Award-winning Western author Sarah M. Anderson proves love needs no words in this sexy male/male novella about two rodeo cowboys facing their future once the rodeo ends
As The Heartbreak Kid, Mitch Jenner is known as the biggest womanizer of all the rodeo cowboys—but it’s just an act to keep himself safe. In fact, Mitch is so afraid of coming out that he’s opted to stay single—and a virgin. He’s fine with being alone…until he meets the mysterious Paulo.
Paulo Bernardes is here to learn the American style of bull riding well enough to teach it back home in Brazil. A namorado—a boyfriend—will distract him from his goal, but he’s captivated by Mitch, who understands him even when they don’t speak the same language. In return, Paulo wants Mitch to accept himself—and their relationship.
In private, Mitch yields to his attraction to Paulo and is rewarded with a heat and tenderness he comes to crave. But he still fears exposing their relationship. And as they grow closer, Paulo wonders how he’ll live without Mitch once their time together is up—how he’ll pick up the pieces of his heart when it’s time to say goodbye.
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When the Heartbreak Kid danced with a woman, he always held her tight, as if he couldn’t bear to let even an inch of space keep them apart.
God, he hated it.
“Oh, Bobbi Jean,” Mitch crooned in his latest partner’s ear as they danced cheek to cheek around a bar somewhere near Amarillo, Texas. “I can’t believe I’ve found you.”
“Oh, Mitch,” Bobbi Jean murmured back. The scent of her perfume overwhelmed his sense of smell—which was something because Mitch smelled like dirt from where he’d hit the ground after making the time during both the long and short goes.
If he rode the bulls tomorrow night like he had tonight, he’d win this weekend. Not bad for his third year as a professional bull rider. If he kept this up, he might make it to the bigs in a year or two.
If that meant he had to keep dancing with the Bobbi Jeans of the world, then that’s what he’d do—no matter how much he hated being the Heartbreak Kid.
Facts were facts. The Total Bull Championship circuit hadn’t ever had a gay bull rider. Well, not an out gay bull rider, at least. And Mitch, coward that he was, didn’t have it in him to be the first.
“Don’t be such a faggot.” The slur floated out of nowhere, just a part of an everyday conversation.
Mitch winced—internally, of course—and tried to casually spin Bobbi Jean in a circle so he could see who’d said it. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Just a bunch of cowboys drinking and hitting on women.
He’d rather take his chances with the bulls.
“Darlin’,” he whispered as the band moved from mangling a Toby Keith song to abusing Jason Aldean, “will you be here tomorrow night?”
“I might,” Bobbi Jean whispered back. She pulled him in tighter, one of her hands sliding down to squeeze his butt. “Unless there’s somewhere else you want to go?”
She was gorgeous, and if he were straight, he’d have her out in the back of his Bronco right now. But he wasn’t. So he had to hedge.
Luckily, this wasn’t his first rodeo.
He leaned back enough to look deeply into her eyes. “Oh, Bobbi Jean—would you really?”
She blushed and tucked her lower lip under her teeth. “No one’s ever danced me around like you have.”
He sucked it up and did what he had to do—he kissed her.
If he’d had a sister, it would have been like kissing her. The whole experience—especially when she opened her mouth and touched her tongue to his lips—left him cold. He ran through his second ride tonight. The bull had broken left when Mitch had expected him to go right but he’d dug his spurs in and managed to hang on until the buzzer. But the landing had been a little rough and his shoulder was aching.
“Whooee! The Heartbreak Kid’s at it again!” someone shouted.
He broke the kiss before people could start cheering him on. Mitch sighed. He hoped it sounded like a sigh of contentment. “Baby,” he said, touching his forehead to hers, “I haven’t ever felt like this before. This is…” He stopped in the middle of the dance floor, as if he couldn’t slow dance and emote at the same time.
“Yes?” Bobbi Jean’s eyes were wide with hope.
“This is special, baby. I don’t want to rush this—I want to do it right.”
“Really?” Doubt—or was that suspicion?—wrinkled her pretty brow.
Crap. That line usually worked like a dream. He told a beautiful woman he’d never felt this way before, that she was worth the wait. He selected the women in the bar who looked like they’d be most receptive to his particular brand of charm.
Bobbi Jean might not be as receptive as he’d hoped. So he went for the kill. “I’ve been waiting a long time for you, Bobbi Jean.” He usually saved that line for later on, after he’d danced the same woman around for more than a few hours. But desperate times and all that jazz. “You’re the woman I want to bring home to meet my momma.” He made damn sure to look like he was in love when he said it.
“Oh, Mitch!” Her face lit up before she threw her arms around his neck and squealed in his ear.
Mitch spun her around. He’d have to come up with a better reason to not sleep with her tomorrow night. If he got lucky, a bull would step on him. If he got really lucky, another one of the riders would decide to prove that they were better than the Heartbreak Kid and make a move on Bobbi Jean.
They settled into another slow dance as the band desecrated Carrie Underwood’s latest.
That’s when Mitch realized they were being watched.
At first he didn’t recognize the cowboy sitting in the dim corner. His black hat was pulled low over his eyes, and he wore a tight black T-shirt that highlighted his chest—the kind of chest that did a heck of a lot more for Mitch than Bobbi Jean’s ever would.
