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Authors: RJ Scott

Texas Fall

BOOK: Texas Fall
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Texas Fall

Texas, Book 6

RJ Scott

First edition, copyright 2014 by RJ Scott

Smashwords Edition

Cover design by Meredith Russell

Edited by Erika Orrick

Published by Love Lane Books Limited

All Rights Reserved

This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction,
in whole or in part, without express written permission. This book cannot be
copied in any format, sold, or otherwise transferred from your computer to
another through upload to a file sharing peer to peer program, for free or for
a fee. Such action is illegal and in violation of Copyright Law.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

All trademarks are the property of their respective
owners.

Dedication

For Phil who probably never imagined it would go to
this.

And always for my family.

Chapter 1

Jack had a soft beer buzz
going, and he was with his horses. The only thing that could make things better
was if Riley was with him, but he wasn’t going to pull Riley out of the party
just to keep Jack company. On the other hand, he wasn’t moving inside any time
soon. He had enough finger food to last him a few days wrapped in a napkin, and
he didn’t need to go back in unless there was some kind of natural disaster.
Parties and Jack Campbell-Hayes did not mix; even New Year’s was something he
avoided. Not that he was introverted, it was just the whole entire family was
here—every single one of them—and they all wanted to talk to him about one
thing or another. When Max had decided it was too chaotic and disappeared with
Carol into his sensory room, Jack had wanted to go as well.

“You can’t hide the whole
night,” Riley said from behind him. Jack turned to face his husband, leaning
back against the stable door and waiting for the lecture. Riley was happy as a
pig in shit right in the middle of it all: juggling babies, catering,
socializing, and hell, everything that Jack was avoiding right about now.
“People asked where you were,” Riley added.

Riley sure looked good
tonight, his blond hair just this side of bed-head spiky, his long legs in black
pants, the dark green shirt so perfect against his warm skin tones, and his
hazel eyes sparkling with enthusiasm for life. Sexy. Very sexy, all toned and
slim and hard and hot. Jack cleared the thoughts of kissing the life out of
Riley from his head. He’d need all his faculties to deal with Riley when he
knew damn well Riley wanted him to go back inside and host the party.

Anyway, he was suspicious
that anyone really worried where he’d gone. “Who asked?”

Riley stepped right up
into his space, close enough so that Jack could inhale the scent of his man. The
combination of familiar citrus was underscored by deeper notes of mulled spices
from the kitchen and some punch concoction Eden had made.

“Actually, no one asked,”
Riley admitted. “Josh mentioned that he was impressed you’d lasted an hour.”

Jack huffed a laugh. He
was surprised his brother hadn’t come out and hidden right next to him. Seemed
that enjoying socializing skipped the male Campbell line entirely.

“So,” Jack began slowly.
“What are you doing out here?”

Riley placed his hands on
Jack’s hips, then slid his fingers through belt loops to tug Jack away from the
door and flush up to him.

“I was asking myself,” he
explained, “just where would my husband be when it’s only ten at night and he
was looking for peace. I tried everywhere.” He pressed a gentle kiss to Jack’s
lips, then smiled down at him, that few inches in height he had just enough to
force Jack to lean his head back a little. “Actually that’s a lie. I looked in
the twins’ room, checked in on Max, then came here.”

“Is Max okay?”

“Carol is keeping an eye
on him. He doesn’t get why all these people are here and it’s all a bit much
for him, but he’s okay.”

“And the twins? Did Connor
still look restless?”

“Connor was fast asleep.”

“And what about Lexie—”

“Lexie was sleeping too, so
I came out here and I found you.”

Jack twisted his fingers
together behind Riley’s head and brushed his erection against Riley’s. It
didn’t seem like they were in each other’s company more than ten seconds and
Jack was already turned on. Thank God Riley appeared to have the same problem.

“What we gonna do?” Jack
asked. He had plenty of ideas, the best of which involved rope and the barn and
a whole lot of lube.

Riley slanted his head and
kissed Jack thoroughly, never taking his hands from Jack’s belt and never
moving. When they separated for air, Riley was smirking. Jack knew exactly what
his husband was going to say. He wanted him back inside in that hell called the
New Year’s Eve party.

