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Roping & Rutting

(Kinky Cowboys, Book 9)

by Anitra Lynn McLeod

Copyright 2019 by Anitra Lynn McLeod



License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This novel is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

About This Series

Sexy cowboys with playful kinks are going to heat up things in Climax, Colorado. Each stand-alone story combines gorgeous men, passionate encounters, and a happily ever after that will touch your heart. These feel-good stories have absolutely no cheating, low angst, and plenty of romance.







About This Book

Coy didn't think anyone would be able to save him from drowning until Hunter Rojas managed to do what twelve other cowboys couldn't. Not only does Hunter save Coy's life, but when it becomes clear Coy is running from danger, Hunter vows to protect him. Learning to trust is difficult but will they be brave enough to break down the wall that stands between them or will they let true love slip away?





This slow burn contemporary western M/M romance contains a young man with a secret, an older man with a hurtful past, a shared love of reading, and a happily ever after that can't be denied. 33,500 words or 134 pages.











Chapter One

Coy figured he was done for. Twelve cowboys had tried and failed to get him out of this massive mud hole but maybe thirteen would be his lucky number. He doubted it fiercely, but he felt in his final moments he should have hope. Foolish hope, but still, he didn't want to drown with fear in his heart and a scream on his lips.

When his last hope arrived, Coy felt something he'd never felt toward another man: unshakeable faith. His savior rode high in the saddle, the battered hat on his head shading his eyes but the sleeveless shirt showed off powerful arms. Lifting himself up to stand in the stirrups, he detached a coiled rope from his hip and swung it around and over his head before flinging the end toward Coy. To his shock, it landed within grabbing distance. Every other cowboy had tried the same thing but hadn't gotten close. Once the mucky water weighted down the rope, they couldn't throw it again. It was a one-shot deal that only this cowboy—this mysterious, intriguing cowboy—had nailed.

Coy grabbed the rope.

"Wrap it around your waist," the man said, his big hand wrapping the other end around his saddle horn.

To do that, Coy would have to take his foot off the hunk of wood, the only thing that spared him from drowning. The chunk of timber was still sinking slowly, but if he stepped off he might not be able to find it again if something went wrong. So far, everything that could go wrong had. Why shouldn't this?

"Trust me." The man lifted his hat, revealing pale eyes that his bronzed skin managed to highlight. "I know what I'm doing."

Coy believed him. He believed him so deeply that to not believe him would somehow be the worst thing he'd ever done in his life. Coy took a deep breath, pulled the rope around himself, and felt the wood below his foot shift away. He started to sink but before his head went under, he drew a deep breath and held it as hard as he held the rope.

When he felt himself moving toward the edge of the pond, relief almost made him relax but a renewed desire to live made him cling to the rope like a burr on a sock. Maybe, just maybe, there was something in life worth living for.

Unable to hold his breath anymore, he lifted his head and gasped in a new breath then redoubled his efforts to hang on. Along the way, he lost his favorite hat but he didn't care. He could buy another one. If he lived, that would be the second thing he would do. He'd go into town and buy the best goddamned hat he could afford with what little money he had left. But the first thing he would do is thank the man who'd saved him. He'd thank him in every way he could. Hell, right now he vowed to thank him in ways he probably shouldn't.

Once Coy got nearer to the shore, the assembled cowboys tried to help him but the man on horseback told them to get out of the way.

"I don't want to have to save the rest of you. Just let me do what I do."

Coy could hear him but he couldn't really see him, mainly because he had his eyes clenched tight against the watery muck. He got some in his mouth when he'd gulped air but he certainly didn't want that stuff in his eyes.

To his shock, he felt squishy mud under him and then solid land. Now he understood why people in old movies would wash ashore and kiss the sand. Coy had never wanted to kiss the ground but he did now. The odds of him ever going swimming again were slim to none.

"Back off."

Coy blinked and saw the man hop down from his horse.

