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Dusty and Jamaal

This country boy is a challenge. A sweet simmering gorgeous challenge that I'm more than ready for..

Note: This short occurs when Dusty and Jamaal first meet. Please excuse any errors. this short is unedited. Also these boys had a lot to say so this is just the first part. Part 2 and 3 coming soon!


There are men in Chicago. Plenty of men. Plenty of cute men. And way too many snarky men who thought they are Gods’ gift to gay men everywhere. Plenty of cute snarky gay men with red hair freckles and lips that begged to be kissed…

And that’s where things go sideways. Because there might be cute men in Chicago like that: red hair, with smoldering green eyes with a heat that could burn you through and through, and so many damn freckles it should be illegal in this state and all adjourning states, but I haven’t found one—not even one—with all of those qualities or any of those qualities who has also just turned me down flat. “You can’t spare a moment of your packed schedule for a cup of coffee?”

“I told you, I’m busy.”

All I can do is stare at him, speechless.

I am in a speck, of a speck, of a small town that has all the small-town irritations—like meddling busybodies—I try to ignore the woman in the blue dress glaring my way—and none of the appeal. I’ve been told by countless countless Hallmark movies that small towns have charm. So they must have something to recommend them. Right? Whatever. This one clearly does not. But it does have the first man in my twenty-five years on this earth to turn me down.

Evidently that means I have to have him. I blame my brother for my competitive side. In this instance it will probably not serve me well.

“Busy?” I ask, waving a hand at his skinny jeans and long-sleeved gray T-shirt—but it’s the casual way he’s wearing it that gets to me. “Doing what? Throwing hay around or doing…something with livestock?” Ugh. He has somehow fried my brain. Poor choice of words. My eyes rush to Zachary’s sister who woke up after two weeks in a coma. Thank goodness the words didn’t leave my mouth. But she seems happy. And I’m glad for her and for my sweet cute-in-a-way-that’s-nice-to-look-at-but-not-for-me boss. He’s laughing at something Lissa says, but his eyes are stuck on Oliver. His man. Can love really do that? Break through walls so thick it would require a sledgehammer or a jackhammer or maybe just an Oliver-sized-hammer to get through? I swallow that small—very, very, tiny want-that-in-my-life string of need that threads its way through my body, and force my eyes back to the man in front of me. He watches me with a slow-burning fire in his eyes and a lazy smile on his face.

“I’m giving JoJo a bath,” he says, and I wonder if he’s exaggerating that country twang for my benefit.

“Your pig?” I guess.

He bites his lip. “You are not as cute as you think you are.” Apparently, proving this requires him to slowly—did he do everything slowly? Holy hell—examine me from the tips of my Jimmy Choos to the top of my carefully styled hair. And he does it in a way that is equally dismissive and scorching. Who is this man? He stops at my eyes, and I get lost in a pool of green. The color—Jade? No brighter like a well-tended lawn or the rolling hills just west of this town. He lifts a blondish-red eyebrow. “No comment?”

My mouth is suddenly too dry. I look around for my flavored-water and take a long drink. His eyes seem to follow my every movement, and I lick my lips—because still dry—and his eyes settle on them as if he has all night. “Yes, I am.” My response to his statement that I’m not cute is extremely inadequate for the situation, but he laughs, and my slight embarrassment is worth seeing the joy that lights up his entire face.

He slides over until he’s pressed against my side and leaning in, so only I can hear his words. Not that anyone can hear us above the noise of the party. Not that anyone is even paying attention to us—not counting the woman in the blue dress. What’s her deal anyway? But my mind has no room for those thoughts because he’s occupying every inch of space with his simmering heat, his clean country-boy scent, and his gravely words. “Yes, you definitely are.”

I need to get this—whatever this is—back on track. This man has derailed me—so much so that I am now making train references. I snap at my brain to get it together. “Have coffee with me then,” I say, trying to keep my voice light. “After you bathe your…animal?” The word tips up in question because I still don’t know why I’m being ditched.