“No,” Jack protested
immediately.

“Two hours, Jack, just two
hours. Go in, be all kinds of sociable, and as soon as the clock strikes twelve,
you can come back out.”

“Riley—”

Riley silenced Jack with a
finger pressed to his lips. He leaned close and whispered, “Two hours is all,
Jack, you can manage that, and if you’re a good boy…” Jack couldn’t hold back
the laugh at that point as Riley waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“What do you plan on doing
as my reward?”

Riley leaned in for one
last kiss, then turned smartly on his heel.

“For you to find out,” he
threw over his shoulder. “You have five.”

Jack turned back to pet
Solo Cal, who butted him and whuffed on his hand.

“God save me from being
sociable,” Robbie muttered as he joined Jack at the stable almost as soon as
Riley disappeared. “If I have to dance once more…” His tone threatened payback,
and Jack imagined Eli was still hogging the small dance area that everyone had
made in the marquee off the kitchen, with little more than a few tables pushed
to one side. Eli and Riley, along with Marcus, Eden, and Hayley, had been
dancing like they were on uppers.

“You bring beer?” Jack
asked.

Robbie handed over a cold
one and gestured to the three more under his arm. “Thought I’d drag these ones
out.”

“I’ve already had Riley
out here telling me I should be inside. I give it five before Eli does the same
to you.”

Robbie muttered something
under his breath that sounded suspiciously like a string of curse words along
with Eli’s name. He held out his hand to Solo Cal and received the same chuff
of attention that Jack had. Jack’s horses loved Robbie, the quiet man with the
strange mix of Aussie and American in his accent. The day Jack’d taken him on
had been a good one and now that Robbie had Eli, his staying was permanent. In
fact, he had a stake in the D’s horse training and breeding program. Jack
couldn’t wish for a better right-hand man.

As Jack could have
predicted, another cowboy soon appeared at their side.

“Jesus Christ,” Liam
cursed and joined them in the stable. Without words, Robbie gave him a beer,
and Liam downed half of the bottle in long swallows. Only then did he talk. “Tell
me again where Marcus gets all his damn energy?”

Jack shrugged. “Same place
as Riley and Eli, it seems.”

“Cowboys shouldn’t be
indoors,” Liam pointed out. “Ain’t natural.”

“It’s not natural,” Robbie
corrected.

“That’s what I said,” Liam
agreed.

Jack glanced over at the
latest addition to the D. Liam was still looking a bit on the thin side, and he
had perpetual worry written into his expression. Didn’t matter that he had a
boyfriend and that he and Marcus were close. He hadn’t truly found his peace
yet and still held the anxiety from the attack in the barn heavy on his
shoulders.

It didn’t help that the
mail between Christmas and New Year’s had held a letter with a court appearance
date. Twenty-sixth of January was the day Liam would be facing his attacker. Didn’t
matter that Yuri Fensin had admitted his part in the attack, this was wider
than that. Liam had passed enough evidence to have Hank Castille in the dock as
well for the abuse Liam had suffered at the man’s hand when he was younger. A
lot hinged on Liam’s testimony and that of a couple other witnesses, all boys
as young as Liam or younger.

So yeah, the weight of it
was on Liam, and he looked tired. He was still working long days, putting in
his hours, making a home with Marcus in the apartment over the barn. Of the
three of them standing there, he was the one who didn’t need to be in a place
where people danced and expected a body to be smiling all the time. He needed
something else.

“Liam,” Marcus said from
the door. Jack sighed inwardly. His quiet place was getting busier than the
party. “You okay?”

Liam turned to face Marcus,
and Jack couldn’t help but see the shine of emotion in Liam’s eyes or the
serious expression on Marcus’s face.

“Thinking Liam and you
should have your own New Year’s,” Robbie suggested.

Marcus nodded and held out
a hand that Liam took. “Is that okay, Jack?”

Jack frowned. What did it
have to do with him? Never mind Marcus was looking for his permission and Liam
really needed the support. “Get off before Riley catches you,” he joked. Liam
and Marcus left quickly. Now there was only the two of them left—and Jack’s
five minutes were up.