"Don't worry. I've got you." He lifted Coy up as if he weighed no more than a puppy. He moved him well away from the pond before settling him on the ground, sitting up with his legs out in front of him. "No. Don't try to get up or move. Someone hand me some water." He wetted a bandana and then used it to gently wipe Coy's face. "You okay?"

"I am now."

He smiled.

"Who are you?" Coy asked.

"Hunter Rojas."

"I'm Coy. Thank you."

"You're welcome."

"I owe you my life."

Instead of answering, Hunter splashed more water on the bandana. "Here, you should drink some."

"The last thing I want is more water."

"At least rinse out your mouth."

Coy hadn't realized how much muck he'd taken in until he rinsed it out. He also didn't realize how raw his emotions until he felt tears prickling behind his eyes. No matter what he did to stop them, he couldn't.

"It's okay." Hunter settled down in the dirt next to him, pulling Coy against his powerful chest. "You're okay now."

Coy had honestly thought his life was over. He'd kept his foot on that slowly sinking log thinking of everything he'd done and all the things that he hadn't.

"How did you end up out there anyway?" Hunter asked.

"I was trying to save a coyote."

"You what?" Hunter lifted Coy's face, scrutinizing him like he needed to have his head examined.

"I thought the poor thing was drowning and so I went after him."

"You put your life at risk for a coyote?"

"Not really."

"I don't understand."

"It wasn't a coyote but a big piece of wood." Once Coy had gotten to it he'd realized his mistake. He couldn't swim his way out without getting sucked into the mud and the only thing to hang on to was slowly sinking. "The other cowboys tried to pull me out."

"I'm sure they did." Hunter spared the men standing around them a glance before turning those pale yet oddly intense eyes on Coy again. "You're lucky to be alive."

"I know. Thank you." Coy wrapped his arms around Hunter only realizing too late that he'd basically covered the man in muck and mess. "I'm sorry. I'm just shaking and I think I need to sit down."

"You are sitting down."

"I've never been so scared." Coy wanted to wrap himself around Hunter and cling to him for the rest of his life. In this man's arms, nothing in the world could hurt him.

"You're going to be okay."

Coy believed him. A man like this would never lie. Coy didn't dare look up at the other cowboys. They'd all tried to help and their frustration had only added to the fear he'd felt while the mud pulled him lower and lower.

"There's Sally Ann with the pickup," one of the cowboys said.

"Come on." Hunter rose to his feet, taking Coy with him. "I've got you."

"Where are you taking me?"

"To get cleaned up. To see a doctor."

"I don't need a doctor." The last place Coy wanted to go was anywhere with authority figures.

"Yes, you do."

Coy didn't want to argue with the man, not when he'd saved his life. "I can't stop shaking."

"You're in shock." Someone handed Hunter a blanket and he wrapped it around Coy then helped him climb into the cab of the truck.

"Don't leave me." Coy grabbed onto Hunter's sleeveless shirt only then realizing it was a multi-pocketed vest. "Please don't leave me."

"Okay. Just move over a bit. There you go."

"You wanna try to get a seat belt on him?" The young woman driving asked Hunter.

"I think we should just get moving, Sally Ann." Hunter slammed the door.

"I think so too." Sally Ann put the truck in gear and took off.

"My backpack."

"Don't worry about that." Hunter tightened his hold on Coy's shoulders. "They'll get your gear and my horse."

Again, Coy believed him.

"What were you doing out here?" Hunter asked.

"Camping." It sounded as good as any excuse.

"On the ranch?"

"It's a ranch?"

"You didn't notice all the cows?"

"I didn't see any." Through chattering teeth, Coy said, "I thought I was on forest land."

"I think you got your map turned around." Hunter pulled the blanket tighter around Coy's shoulders.

"Don't worry about it, okay?" Sally Ann patted a clean place on the blanket then put her hand back on the steering wheel. "We're gonna get you fixed up."

"Fixed up?"

"Don't worry about that either." Hunter shot Sally Ann a glance that baffled Coy. He wanted to ask what was going on but he was so cold and when Hunter asked him again why he'd been on that part of the ranch, he got distracted.

