“Nice of you to finally show up,” Deacon says.
Grabbing the pitcher of beer from the center of the table, he raises his eyebrow at me. When I nod, he pours me one.
“Family shit.” I accept the mug and take a drink. I’m usually not a big drinker, but tonight it feels like I’ve earned it.
“Your dad?” Tucker asks.
Deacon wraps his hands around his mug. “How is he?”
“Same shit, different day.”
I shake my head. “Fell off the wagon again.”
“Damn.” Tucker grips my shoulder and frowns. “Maybe next time. I’m sorry, dude.”
“Don’t be,” I say, shrugging him off because I’m grumpy—the same way I always am when I leave Dad’s house.
“You okay?” he asks.
Fuck, no. I’m working my ass into the ground and taking care of a man who used to beat the livin’ shit out of me.
“Hell no, I’m not okay. I’m exhausted.” Taking my hat off, I run my hand through my hair and then put it back on.
“You know what you need?” Deacon asks.
Lifting my mug, I take another drink. “Something stronger?”
“Nah, man. You don’t want to get into the same shit your dad got into.”
My stomach sours at the thought, and I push my beer to the center of the table. The last thing I need is to turn into my father.
“What you need is a tight, warm pussy.”
That’s the other last thing I need.
I’m not one to sleep around. Mostly because as much as I don’t want to turn out like my father, I really don’t want to turn out like my mother. Haven’t heard from her in years, but mention her name to anyone in town, and they’ll think of one thing: whore. She slept with anyone willing to put a beer in her hand and a dick between her legs. And that’s a title I don’t want to keep in the family.
Which leaves me with two options: stay single and keep my dick in my pants, or find a nice girl, settle down, and commit—something I put the brakes on years ago.
In my world, people cheat, steal, hit, and lie. And the promise of love is nothing more than an empty declaration designed to bring down a person’s walls.
Once those walls are gone, you’re left exposed and vulnerable to a world of hurt.
I’ve had enough hurt in my life, and I refuse to bring a woman into my fucked-up world because it’s inevitable: one of these days I’ll lose what little strength l have and fall fast and hard into the life my parents lived—the life I grew up in. And God help the woman beside me when that happens.
Until then, I do what any good ol’ boy does. I watch porn, work the hell out of my right hand, and when the urge gets too strong, I get rip-roaring drunk, take home a nameless, faceless woman, and the next morning I vow to never do it again.
Tonight that urge is strong, but not overpowering.
“Nah, man. I’ve seen what this bar has to offer. I don’t need a buckle bunny attaching herself to me.”
The Broken Boot is the best damn bar in Houston. The leather seats are torn, the hardwood floor is scuffed from years of dancing, and the smell of stale beer hangs in the air, but there’s nowhere I’d rather be.
Except maybe on the back of a two-ton bull in the middle of a sold-out arena, but that dream died, and The Broken Boot is second best.
Here, money doesn’t matter. No one gives a fuck where I come from or where I’m going. I’m just another bull rider in a town full of cowboys, and that’s how I like it.
“I’m not talking about a buckle bunny,” Deacon says. “I’m referring to a fresh face. Someone I’ve never seen in here before.”
Tucker lets out a low whistle. “Trust me, brother, this woman is just what the doctor ordered to pull you out of whatever funk you’re in. Perky tits, tight ass, and curves for miles.”
“If she’s so perfect, why the hell haven’t you hit on her?”
“He has,” Deacon says, laughing. “She shot him down cold.”
Tucker shoves Deacon. “She didn’t shoot me down.”
“You’re right. She smiled and patted your back. I think that’s worse.” Deacon’s eyes lock on something over my shoulder and his smile grows. “Don’t look now, but here comes the brown-eyed beauty.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stand up before I’m fully turned around. That’s only ever happened with one woman.