He tilts his head and I follow, distracted by those freckles and wondering how many he has. They’d be impossible to count. Not only because there are so many but because some are clumped together in a way that would defy any efforts to be calculated. But I could make a good go of it. I work in accounting. I’m part of the accounting department of Grisham Milling. I’m the personal assistant—I do not go by secretary—for Zachary Coleman. So while I’m not an accountant myself, I’m proficient at things like…counting. How does this man turn my mind to mush?

“Animal? JoJo could be my child.”

“Is she? He? They?”

“JoJo uses she/her pronouns. Although honestly, she’ll answer to anything—including, hey dumbass—get that horrified look off your face, gorgeous. JoJo is my baby–”

“Baby?” I squeak. Eloquent, Jamaal. Very eloquent.

He grins and pulls his phone from his back pocket. The love shining through his expression eclipses everything, and I feel a tinge of jealousy. He holds up his phone to show me. On the screen is a picture of a dog. A cute dog. But still, a dog.

“JoJo is my border collie,” he says unnecessarily, as he jams his phone back into his pocket. But the words are woven with so much affection, it tugs on my heart. And I never let things tug on my heart. The smart move at this point would be to continue my stroll around the small space Zachary’s sister calls a living room and forget about this man. The room is crowded with guests. If I want a hot guy—but that’s where it all breaks down again. I’m willing to bet there aren’t a lot of gay men in the small town of Clarkston, Missouri. And any that are here, probably aren’t out—not a deal breaker. And they’re probably riddled with self-loathing—again, not a deal breaker. I don’t do drama if I can help it, but angry sex can be very cathartic. My eyes drift back to Dusty. Unfortunately I’m not in the mood for angry sex or any other type of hookup. I’m in the mood for sweet and slow and appreciative. The air around us sparks as Dusty moves to face me—still close—his gaze…his intent back on me.

“Here’s the deal tall, dark, and steamy—I like you.” Another of those slow perusals, and I bite back the needy sounds jamming in my throat and threatening to come out. My body, already heated by the green flames licking at the edges of my sanity, has bumped up from simmering mess to reckless wildfire. His eyes drag and then stop at the obvious interest I can’t hide in my designer jeans. “Fuck,” he says, his voice going from rough to guttural, and burning through the last tendrils of my resolve.  “I like you way too much. But I think you need to get off that horse you’re on—”

“Horse?” Am I hearing him clearly or is my brain stuck. Why are we talking about livestock, again?

“The high horse. Like you are better than everyone else here.”

My face heats up and my body cools down. I’m glad my dark complexion hides my blush. “This is just my face,” I say tucking the back of my hand under my chin in an innocent-I’m-just-me gesture.

“So you don’t think you’re better than everyone here—and by everyone, I mean everyone from this town?”

“No, Dusty,” I say, shaking my head and hoping he believes me. “I don’t think I’m better than everyone.” Some days I don’t think I’m better than anyone. But I don’t say those words aloud. I never say those words aloud. Or let anyone get close enough to even suspect them. My brother runs our family’s multimillion dollar company. I’m a receptionist. I push my father’s voice out of my head. There is a time and a place for them. Which is never. And no place I want to be.

“Admit it. You look down on country folk.”

“I might look down on anyone using the word folk in a way that doesn’t include banjos.”

His simmering gaze turns hard. “Do you know what I hate about city folk?”

It’s clear from the icy-green of his eyes, I’ve offended him. I resist the urge to beg him for forgiveness. I do not beg. Well—under certain circumstances I might. I tip my chin up. “Everything?” I guess.

“Not…everything. But I especially hate that they think because they live in a sardine can of a city where you can’t spread your legs without bumping into someone else, instead of wide-open spaces, clean air, all the things nature has to offer—including so many stars you wouldn’t believe it, that they have a monopoly on everything from intelligence to beauty—even when it’s practically staring you in the face, but you’re too uppity to see it.”