"I was…journaling. I saw some coyotes the day before and followed them and I woke up this morning and…and…" Coy shook so violently he couldn't speak. "Why is the truck shaking so much?"

"It's not—"

"It's a rough road." Hunter cut Sally Ann off. "Tell me more about the coyotes."

"I thought one was in the water but it was a log. Or a branch. Once I was out there, I couldn't get back and then the cowboys came but they couldn't help but then you came." Coy peered up at Hunter as if he'd hung the moon. "You saved my life."

"Just glad I could help."

"The other cowboys tried to throw me a rope but didn't even come close."

"You were pretty far out in the middle of that."

"You managed to get a rope out to me."

"Roping is my specialty."

"It is? I've never heard of anyone having roping as a specialty."

"How many cowboys do you know?"

"You, I guess?"

"Well, there you go." Hunter's warm smile soothed Coy.

"I should get out more." Coy realized he shouldn't have said that. He shouldn't be talking to anyone. "I have to go now."

"Go where?"

The question seemed an obvious one but he didn't want to answer. Actually, he couldn't. Coy had nowhere to go. Even if he did have somewhere to go, he had no way of getting there other than hitchhiking and that had not gone well for him the last time.

"Coy?"

"Please don't make me go back."

"To the mud?"

Coy nodded even though that wasn't what he'd meant at all. He was so cold and he couldn't think clearly and everything seemed to be spinning and the bumpy road made him shake like a paint mixer.

"I think you need to drive a little faster, Sally Ann. I think he's going into shock."

Coy heard the words but he didn't understand them. He'd just wanted to be free, to do the things he wanted to do, to lie in the sun and then spend the night looking at the stars.

"Coy? Coy?"

"Please don't tell them where I am."

"Who?" Hunter asked.

But Coy couldn't answer. The world went spinning and he knew no more.

Chapter Two

Coy woke up in a clean white bed in a clean white room that smelled so strongly of disinfectant it burned the inside of his nose and made him sneeze.

"Hello again."

Coy turned to the side and found a man sitting there. He had curly black hair and riveting pale eyes. Those compassionate eyes made him realize who the man was.

"Hunter."

"Coy." Hunter smiled, flashing slightly crooked teeth that were somehow sexier than perfect teeth could ever be. Maybe because, like the rest of him, they were real. He had plenty of muscle from real work and not a gym. "How are you feeling?"

"Good?" Coy realized he'd just asked instead of answering but he hadn't really taken stock of himself. He remembered writing on his laptop and then trying to rescue a coyote that turned out to be a hunk of wood and then the human hunk next to him had saved his worthless life. "You saved my life."

"Happy to help." Hunter lifted up a cup. "Thirsty?"

"Yeah." Coy couldn't remember ever being so thirsty. When the bed started moving he panicked but then realized he was in a hospital bed. Mercifully, his panic made him go stock still so Hunter might not have noticed.

Hunter lifted the cup to him.

Coy drew the straw into his mouth and drank the cup dry. "Can I have more?"

"Not just yet." Hunter returned the cup to the bedside table. "The nurse said only a little when you woke up. She said you'd be thirsty."

"What happened? I mean I remember the mud but how did that land me in the hospital?"

"Hypothermia."

"Wait, what? From mud?"

"Cold mud on a cold morning with a light wind. When I pulled you out, the breeze stripped what little heat you had left." Hunter placed his big, warm hand over Coy's. "You also cut your leg."

"I did? I didn't feel it."

"That would be because of the hypothermia." Hunter squeezed his hand with surprising gentleness for such a big man. "That might have also saved you from bleeding out."

"How badly did I cut myself?"

"From what the doctor said, you tore your leg on something. I'm guessing the hunk of wood."

Hunter's response didn't actually answer the question but Coy thought that might be on purpose. Like a cartoon character running off a cliff, he couldn't succumb to gravity until he looked down and realized he was hanging in midair. If Coy didn't know how bad the injury was, he couldn't feel any pain.

"Do you want me to ring for the nurse?" Hunter asked.

