A Bit of Rough

an excerpt



James sat down on the nearest bar stool, ignoring the way his jeans refused to slip over the worn vinyl. He swung one foot back and forth over the broken floor tiles making a gritty sound; the thick leather soles of his boots peeling a layer of dirt off with each pass.

He ordered a Bud from the barmaid, noting the way her C-cups strained against the thin fabric of her low cut halter-top. It was impressive and the blatant, inviting look she gave him in return offered a guarantee of a better look after closing time if he wanted it. James gave her his best 'thanks, but no thanks' smile and sipped his beer, rotating on the stool to get a better view of the rest of the room.

The Atlantic Bar was a biker dive, complete with pool tables, rock and roll music, and a small time drug deal going down just outside the back exit. Led Zeppelin blared out a number on the jukebox and both pool tables had games going. The majority of the patrons were members of the leather and chrome set. Tattoos, tight jeans and shirtless black vests dominated the dress code for both sexes.

This wasn't his usual kind of haunt, but he'd decided earlier tonight to do something unexpected, exciting, different. So instead of spending a Friday night at home, James Joseph Justin, architect and former altar boy, was cruising a biker bar for a one-night stand. Anyone with a cup size, even a C-cup like the well-endowed barmaid, need not apply.

At five-foot seven, one hundred forty-two pounds, there was nothing physically intimidating or impressive about James, but he could win over most any problem with his charm and little boy looks. Dark, unruly curls and a pair of wide, sapphire eyes softened even the most resistant during his normal day-to-day interactions. He doubted that would work here if he tried to attract the attention of the wrong guy.

A burst of catcalls and whistles from the far pool table attracted his attention. A deep, soft rumble of laughter cut through the cheers and the background noise to pique James' interest. The sound sent a buzz of arousal through him, making him shift his hips on the stool to ease the sudden tightening of his jeans.

Another murmur of high spirits erupted from the group of men clustered around the end of the table, and James' curious eyes found the source of the low, pleasant voice. Standing between two T-shirted, leather vested, ponytailed bikers was a tall, broad-shouldered, sandy-haired man dressed in denim and cowboy boots. Even from his seat at the bar, James could see the jeans, denim jacket and faded, blue shirt all matched the pale blue of the big man's eyes. James' jeans got a little bit tighter.

The cowboy chalked the end of his cue and moved into place at the end of the table, leaning down to take his shot. Sinking the five-ball in the middle pocket, the man smiled, and glanced up from his conquest, laser blue eyes locking unerringly on James' hungry, unprepared stare. He took his time standing back up, holding James in his sights the entire time, his expression unreadable.

Unable to break away from the mesmerizing stare, James blushed, squirming a little on his stool. Eyes still locked with the stranger's, James watched as the man snagged his beer off the edge of the table and took a drink, arching his neck and swallowing in long, drawn out gulps that made his throat move in an all too-seductive fashion for James' rising libido. After lowering the bottle, the stranger smiled at him, breaking the stare.

James gulped down half his beer and got up to move closer. Taking up a spot by a rough wooden post, he leaned against the support and took another sip of his beer, playing the part of just another interested spectator in the room.

The cowboy rounded the table, studying the lie of the balls, intent on his next move. Picking a tight angle from James' side of the table, the large man bent over to line up his shot, his hip making contact with James as he suddenly pulled back for the shot. James shifted to one side, startled by the unexpected touch. The stranger held the shot, straightened up and stepped in close to him, inhaling deeply.

James' breath turned to soft, little pants at the stranger's abrupt nearness. The man smelt of sweat and leather, a faint, pleasant scent that made James harden against the rough fabric of his jeans. The slight, abrasive rub of the front seam was a relief to the portion of his body seeking more immediate attention.

"Sorry."

James stepped back to give the man room and found himself brought up short against the support beam. The stranger stepped closer, trapping James between himself and the post, a position James wouldn't have minded if they hadn't been in a room full of people. Likely, no one was close enough to overhear any conversation that might take place. The big man was free to flirt or threaten, as the mood struck him. James wasn't sure which, if either, would happen, but he was definitely interested in the tall, hard body currently blocking his view of the room.

James looked up from under his lashes to see an amused, self-assured smile on the man's handsome face. He dropped his gaze, feeling self-conscious and nervous. Did the guy know what he'd been thinking? Could he see the lust in his face, read the willingness in his eyes? Was the smile genuine or just a preamble to punching him out? The same pleasant rumble from earlier drew his eyes back up to the tanned and weathered face in front of him.

"Excuse me. Need a little room to make my move." The cowboy swayed his weight from one foot to the other, his thigh grazing James' hip on the forward motion. He slid the pool cue through his hands, drawing James' eyes down to watch as the cowboy's long fingers stroked over the rod.

James glanced at the few poorly placed balls left on the table. "Doesn't look like you've got much of a shot left."

The big man smiled and glanced over his shoulder at the set up. "Seven ball center pocket." His gaze narrowed, appraising James from head to toe, settling on his clean- face. "After I win, how about I buy you a beer?"

"That's impossible."

Cowboy snorted a dry chuckle. "Which? The shot or buying you a drink?"