“City folk are too uppity, you mean. Or are you talking specifically about me?”

“I don’t know Jay—”

“Jamaal,” I say, correcting him but by the glint in his eyes, I can tell he remembers my name.

“Jamaal,” he repeats spreading my name out like—like—like I want him to spread me. Slow, and touching every syllable with purpose. Dear God, I’m seriously burning up in here. What is wrong with me? His eyes are still hard but there’s a flicker of something hot. “Are you too stuck in your city ways to see—to enjoy—the beauty of the country?”

His words ignite something in me. Yes, I’m competitive and I love a good challenge. Boredom is worse than sadness or anger or any other emotion I could list. And maybe that’s why I usually settle for hookups. I hate being bored but someone seeing me—the real me—and finding me lacking is even worse. And I especially don’t want to be found lacking in Dusty’s eyes.

I bite my lip and give him my most flirtatious smile. “I’ll admit to being a city boy and enjoying my comforts, but I can see the allure…the beauty of the country just fine—” I let my eyes take him in from his cowboy boots to his t-shirt shirt that fits in all the right places—I do love hard-earned muscles on a man—to his reddish blond hair that had that aww-shucks-ma’am appeal. “And yes, puuulease to enjoying all that beauty…of the country, of course.”

He’s a little less put together as he swallows hard. “Just to be clear, I’m not taking about sex. I’m talking about getting dirty…”

“But not about sex?” I tease, finally feeling like I have the upper hand. or any hand, in this conversation.

“No. I mean, at some point I’d like—” He shakes his head. “This is about you experiencing the country in whatever way I want—and for the love of God get that look off your face. I’m talking mud and animals and nature. Got it? And then maybe…” He trails off, the meaning hanging there for me to figure out: Coffee? Dinner? Hot cowboy sex?

“And then?” I prompt because I desperately need the answer.

“Maybe. Just maybe I’ll let you kiss me.” His words are light, but a blush starts at his neck and spreads up and over his face, burning through each freckle until they’re all connected.

And that’s the moment I know I have him. This boy is mine. But the scarier part of that equation? The thought that I might also belong to him. And I’m not sure where that crazy thought comes from since serious is not something I do. And even if I did, we live over three hundred miles from each other. In different places. In different worlds.

But for once, my mind isn’t screaming at the thought. It’s whimpering like a scared little bitch, but I ignore it.

Wiping the smirk off my face—just for the moment—so he can see I’m serious, I say, “I’m in. Do whatever you want, Dusty. I’m ready to experience the country with you.”

His surprised, and surprisingly vulnerable, look changes to calculating in an instant, and I’m honesty a little afraid. But nothing could stop me from doing this. I’ve never wanted anything or anyone as much.

And that’s the most terrifying thing of all.

He grins and my heart does a little dance.

Yes, there are plenty of men in Chicago.

But none of them are Dusty Walden.



“Do you want to change your shoes?” I’m enjoying this way too much. City boys are my weakness. This clueless city boy who thinks he knows everything? Possibly, my downfall.

“And change into what?” Jamaal asks, eyeing my boots with scorn.

“Shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty…or ruined.” I whisper the last part under my breath. That’s enough warning, right?”

He plants his hands on his hips and raises a gorgeously sculpted eyebrow. “Why would I own shoes I don’t care about?”

“So you can—” I wasn’t sure what to say. “Have fun? Get dirty?” I let my eyes roam over his gorgeous dark skin and toned body that I want to ride like the cowboy he thinks I am.

“I have fun. It doesn’t involve getting—” He bites the inside of his cheek as if he’s rethinking his word choice. “Muddy.”