"No. I'm okay. It's just—I went out to save a piece of wood and somehow it managed to bite me. If that isn't my life in a nutshell, I don't know what is."

"You're safe now."

Three words filled him with hope. For a good minute, Coy allowed himself to feel safe. To trust that the warm bed and the strong hand were there to help him, not hurt him, but once those sixty seconds were gone, he realized he would never be safe. Never be free. As strong and powerful as Hunter might be, he'd never be able to protect Coy from his family. To ask him for help would be akin to involving him in an unwinnable war. Coy couldn't repay Hunter's kindness with that. He'd rather die.

"Coy?"

"I have to go."

"Go where?"

"Away from here." Coy tried to get up but that big, warm hand moved to the center of his chest. Hunter pinned him but not with overwhelming force. If anything, he used the lightest possible touch to get the job done. The profoundly careful treatment stopped Coy from trying to leave. It almost left him breathless. No one had ever touched him the way this man did.

"I know you probably have a million things to do, but right now, you need to get well."

"I feel fine."

"You've got a lot of pain killers in your system."

"I'll hobble you, boy. Like in that movie, Mercy. I'll put a block of wood between your ankles and whack them with a sledgehammer."

Coy stopped trying to get up. He reassessed himself but realized he wasn't feeling much of anything at all. Even focusing all his attention on the weight of the blankets didn't allow him to feel much of anything below his waist. Shielding his eyes with splayed fingers, he lifted the edge of the bed coverings and peered down. He half expected his feet to be gone, but they were there, at the end of his legs, right where they belonged. When he wiggled his toes, they moved, and he cried.

"Whoa, there." Hunter grasped his hand a little tighter but not so firmly it hurt. If anything, his strong touch lent Coy strength. "You're okay. Really. You're going to be fine. It was just a cut that seemed worse than it was. I didn't mean to scare you."

"I'm not scared." Coy was petrified, but he didn't want Hunter to know. He wouldn't let him get tangled up in his life and get hurt. "I have to go as soon as I can."

"Why?"

Desperate, Coy latched on to the most obvious reason. "I can't pay for a hospital stay. I don't have insurance. I don't even have—" a real name. Thankfully, he cut himself off from saying that. Instead, he said, "I don't even have cash to pay."

"You're in the Climax Clinic. No one here is going to hound you for payment, okay? The town funds it."

"Really?" Coy couldn't believe people cared enough about other people to do something like that. Only in stories did people care about other people. In real life, people didn't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut about other people.

"Really," Hunter assured him.

Still, Coy wanted to be up and gone, long gone, because they'd find him. They had before and they would again.

Lifting the blankets, Coy pulled up his hospital gown, revealing a huge bandage on his thigh.

"How bad…"

"You had a dozen or so stitches. But they got it clean. No sign of infection. Amazing, considering what must be in that mud pit."

"Guess I'm just lucky." Coy filled his voice with sarcasm. Luck avoided him like the plague.

"Well, I wouldn't go that far." Hunter had a rather grim expression. "I need you to be straight with me."

"I'd much rather be gay with you." Coy clapped his hand over his mouth. "I don't know why I said that."

"Drugs, probably. And it was funny." Hunter offered a half smile. "But that still leaves me with—"

"You're awake."

Coy turned his attention to the door. A short woman with a full afro entered in a white coat and white tennis shoes that squeaked lightly against the flooring.

"I'm Doctor Dunne." She picked up his chart, looked it over then put it back on the foot of his bed. "How are you feeling?"

"Better?"

"You don't sound too sure."

"Better." Coy tried to sound as sure as he could so he could get out of here. The sooner he got gone the better for everyone involved, especially Hunter.

"Good. That's what I like to hear." She settled on a stool then rolled it over to Coy's bedside.

"Should I go?" Hunter asked.

"Not unless Coy wants you to."

"You can stay. I don't mind." In fact, Coy would prefer that Hunter stayed with him. He felt safe with Hunter around. Strange, since he didn't even know him.

Hunter did move his rolling stool down a little to give the doctor more room. She listened to his heart, checked his blood pressure, and then removed the bandage to examine his wound.