Hot damn, that was a good-looking man. But Mitch refused to allow himself to stare and lost sight of the cowboy as he and Bobbi Jean spun another achingly slow turn around the floor. When Mitch sighted the cowboy again, he hadn’t moved.
With a start, Mitch realized the man was the Brazilian—Mitch was sure the guy had an actual name but that’s all that he’d heard the man called. He was new on the circuit this season and, thus far, he’d been little better than a ghost. He showed up at the arenas, rode, and disappeared again, all without saying a word to anyone.
The Brazilian was here? No, that wasn’t the right question.
The Brazilian was watching him? Or was he watching Bobbi Jean?
Well, he was watching one of them, that much was for sure. The brim of that black hat followed Mitch and Bobbi Jean as they moved around the floor.
A thrill of excitement started low in Mitch’s gut. If the Brazilian was watching Bobbi Jean, that would be the perfect out. They could get into a shoving match and Mitch could take a fall and that’d be that. The Heartbreak Kid couldn’t win them all.
But that wasn’t the thought that excited him. What if…
What if the Brazilian was watching him?
The dude was hot. Tight black T-shirts didn’t lie. The Brazilian was the physical embodiment of tall, dark and handsome—and mysterious to boot.
Mitch didn’t allow himself to crush on his fellow riders because that was the definition of insanity. What the hell would be the point of being the Heartbreak Kid if he was going to blow his cover by hitting on a straight bull rider?
Mitch was no idiot. That was how a man got the shit beat out of him.
But if the Brazilian were watching him—if the Brazilian made the first move…
Images flashed through Mitch’s head—the Brazilian pinning Mitch against a wall, their lips meeting in a heated crush as he fumbled with the Brazilian’s buckle and the Brazilian jerked Mitch’s shirt open and…
No. This was exactly the reason he didn’t allow himself to fantasize about bull riders. It went straight to his…head.
So Mitch kept right on dancing Bobbi Jean around the floor. He had a mission here and that mission did not include making eyes at a man who probably didn’t even speak English. Mitch was at this bar for one reason and one reason only—to make sure everyone on the circuit thought he was the biggest womanizer in the bunch.
The Brazilian’s hat brim kept right on following them, lap after pointless lap.
Mitch shouldn’t. He absolutely shouldn’t do anything to engage with the Brazilian. If—and that was still a big if—Mitch was going to pick up a man, it sure as hell wasn’t going to be a man who was, essentially, a coworker. You didn’t shit where you ate. It was that simple.
“I need a drink, darlin’,” Mitch said, leading Bobbi Jean toward the Brazilian’s end of the room. This was not him testing the waters. Not at all. This was him figuring out if a fistfight with a challenger would solve his girlfriend problem. “What can I get you?”
They sidled up to the bar, mere feet from the Brazilian. If Mitch remembered correctly, the Brazilian had made the time in the long go, but hadn’t in the short.
Mitch slung his arm around Bobbi Jean’s shoulders and pivoted toward the Brazilian.
Oh, Jesus—those eyes were an inky black and they were staring right at him. Not at her. Heat built low in his back as their gazes locked.
“Good ride tonight, bud.” Mitch was horrified to hear his voice waver. God, he hoped Bobbi Jean hadn’t heard that.
The Brazilian leaned back enough that Mitch could see one of his eyebrows lift.
“Who’s this?” Bobbi Jean said, her voice perking up. “Friend of yours?”
“New rider—what’s your name?”
The Brazilian didn’t answer, he just took another pull on his longneck. Mitch was absolutely not staring at the man’s mouth. Nope.
“What’s the matter with him?” Bobbi Jean stared at the Brazilian with open curiosity. “Don’t he talk?”
“Do you speak English?”
One of the Brazilian’s eyebrows moved—was that a yes? Mitch tried again. “Hablo español?”
That got Mitch a dull look. That was clearly a no.
Then he remembered that the language of Brazil wasn’t Spanish. “Portuguese, right?” If this guy understood Mitch, he’d just made an ass of himself. “I don’t speak Portuguese,” he apologized.
Bobbi Jean leaned into Mitch’s arm. “Maybe he’s one of those deaf-mutes or something?”
The Brazilian’s eyes cut to Bobbi Jean and back to Mitch so fast that Mitch almost didn’t see it. Then he lifted his eyebrow again.
Was that a question? It sure as hell felt like one. Mitch gave his head the tiniest of shakes. No, he wasn’t really with her. He just had to make it look like that.
Was he imagining things, or did the corner of the Brazilian’s mouth curve up? Before Mitch could decide, the man lifted his longneck. As Mitch watched, the tip of the Brazilian’s tongue slipped out of his mouth, tracing the seam of his lips. Then the bottle was against his mouth.
Sweet Jesus. He was definitely staring at the man’s mouth now. Mitch’s blood pounded and he went hard behind his buckle. What would it feel like for the Brazilian’s tongue to touch his lips like that? Mitch wanted to pull that bottle away and grab the Brazilian’s face in his hands and—
“Mitch, baby.” Bobbi Jean ran her hands up and down the front of his shirt. It was probably supposed to be erotic but in reality, it felt like she was petting a puppy. “Why don’t we…”
“What?” Mitch shook back to himself and looked around. The band was still playing badly. People were still drinking beer and talking too loudly. Nothing had changed.
Except he’d changed. Everything about him was different now.
Dammit. He was crushing on a bull rider.