James swallowed and huffed out a shaky breath. His nervous habit of biting at his lower lip made the man's eyes flicker down to his mouth. James released his lip and licked over the abused flesh, his mouth suddenly dry.

"The shot. No way you can sink the seven-ball in the center pocket. You can't get the angle right." James shook his head, regretting the fact the man was going to lose the game and he would lose the opening for a drink with him. "I know about angles. It's part of my job."

"I like a challenge." One blue eye winked at him. "Decide what kind of beer you want."

There was something possessive and demanding in the soft, gravel tones that made James shiver. He covered his reaction by shrugging his shoulders and relaxing onto the uneven surface of the post at his back.

He nodded. "Okay. If you want to." The stranger held his gaze for a moment longer before smiling and stepping away.

"Oh, I want to." His voice was pitched low, rich and filled with a seductive promise. "This'll just take a minute."

The cowboy rejoined his opponent at the pool table, calling out the shot. The announcement was met with a grunt and a pleased grin from the biker. Seconds later the grin dissolved into a look of awe.

Cowboy spiked the cue ball, skipping it over a blockade of even numbered balls. It ricocheted off the far end at the perfect angle to clip the seven-ball, sending it straight into the center pocket. True to his word, it took him less than a minute to run the table and win the game. He collected his money, hung up his cue stick, and acknowledged the friendly slaps and grudging compliments of the spectators around the table, then walked back over towards James. He flashed a quick smile, showing rows of even, white teeth and a cleft in the middle of his chin. With a tilt of his head, he gestured toward the bar.

James hesitated a moment, then walked to the only empty seat at the bar. Before he could claim it, the stranger stepped ahead of him and swung his taller frame onto the vinyl. James found himself wedged between the man's knees on the left and a biker covered with chains and tattoos on his right.

The cowboy sprawled on the narrow stool, spreading his legs to create more space. Jostled on the right by an unyielding shoulder, James had no choice but to shift into the opening.

The man swiveled the stool, drawing his legs under the counter and bringing James along with them. He rested a knee against the firm surface of James' backside. Smiling at the startled look on James' face, he nonchalantly swiveled the stool back and forth, rubbing his thigh over the swell of flesh. James pressed back against the cowboy's leg, telling him the attention wasn't unwelcome. He trembled against the man's thigh.

Leaning in to make sure he could be heard over the pounding Bob Seager tune, Cowboy flagged the bartender and ordered two bottles of Budweiser. He threw a ten-dollar bill on the bar, picked up both long necks with one hand and stood up. Offering a bottle to James, he ducked close until their cheeks brushed, his prickly, five o'clock shadow bristling against James' smooth face.

"Let's get some air."

Without waiting for an answer, Cowboy started in the direction of the back exit, taking a swallow from his bottle every few feet. He was halfway across the floor before he realized James hadn't followed him. The younger man was still standing at the bar, an uncertain look on his face. The cowboy stood where he was, his gaze locked on James' face, waiting patiently for him to make up his mind.

James could feel the weight of the man's eyes on him, his raw intensity and the heat of his hungry gaze. It pulled at him from across the room, drawing him to the man's side.

The man's gaze never wavered, taking on a satisfied glint as James came to his side. He kept his eyes riveted on James' face, speaking only loud enough for James to hear.

"Do I have to drag you out?"

James felt a shiver of excitement shoot through to his groin. He could barely get his answer out of his tightening throat.

"No."

The man gave James an appraising glance that traveled from head to toe and back again. "But you'd like me to, wouldn't you?" The nervous way James licked his lips was answer enough. Cowboy turned for the back exit. James followed this time.

Once they reached the cooler air of the alleyway, James was forced to stop for a moment to refuse an offer to join a three-man group sharing a pipe. By the time he looked around, the taller man was nowhere to be seen in the dark, narrow lane.

A large, dark red pick-up truck was the only thing in the alley besides a dumpster and several old crates. James took a huge gulp of his beer then set it down on a nearby box. Hesitant, he walked towards the depths of the shadows, squinting to make the most of the pale moonlight.

Three-quarters of the way into the alley, James was suddenly yanked into a deep alcove and slammed up against a wall. A hard body pinned him in place, the sharp edges of the brick surface gouging his back through the thin fabric of his T-shirt. The pain barely registered, as a low, sultry voice by his ear demanded his attention.

"That makes twice you've left me hanging. I don't think I like that."

A knee was forced between his legs and Cowboy's weight settled heavily against his aching groin. James looked up into a pair of hungry eyes that glittered in the dim light. Waves of lust rolled off of his captor, washing over him like pounding surf, dragging him along with the dangerous undertow, and making it hard for him to breathe. A noticeable shudder ran down his spine.

"You're shaking, baby. Excitement..." A callused fingertip ran down the length of his neck and back up to stroke over his open, panting mouth. "Or fear? Doesn't really matter to me." Another shudder rippled through James. Cowboy grinned. "I like you trembling against me, because of me, whatever the reason."

The thigh pressing his legs apart rubbed side to side, massaging the growing bulge in his jeans. James groaned and bit down on one corner of his lower lip to hold back a startled yelp when the pressure increased to the point of near pain.