Coy stared, horrified.

"I know it looks dreadful but that's actually a good thing," Doctor Dunne said.

"It is?"

"It means it's healing."

"But it's yellow."

"Part of that is the antiseptic solution we put on it."

"And the other part?"

"You bruised it. That's the color bruises turn when they heal."

"It's really gross."

"That may be." She pressed the call button. "But it's still good in terms of healing."

"When can I go?"

"We'd like to keep you another day."

"I'd rather go."

Doctor Dunne and Hunter exchange glances, reminding Coy of the way Sally Ann and Hunter had shared wordless communication in the truck on the way here. A day late and a dollar short, he got why. He'd been bleeding badly and Hunter had been trying to keep Coy from realizing. The thought jarred him. No one had ever tried to protect him. Coy wanted to turn to Hunter and thank him yet again, but he realized that the tables had turned. Hunter wasn't trying to protect him anymore. Now he was doing his best to help Doctor Dunne uncover secrets Coy thought best hidden.

"When you came in, you had no ID." Doctor Dunne lifted her eyebrows, waiting for an answer.

Coy immediately thought of his backpack. Hunter had said the cowboys would get it. If they had, they hadn't brought it to the hospital. Where was it? If he'd lost that, he'd lost almost everything he'd run to protect. But he couldn't let Hunter or the Doctor know that. Instead of giving anything away, Coy reverted to the age-old trick of answering a question with a question. "Does that matter?" Coy asked.

"We just need more information for our records."

"Information like what?"

"Your full name. Your social security number." She paused for two beats then added, "Your current address."

"I don't want to give you that."

Doctor Dunne and Hunter exchanged another meaningful glance.

Coy felt his heart accelerate. It was a good thing they didn't have him hooked up to one of those machines that tracked a patient's heart rate because it would be beeping like crazy right now.

"We just want to help you," Doctor Dunne said.

We just want to make sure you reach your full potential.

"I don't think you can make me give you that information," Coy blurted. "You can't arrest me for not giving it to you." Too late he realized he should have kept his mouth shut. Mentioning arrest just made Hunter and Doctor Dunne flash worried frowns at one another. Something had happened while Coy had been asleep. When he thought he knew what, he shoved the bedding aside.

"What do you think you're doing?" Hunter demanded, trying to catch him, but Coy had chosen the side of the bed opposite from where he and the doctor were sitting.

"I'm leaving. You can't make me stay. You can't—" Coy took one step on his injured leg and almost screamed. He would have hollered but all the air left his body in one big whoosh that almost dropped him to the floor. Pain pulsed upward, slamming first into his groin then up into his chest. Instead of drawing in another breath, his diaphragm spasmed, leaving him flapping his lips like a fish on the beach. He spun and grabbed the bed, clinging for dear life. If he fell, he knew the pain would only get worse.

"Hold on." Hunter moved behind him so fast Coy basically saw a blur. Big men usually lumbered but not this one. "I've got you." Hunter scooped him up and placed him back in the bed without inflicting any more pain on him. "Did he tear the stitches?"

Doctor Dunne leaned over Coy's leg. "No." She looked up into Coy's eyes. "But if you try something like that again you might."

Coy closed his eyes and silently willed them to leave. He could deal with the pain if they just went away. Of course, as soon as they did, he'd find a way to get his hands on a wheelchair. That would get him out of here and—damn. Where would he go? He didn't know where his backpack was. He had no clothing but what he had on right now. He supposed he could make something out of the stuff on the bed but doing that would pretty much mark him as an escaped medical patient. Calculating the odds quickly, Coy realized his best plan of action was to do nothing. Not until he had better odds of getting away.

"Coy?" Hunter leaned closer and placed his big, strong, and surprisingly warm hand against Coy's arm. "Are you okay?"

"No." Coy didn't want to cry but did anyway. "My leg really hurts."

"Let's see what we can do about that."

