About Cowboy’s Law
Author: BA Tortuga
Word Count: 59200
Page Count (pdf): 252
Price: $.99 for a limited time
Date Published: 04212020
Publisher: Turtlehat Creatives
Heat Rating: 3 rainbows
File Types available: pdf mobi epub
When rodeo cowboy Seth’s best friend dies unexpectedly from cancer, he finds himself taking on a ranch and a bunch of his friend’s younger siblings, because they have nowhere else to turn. Seth loves those kids like they’re his own, and he settles in well to his new life, which is why he’s pretty wary when his buddy’s older brother finally makes it home from a long stint in the military.
Law knows he might get a chilly reception at his brother Pistol’s old ranch, even if the kids living there are his half-siblings. He didn’t make it to his brother’s funeral, after all, but to his credit, he was blown up trying to come home to do just that. He’s fighting injuries and insecurity, but when Seth welcomes him to the family ranch, Law knows he’s pretty much in love. Even if he thinks Seth was his brother’s lover. Can these two find a way to let their emotions out before tragedy strikes their family again?
“I’m here to see Pistol McMann.” Seth Rodgers stood at the nurses’ station, hat in his hands. God, he hated this shit. He hated the smell of antiseptic that just covered the death, he hated the beeps and boops of the machines, and more than anything he fucking hated the pain and worry that was written on every single person’s face except for the nurses, who seemed like the gate pullers of hurting. Nobody remembered their names, but you couldn’t function without them.
“Ah. Our resident cowboy. I should have known you’d be here for him.” The young man at the desk offered him one of those awful, pitying smiles. “Name?”
“Rodgers. Seth Rodgers. I was riding with him when he fell.” God knew it had been the weirdest thing too. Pistol had been doing good, was reaching for the eight, and he simply–collapsed. Right there on the arena floor.
“Ah. Three-forty.” The kid indicated a hallway, which he chugged down, his feet feeling like lead.
He wasn’t sure what had happened, but Doc said his periodic traveling partner was awake, so he was fixin’ to find out.
The room was a single, and he wasn’t at all surprised to find Pistol in one of them halo deals. Shame, but lots of guys came back from a broken neck.
Hell, Pistol was young enough and good looking enough to work with the announcers, he couldn’t ride anymore. Do autograph sessions.
“Hey, kiddo. How’s it hanging?” He asked when Pistol gave him a squinty eyed, groggy glance.
“Hey.” The kid looked fucked ten ways to Sunday. “You came.”
“Duh. Course I did.” He held his hat in his hands. “Ain’t we friends?”
Pistol would have nodded, he thought, because that grimace said he was fighting to move. “Thanks, Seth.”
“You mind if I sit?” He hated feeling like someone was standing there staring at him, and he’d been the one in the bed a lot.
“Sure. It hurts to look at you.”
“Well, I know I’m ugly…” He pulled over a chair.
“Butt ugly.” The kid started laughing, and Seth made it a point to ignore the tears that were streaming down his face. “I’m hurt bad, buddy. Real bad.”
“You can move your hands, huh? I saw you.”
“I can wiggle my toes too, but that don’t mean nothin’.” Pistol sighed. “I don’t know what to do.”
“About what? You know I’m here for you, man?” He leaned forward, stretching out his lower back. “How can I help?”
“It’s cancer. In my bones. My neck just…some of the bones just dissolved.”
“What?” No. No fucking way. Pistol was twenty fucking years old, taking care of his five brothers and sisters after his momma and stepdad got themselves killed. Cancer was a filthy bitch, and no one Pistol’s age needed that.
“Yeah. I been hurting some in my chest, and I was gonna come in and get tests.” Pistol’s voice dropped to a whisper. “I had it before. When I was a kid. I was in remission a long time.”
“Fuck. Okay. What do you need?” Where the fuck were they? Yuma? Pistol’s people were up in the east mountains, near him. “You want me to take you closer to home?”
“I don’t know if I can get there.” Pistol stared him right in the eye. “They’ll take my brothers and sisters and split them up.”
“No, buddy. We’ve talked on this. I’ll see to the kids until you’re back on your feet.”
“You’re not hearing me, Seth. There’s no going home for me.”
He shook his head. No. No fucking way. Pistol was a baby. And his best friend, truth be told, which Seth reckoned was sad for a cowboy his age…
“Seth. Promise me.” Pistol took a deep breath and something rattled. “Tell me you’ll take care of them. Law won’t do it. He’s overseas, and he never did want to take care of us.”
He’d heard a lot about Pistol’s older brother, who’d stayed with Dad when Mom married and started her second family. Not a lot of it made him think the elder McMann could handle the lot of kids. “You know I will, buddy, but you can’t give up. You can’t.”
“There’s a lawyer coming. I got my will. I need you to sign some papers with me. I need this, man. The kids need you.”
“Seth.” That voice cracked like the kid’s name. “I’ll do my best to make it until the older kids can see me, but I’m sinking. I ain’t gonna lie and you ain’t either. That ain’t the cowboy way.”
“No. Okay. I’ll sign.” He wasn’t ashamed, but Pistol was right. He needed to cowboy up, because Pistol sure thought he was a goner.
“Thank you. I got money, and there’s college funds for all them from when Momma and Dean passed.”
“Shh. Don’t stress it. I’ll sign whatever and talk to the doctor about getting you home.” God, how was he going to do this? How was he going to get Pistol back to New Mexico?
“Okay.” Pistol closed his eyes. “You’re the best, Seth. The best friend a man could have.”
“I try, buddy. You just rest. Want me to read to you?” Pistol loved to read, but hated TV and such unlike most kids his age.
“No. Just talk to me, huh? Tell me–I don’t know. Tell me that cowboys go to Heaven.”
“Shit. Heaven was made by a cowboy.” Pistol was breaking his heart. “The horses run wild, there ain’t no fences, and the green chile stew pot’s never empty.”
“Yeah. I do love me some green chile stew. My momma’s was so good. She’s gonna make it for me again, I have faith.”
“With homemade tortillas, buddy.” Seth rambled, the tiny smile on Pistol’s lips worth the sore throat he was earning.
There was no way this kid who was riding J354 this afternoon was dying. Pistol had been rookie of the year the same finals Seth had won his third championship. He was the asshole who was long in the tooth, not Pistol. Pistol was the rising motherfucking star.
When Pistol nodded off, he went to find someone he could talk to. The doc could tell him what to do about getting Pistol home now, couldn’t he?
Someone fucking would. He wasn’t going to be the one that headed home to tell those babies they had to weather another loss.
Pistol had to be wrong. God wouldn’t do this to them all. No way.
It was wrong, and dammit, it wouldn’t happen. Those little ones wouldn’t lose their big brother if he had anything to do with it.