“Keep my fence warm,” he
muttered. After knocking shoulders with Robbie, he went indoors and into the
chaos that was a family celebration. He’d done worse. Once he’d spent fourteen
hours with a pregnant mare in distress. He could do this.

 

* * * * *

 

Riley wasn’t exactly
watching for Jack. Not really. It just happened that whenever Jack walked into
a room, Riley was aware of exactly when it happened. Somehow he always looked
over at the moment Jack was looking for him. Time stopped for a second, One
Direction faded into the background, as did Hayley’s laughter with her cousins
and Eli and Eden twirling in some mad parody of a tango; everything faded.

Every single damn time
Riley looked at Jack, his heart hitched and emotion choked him.

Mine. I love him and he’s
mine, and he’s the other half of me, and everything.
Yeah, it didn’t make much sense, this overwhelming surge of ownership, of
affection and need, but it was all it took for Riley to cross over and steal a
heated kiss right there in front of the entire family. When he pulled back,
Jack was smirking that infuriating laconic cowboy smile and his blue eyes shone
with emotion. Dressed from head to toe in black, pants, matching shirt shot
through with silver, and that Texas belt buckle, he was edible and
all Riley’s
.

“You missed me?” Jack
teased.

“No,” Riley said. “Just
warming up for midnight. Let’s get beer.”

A party tent off the side
of the kitchen extended the house for this get-together with God knows how many
family and friends milling around. Riley knew his mom and dad were in there
somewhere, clapping along to Hayley’s dancing, which in itself was a miracle.
Sandra Hayes was the last person Riley ever imagined would clap along to
anything. But where her granddaughter was concerned, all the Southern genteel
charm was put to bed and instead out came the mad-eyed grandma who loved her
grandchildren. She’d never have the natural warmth that Donna exuded, but she
was trying hard and she had a special connection to Hayley that Riley loved to
watch.

The two men picked up
beer, or rather, Jack did; Riley still had a cold fear about what would happen
if they both got drunk. Although Jack didn’t ordinarily get drunk and neither
did Riley, he wanted one of them to be entirely sober in case the twins needed
them, or Max or Hayley. He opened a can of Sprite, and the icy-cold bubbles
felt good on his tongue. He finished it off as he joined in with a heated
debate about whether Brad was hotter than Angelina. Jack wandered off again,
but this time it was just to stand with his brother and sister-in-law and their
kids.

Logan was growing up, and
he was looking an awful lot like his Uncle Jack. With the requisite floppy hair
over one eye, he was a good-looking kid, and Riley couldn’t fail to notice
Hayley looking over at Logan every so often. She still had that crush on her
cousin, but Logan was three years older and headed for college in a year or so.
Riley didn’t like to admit it, but he hoped to hell Hayley got over it. Not
because he didn’t like Logan, Logan was a good kid, but Riley just wasn’t ready
for Hayley to be dating anyone, let alone her kind-of-cousin.

“You look awfully serious,
big brother.” Eden smiled up at him, and he pulled her into his side. Sean
wasn’t there that night, but Eden didn’t seem too fazed by that. The couple had
moved to a better place slowly but surely, and although Riley still had a few
small reservations over Sean, he could see his sister was happy. For that Sean
got a million brownie points.

“Just counting my
blessings,” Riley answered. She cuddled in close and wrapped her arms around
his waist, and Riley didn’t want to let her go. He had to eventually,
especially when she wriggled, which was the only way she could get out of one
of her brother’s bear hugs. She looked well, happy, her little black dress and
strappy heels both covered in soft glitter. Riley glanced down at himself and
the smattering of glitter he now had on his shirt.

“Your fault,” she said, and
with a grin, she left.

He didn’t have time to
think about how he was going to remove the glitter when Hayley ran to him and
clung to him, asking him to go with her. He opened his mouth to ask what was
wrong, but he could see the emotion in his daughter’s eyes. She was close to
crying, and as soon as he followed her into the good room, those tears began to
fall. Riley sat on the sofa and pulled her into his arms. She was such an itty-bitty
thing, and she needed a hug. She held him so tight and she was sobbing, her
slim form shaking in his hold. Riley’s heart split in two.

“What happened, sweetie?”
he asked when her crying had settled to a few hitched breaths.

BOOK: Texas Fall
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