The scent of his expensive cologne draws me in, and I lean into his space. There are perks to having money, like smelling so damn good. But the other thing that smells good? Sweat. And that’s one of my goals—I have many when it comes to this man—make Jamaal sweat. He’s cool, surrounded by layers of ice. Is perspiration even a possibility? Good lord almighty I need to focus. “Would you like to borrow some shoes and maybe some clothes, Jay?”

“Jamaal,” he says narrowing those gorgeous dark eyes at me. “And no.”

I shrug, trailing my hand over his sweater. It’s soft like the silky coat of a newborn calf. “Suit yourself. Hope this…” I pull his sweater away from his chest and let the back of my fingers graze against his firm abs. Oh, lordy. This man is hotter than the noonday son in the middle of summer. “…didn’t cost much,” I finally finish.

“Dusty…” His look is pleading, and I realize this is unusual for him.

“What gorgeous? Spit it out.”

He lifts his chin and glances away. We’re at the farm, standing on the front porch of the house I share with my parents. They need me to help with the farm, so it doesn’t make sense for me to live elsewhere. “Isn’t there anything we can do that won’t destroy my clothes?”

I place my hands on his shoulders to grab his attention and run them slowly down and over his arms, giving a little squeeze in places. Muscled places. I look up to catch his eyes. He’s just a bit taller than me. “Where’s the fun in that?”

His expression doesn’t change but he touches my face with those long fingers and slides them into my hair. “I’m very imaginative,” he whispers, his breath catching my skin on fire. The spark has been there since the moment we met. Now he’s just stoking the flames. He moves down my neck, teasing me with his breath. “I can think of plenty to do.”

I give him my most innocent look. “And not get dirty?”

His mouth opens and then he grins. It gives his face a wolf-like quality. Jamaal is unlike anyone I’ve ever met. “You love stirring things up, don’t you?”

“I do,” I admit. Then I turn serious. “But I don’t have time for elitist assholes. And I’ve met plenty of them. Are you better dressed than me? More expensively, that’s for darn sure. Are you a better person than me? Sometimes, maybe. But not all the time. And not at everything. Are you richer than me? I’m sure you think that answer is yes.”

A shift in his eyes—God I hope that isn’t pity because I will hogtie this man and not in the fun way. And hell yes, there’s a fun way. “Someone hurt you,” he finally says.

“Nope. You’re refusing to get dirty with me. So, no. You are not entitled to that information, mister.”

“Am I entitled to anything before jumping in to ruin my clothes and my five-hundred-dollar shoes?”

I tap my finger against my lips. It helps me think and draws his attention right where I want it. “A kiss. For incentive.”

His eyes darken to the color of the night sky and the promise in them has me wanting to give in and take him over the tire of our John Deere tractor. He leans in with a smirk, and I place my finger over his lips to stop him. “On the cheek.”

I turn my face trying to hide my grin. What will he do? Ignore me? Or walk away in a huff?

He does neither of those things. Jamaal wraps his hand in my hair again and pulls me close. When his lips are an inch away, he stops and holds my attention until I’m aching for that kiss. God. I almost drag him against me, but I have my pride. And willpower. Barely. Then he tilts my head and brushes his lips against my cheek. The kiss is soft and lingering, and I want so much more.

Then he pulls away and drops his hands. “You said you had some clothes I could wear?”

We go up to my room which seems dangerous, but I like living on the edge apparently. I grab some clothes for him, and before I can point to the bathroom or leave, he strips his sweater off and lovingly folds it. This gives me time to look at him. He’s beautiful. Elegant. And the way he takes care of this sweater—his things—so careful and thoughtful and…ugh. It’s making me want more than a tussle in the hay. But those thoughts disappear with his skin as he pulls on my long sleeve t-shirt. It’s pink. Because I’m me. And he looks stunning in it. Not sure I can ever wear it again without remembering this moment and how my shirt hugs fondly to his body. My clothes don’t fit him, and I am not one dang bit sad about that. He rolls up the sleeves and when he moves to change his shoes, a sliver of delicious skin is exposed on his side. His back. His stomach. That’s when I realize the joggers I gave him are on the bed.