Coy cracked one eye open. He'd expected Doctor Dunne to hold pain medication out of reach until he gave her the information she wanted but she didn't do that. In under five minutes, Coy had been given something for the pain and the dressing on his bandage had been changed. Hunter also made a point of tucking the bedding around him. Kindness, care, and compassion. Three things Coy had never expected to get in his life.

"Look, Coy." Doctor Dunne sighed as she rose. "I don't know why you're afraid but it seems to me you have a good reason to be."

That made Coy's eyelids snap open. Did she know something? Had she heard something? He mentally reviewed everything in his backpack. He'd taken great care not to have anything that could lead back to his family. He'd even scrubbed his laptop clean before putting his work back on it.

"Someone hurt you." Doctor Dunne's eyes were at once worried but warm. "That's obvious. If someone is after you, we can help you."

No, you can't. People say that and then they just take me right back to my family.

Coy almost spoke. He almost opened his mouth and said those words. A part of him wanted to. He trusted Hunter and didn't even understand why. Doctor Dunne also seemed genuinely sympathetic toward him, but too many times people had tricked Coy. Too many times people wore masks. They promised him the world and then gave him a golf ball, telling him they were basically the same thing when they weren't. After trying and failing time after time to make someone understand, Coy had given up and run away. This time, he would stay gone even if he had to kill himself to make sure he never went home again.

Chapter Three

After trying to get him to talk and failing, Hunter and Doctor Dunne moved to the hall while Coy stayed in bed, floating on painkillers while watching them. They remained calm, their bodies held almost unnaturally still. They had to have seen the marks. But neither one of them could bring themselves to ask about those bruises. Or, more likely, they chalked those marks up to sports or something else that all teenaged boys did that earned them injuries. No one ever imagined the truth.

Coy wouldn't try to change their minds.

In fact, Coy wouldn't try to manipulate their thought processes at all. That was something his family excelled at. He could if he wanted to. He could probably do it well, but unlike his family, he would feel impossibly dirty afterward. Manipulating people didn't sit well with him. All Coy wanted to do was to live his life on his terms, free from the burden of other people's expectations.

Eventually, Hunter returned to Coy's bedside. For a big man, he moved with astonishing grace. Hunter had a gliding kind of smoothness that reminded Coy of an animal stalking prey. With a name like Hunter, it wasn't much wonder that even drugged up and out of his mind, Coy made the comparison.

"Coy?"

Instead of answering, Coy just shifted his wary gaze toward Hunter.

"I know you're running. So does Doctor Dunne. We're not trying to hurt you."

"I've heard that before."

"Have you?"

"I'm not telling you anything." Coy rolled away so that he faced the opposite wall, giving Hunter his back. "You can keep everything in my backpack. I don't care. I'll find another way."

"Another way to do what?" Hunter placed that big, warm, and so fucking comforting hand on Coy's hip. He wanted to scream at him to stop touching him but that wasn't the truth of what he wanted. He wanted Hunter to take those big hands of his and rub them all over Coy's willing body.

Just once, just one damn time, Coy wanted another man to touch him with lust and longing rather than anger and force. So far, Hunter hadn't touched him in anger, but Coy knew that the longer he lingered, the more likely that kind of touch would be. Men used their strength to control. Women used other ways. In the end, it really didn't matter. People manipulated. They took. They made those lesser than themselves do things they didn't want to do.

Coy wouldn't be fooled again.

"Coy? Please talk to me."

"Where's my gear?"

"At my house."

"Please bring it to me."

"So you can run again?"

Coy didn't answer. What was the point?

"You weren't camping out there. I know that much. No one camps with just a bag full of clothes and battered sleeping bag.

"What about my laptop?"

"There wasn't a laptop."

"What?" Coy rolled over, astonished to see genuine compassion in Hunter's unusual eyes.

"No laptop."

"You stole my laptop?" Right there, Coy had his answer about what kind of man Hunter really was. Apparently, he could play at being the hero but when push came to shove he was just like everyone else.

"I didn't steal anything." Instead of reacting with anger to the accusation, Hunter kept his calm. "I only looked through your backpack to find out who you are."


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