The crowd ramps up for action, cheering, bellowing a noisy welcome. They want me out there. Riding that bull like my life depends on it. I wink at a chick I’ve been eyeballing for the last ten minutes and signal the helper to get ready for me.
Riding women and bulls is my specialty.
I’m a pro at both.
I’ve done this a million times.
Heck, I could probably do it in my sleep.
I spin around at the sound of the unfamiliar voice, an easy-going grin on my lips. My eyes quickly appraise the blonde chick. She’s in her early twenties and wearing a bright shade of pink lipstick. I almost expect her to start chewing bubble gum, but she doesn’t. Instead, she bounces toward me, her breasts on full display in the thin tank top she probably calls a shirt.
“Hey, darlin’. You probably came to see me.” Darlin’ is my standard pet name. I don’t bother to ask for her real name when I have no intention of remembering it.
She giggles, the sound slightly grating on my nerves. But hey, she’s here and she’s obviously available. And more importantly, I haven’t fucked her yet, hence she’s fresh meat.
“I actually came with my friends. We’ve been dying to see you.” She’s pointing to my right to a group of young women, waving. “I was hoping I’d bump into you.” She wraps a long lock of hair around her finger and winks. It’s beyond me why women think that’s a turn on. But I play along.
I always do.
The invitation is there, hanging in the air between us. “Today’s your lucky day. I’m game for more than a bit of small talk.”
I grin, and she giggles. I check the time, wondering whether I could squeeze in a quickie before that bull meets his demise, and grimace. “Give me twenty minutes.”
She pouts but nods her head.
I check the average on the board before I draw the bull. A rank bull named Dillinger is going to be my one last win before I’m crowned champ of the world. Dillinger is known for his dangerous temper and tendency for bucking. In the last six years and over two hundred outs, he’s thrown every single rider. All fear him. Many have opted out.
But he hasn’t met me yet.
I’m going to tame the beast because I was born for this.
“Cash Boyd, ladies and gentleman,” the announcer says, laying out the highs and few lows of my career, then goes on to rattle down Dillinger’s rap sheet.
The crowd goes wild. I grin for the cameras. The flank man’s ready.
This is the moment everyone’s been waiting for.
Cash Boyd—bull riding champion of the world.
A camera’s angling on me from somewhere above.
I can almost taste the success as I’m readying myself in my designated chute. I slip my palm under the handle, and pulling the rope tight, I wrap the loose tail around my hand. Adjusting my body until the handle is in the right position, I signal the gate man.
The buzzer rings.
The chute gate swings open.
The familiar rush of adrenaline flows through me.
Excitement vibrates through my body.
Eight seconds—that’s how long I have to hold on.
It’s all about reaction, speed, adjustment.
Show no fear.
Using my spurs to hold on to the body is the hardest part. Too far back and I’ll fall. Too far forward and I’m done. Kicking his hind legs, I can tell Dillinger is one angry bull that knows how to throw.
The noise of the crowd becomes a thrumming backdrop in my mind as I cling on to Dillinger. As expected, he lunges forward, then spins wildly with a savage buck. My muscles ache from the effort of cutting with him.
For the first few seconds, I anticipate his every move, every buck, every change in direction.
I control him.
My pulse is racing in a good way.
Cash Boyd—world champ.
The bull beneath me thrashes and rears.
A few more seconds and the world champ title is mine.
But something happens. A moment of poor focus. Just when I think I’ve figured out his next move, the bull spins too wildly, far to the right, and my balance shifts. I lose my grip. My body doesn’t register it until I land hard on my side, all the air knocked out of my lungs. The crowd gasps—or maybe it’s just me.
A sharp pang shoots up my legs, and I grimace, blinded by the white-hot pain surging through me.
My first impulse is to get up, but everything is throbbing and burning.
The buzzer sounds, but it’s too late.
“Cash, get the fuck away!” someone yells. Is that my brother, Kellan?
I almost turn to scan the crowd for my family when the bull lowers his horns. He’s hooking for me.
Groaning, I try to clamber to my feet to get out of the way, but my legs won’t carry me.
“Cash!” More people yell, their voices barely penetrating the aching fog inside my mind.
My world’s spinning, and not in a good way. The bull’s dashing for me. Voices shout. I think I see a rodeo clown trying to distract the beast, but I can’t tell for sure because my vision’s blurry and everything’s spinning.
Hands wrap around my arms and shoulders, their grip rough, crushing my bones. I peer around me, realizing those aren’t hands, but horns. I’m being lifted up in the air, and for a brief second, I peer straight into Dillinger’s angry eyes.
The motherfucker got me.
My body’s an aching pulp.
I was so close to winning.
That’s my last coherent thought before I close my eyes and succumb to the darkness, eager to escape the pain.