“Did you forget these?”

“I’ll wear my jeans.”

I don’t question his decision. “I like a man who lives on the edge.”

He ignores me, putting the boots on. Then he stands up and holds out his hands. “Well?”

“You’ll do,” I say. You’ll do just fine. I add silently.

My shoes fit him. Not perfectly but not terribly either. They’re an old pair of cowboy boots and God I wish I could take a picture. I pull my phone out of my back pocket, trying to be sneaky but he grabs me, and I love the way his fingers curl around my wrist.


“No, what?” I ask innocently.

“You are not taking a picture.”

“Come on doll you look amazing.”

“I am not your doll.” With a final haughty look he swooshes out of the room.

“Pity,” I say low enough he doesn’t hear.

He’s waiting on the front porch when I make it outside. His eyes scan the area from the barn to the field with cattle to the pond. “What do you have planned?”

“Would you like choices?”

“Yes,” he says sounding relieved.

“We could ride horses.”


I grin. “Are you afraid?”

“No.” But it’s said a little too quickly.

“Hayrides are romantic,” I suggest.

“Are there other people involved?”

And the words I hear are other “country” people because there are lots of people in Chicago. “Yes.”

“Maybe later,” he says, waving his hand around.

“Corn maze?”

He crosses his arms and stares at me, and it’s not cute at all. “Mazes made of corn? Those are creepier than horses.”

“Oh, my god. Stop.” I grab his arm and pull him toward the barn. He resists at first but then lets me pull him along. Inside I guide him to a stall where my mare Ginger is waiting for me. I lose Jamaal part of the way, but I can’t let my girl down so I stroke her muzzle. “Hey sweetie. You been waiting for me?” She whinnies and I grin at her. Her eyes catch movement behind me. “Don’t worry about him,” I whisper, “That’s Jamaal. He’s okay. I guess.” She shakes her mane and whinnies again. I nuzzle against her and kiss the side of her face.

“She’s sweet.” He still sounds nervous but at least he’s not running for the door.

“Come here,” I say crooking my finger at him.

A shake of his head is his only response. Taking his hand, I ignore the tingles I get from touching him—and try not to think of touching him all over. I pull him closer and together we stroke Gingers side. “See?” I say softly against his neck. “It’s not so bad.”

He touches her mane and then gets brave enough to stroke her nose. “Hey, girl,” he says gently, and his velvet voice does things to me.

He helps me feed the horses—we only have a few—and give them fresh hay. I don’t have him clean the stalls. That doesn’t seem like it would lead to a second…whatever this is.

Afterward, we walk around outside and I point out things to him. “And these are my kids,” I say, pointing to an area on the other side of the barn.

“What?” He’s so cute all confused.

“Baby goats. Kids.” The goats are as cute as can be and even Jamaal smiles at their antics. Taking his hand, I lead him down to the pond. Mostly because it’s beautiful with the sun shining on it and the ducks playing. The snow we got days ago has melted and this close to the pond the ground is softer.

Then the main reason I’ve pushed him to change his clothes shows up. JoJo.

“Hold on,” I say to the dog and the hot guy next to me. I have both hands up one held out to each of them. I catch JoJo’s eyes. Because honestly, she’s the one most likely to ignore my commands.

Her eyes are full of excitement and her tongue hangs out as she inspects Jamaal. There’s no movement so I turn around. Jamaal is staring at my dog like she’s dangerous.

“Are you afraid of every animal on the planet?”

‘No,” he says with a little huff. “Kittens are nice. Except when they scratch you.”

“JoJo is a sweetheart.” I crouch down and take JoJo’s face in my hands. “You’re a good puppy, aren’t you?” Even though she isn’t a puppy anymore. Her brown eyes watch me adoringly, glancing over at Jamaal now and then like she’s excited to meet my new friend. JoJo licks my face enthusiastically. “See?”

