasn’t long before Cole was at our side. He was riding a lovely dark brown horse with a black mane. “Look at you, Big Daddy!” Cole’s smile put his website photo to shame.
I tried to smile.
“Looking fine. Now remember, Mystic is a good horse. I can ride her without even using the reins. Just a little pressure with your legs to one side or another, and she’ll move. Amy, you ride ahead. Right now, we’ve got Neil and Mystic blocked in.”
“You got it,” she said, and with a slight kick of her heels and a clucking sound, she and Galavant moved off.
I looked after her and didn’t know if I wanted her to stay or was relieved she’d gone ahead. I was feeling like such a total incompetent and didn’t want her to witness me doing anything stupid.
Not that I wanted to do anything stupid in front of Cole.
But then looking at him I somehow felt as if it would be okay. There was no judgment in this young man. He was too kind. I felt a twinge of guilt.
“Now put a little pressure on her right side.”
I tried it, and Mystic immediately started turning to the right. “Whoa!” I said in surprise, and when she came to a sudden stop, I realized she had responded once again.
“See what good a girl she is?” Cole stated.
I nodded. Yes. But I could hardly think of her as a “girl.” She was more than that.
“Do you have a hat?” Cole asked me.
“No,” I said. I hated them. My hair was nothing but a mop, and no cut could control it. I looked like an idiot with my hair as short as Cole’s, and if I wore a baseball cap, in no time at all I had hat hair from hell.
“We’re going to have to get you something or you’ll be burnt up by the end of the week.”
I sighed. “Okay.”
“I’d loan you one of mine, but I can see your head is bigger. You must be a lot smarter than me.”
“Em said I had a thick skull,” I said.
“My wife—” My throat caught. “She’s… she passed away two years ago,” I explained, then wondered why. It was none of his business.
“I’m sorry,” Cole said.
I turned to him.
“Really. I am.”
I looked into his face and saw those eyes, usually filled with mirth, now deep with sincerity, and saw he did mean it. “I—” My throat almost caught again. “Thank you.”
“A little kick with your heels. It doesn’t take much,” he said.
And we were off.
For some reason, I kept making Mystic stop, and I wasn’t sure how.
“When you turn her reins,” Cole said, “you’re pulling back.”
“I am?” It didn’t feel like it.
“Keep your hand lower. Almost rest it there at her mane. And try not to grip the saddle horn. No need to white knuckle it, Big Daddy.”
I blushed again.
“You’re doing fine,,” he said. “Rest your left hand on your thigh. Yeah, that’s right. You are right-handed?”
“Yes,” I said, trying not to sound terrified.
I dared a look at Cole.
“You’re doing great.”
“Really,” he assured me. “I mean it. I wouldn’t lie. The only time Mystic ever dumped anyone was because the riders were assholes. You’re not an asshole. She knows. Trust me, okay?”
I glanced at him.
“Do you trust me?”
Did I have any reason not to?
“You do, don’t you?”
“I—I think I do.”
“I’m glad,” Cole said. “I trust you. And so does Mystic.”
“She does?” I felt like a little boy who had just been praised. It felt nice.
“She’s looking at you, you know.”
“She is?” I looked at her, and she seemed to be looking straight ahead, although I could see the edge of her one eye.
“Yep, she can see you.”
I checked again and… was she? Why, she might be, I thought. Her ears turned.
“You can tell what she’s paying attention to by watching her ears, and she’s paying attention to us right now.”
“Gosh,” I said. “Is that true, Mystic?” I asked her, and she let out the classic sound all horses make in the movies. Not the neighing, but the gentler sound. A blowing of air.
“Whickering,” Cole told me.
“Wow!” I couldn’t help saying.
I joined him. It felt good. Felt good to laugh, and it felt good to ride this magical animal, and it… I. I felt good.
PS: Some of you might have noticed that this novel is a second edition. A word or two on that. When I originally wrote this story, the publisher limited my word count to forty thousand words. Which wasn’t enough. I reached 40k and my guys had just barely fallen in love. I had to wrap it up fast and I didn’t like the results. Thankfully, the publishers and my readers still liked it. But when the rights to the story reverted to me, I took it to Dreamspinner Press and they liked it. But they agreed with me. The story wrapped up way too fast. And they gave me a great opportunity. In this case, second edition means I added over twenty thousand words! I fleshed it out and gave the book the ending I always wanted it to have. If you haven’t read my story, I am confidant you’ll love my tale of cowboys. If you have read the original, I think this new version will be worth your time. I think you’ll love what I’ve done. I’m that confident!
Namaste everyone. Hopefully I will see you at Black Bear Guest Ranch!BG “Ben” Thomas
About the author:
B.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband of more than a decade and their fabulous dogs Sarah Jane and Oliver. He is blessed to have a lovely daughter as well as many extraordinary friends. He has a great passion for life.
B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction, and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to literature conventions his entire adult life where he’s been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was a child; it is where he finds his joy.
In the nineties, he wrote for gay adult magazines but stopped because the editors wanted all sex without plot. “The sex is never as important as the characters,” he says. “Who cares what they are doing if we don’t care about them?” Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he began writing again. He submitted a novella and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days. Since then the romantic tales have poured out of him. “It’s like I’m somehow making up for a lifetime’s worth of story-telling!”
“Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message. “It is never too late,” he testifies. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”
Connect with Ben on his website and Facebook.
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