“I see.”

“Why don’t you see from over here? I’ll protect you.”

He puts his hands on his hips and rolls his eyes. “I do not need protection.”

JoJo takes that as the invitation it isn’t and darts around me to get to her new friend. She jumps on Jamaal knocking him over in her exuberance. Which wouldn’t be a problem except Jamaal tries to get away and falls right in a patch of mud. I hear the squish as he falls. JoJo doesn’t care. She jumps on top of him getting muddy paw prints everywhere. I grab for my dog trying to pull her off. Jamaal rolls back and forth to get away from JoJo’s tongue and only manages to spread the mud everywhere.

I whistle through my teeth and JoJo immediately jumps off and looks at me. “Go!” I say pointing toward the house. She tilts her head like I’m not making a lick of sense. I point again, giving her the command. JoJo hangs her head, not sure what she did wrong, and then takes off for the house.

“Jamaal, man, I am so sorry,” I say wondering if this is the thing that scares him away. His arms cover his face and he’s shaking. Did JoJo scare him that much?

“Oh, my god,” he gasps and I realize he’s laughing, not crying. Thank fuck. I reach down to help him up and predictably—at least I should have seen it coming—he drags me down into the mud. Only, unlike Jamaal, this isn’t my first rodeo.

I fall half-way on and half-way off him and I fix that error real quick. I cover his muddy body with mine. “Is this what you wanted? To get me alone in a mud pit?”

“No,” he laughs. “Definitely not.” And then before I can pull off him, he’s wrapping his arms around me, getting mud all over us both. “But I’ll take it.”

The day’s warm for December but I know we’ll have to movie soon. I don’t want to risk him getting sick. But the way he’s holding me and touching my face I’m not sure I have enough energy or working brain cells to care. “We should get cleaned up.”

“Kiss me first.”

I grin. “Here? In the mud?”

“Here, Dusty. In the mud.”

I nip his chin and he tightens his hold on me. “How can you still look so gorgeous covered in mud?” I kiss his forehead right above that beautifully sculpted brow. And then I jump up before he can stop me. “Come on then.”

I lead him to the mud room, and he laughs when I call it that. We clean up in there as best we can, but at least we won’t trail clumps of mud through the house. Before I can lead him to the bathroom so he can get the rest of the mud off, he takes my hand to stop me. “Did I pass the first test?”

I tap my finger against my mouth seeming to consider it, and he grabs that hand too. “I guess you passed,” I say.

“Do I get my reward?” His eyes drift down to my mouth, and I bite my lips to keep from attacking him right then.

“Don’t you want to clean this mud off first?”

He traces a patch of dried mud on my face. “I’ve changed my mind,” he says, his voice low and rough like the growl of a cougar about to pounce.

“About getting cleaned up?”

“About getting dirty. I like the idea.”

“Oh,” I say swallowing the lump in my throat.

“Mud looks good on you, Dusty.”

“It does?”

He cups my face in his hands and leans closer. “Yes. But the real reason is…I can’t wait another twenty or thirty minutes to kiss you.” He lets out a ragged breath. “I don’t think I can wait another twenty seconds.”

My heart pounds as the need to feel his lips on mine is an actual ache throughout my body. I open my mouth in anticipation, wanting more than a brush of his lips against mine. I need so much more. He slots our lips together in a kiss that ends with him tugging on my bottom lip as he pulls away. I can’t stop the whine in my throat. When he kisses me again, he’s more sure, insistent. His kisses are determined and warm—like he’s taking care of me, and I wonder for a second what it would be like for Jamaal to let go. To kiss me wildly and passionately.

His tongue teases the inside of my mouth making me want so much more. And then, after a few more ground-shattering kisses, he leans back with a satisfied—albeit—slightly stunned look on his face.

I now have a new goal.

Kiss Jamaal so thoroughly, he loses control.

Part 2 and 3 coming soon!