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“Havin’ a good time with that there Double O calf, are you?”
Cal looked up. The guy wasn’t much older than he was. Some sort of half breed, but on him it looked good. Probably some Mexican in him. But not all that much, just enough to give him sultry dark looks, deep-tanned skin, more than the sun alone would do and more uniform too, and black, curly hair. Maybe a day’s growth on his chin. Steel gray eyes. The eyes looked more amused than threatening now, but a rifle was being held loosely across his body, at the ready.
Cal looked over to the mule where his own rifle was holstered. Not a chance of making it there.
“As you can see, the calf slipped down this embankment of this here ravine and was caught in the brambles,” Cal said, trying to keep his voice steady and friendly. “I was just helping it get free before it thrashed about enough to do real damage to itself.” The calf’s cow was standing on firm grounding nearby, not showing that much concern for the plight of her little one.
“Sort of like what would happen in a wire fence of some homesteader’s lot,” the young cowboy said. He uncocked the rifle, but he didn’t remove it from the ready. Cal was quite sure the guy knew exactly how far Cal would have to move to get to his own rifle.
Cal also understood what the cowboy’s remark meant. It meant he was testing Cal out on what side of the cattlemen vs. farmer divide Cal was on. He wouldn’t fall for that one. He was just glad that he hadn’t been pegged for the more hated sheepmen faction—not to mention his background as an Arapaho. He’d be shot on sight for that. This was Ute territory down here, and the remnants of neither of the tribes had successfully been rounded up and shipped off yet. Indians caught off their designated lands were as fair game for the cattlemen as a wolf would be. Arapaho or Ute, it would all be the same to this man. Of course, some of each tribe had married into the pioneer families and passed now as settlers.
Cal took another hard look at the young man but decided that the mix in him was Mexican, not Ute.
“Yeah, this bush looks like it could do about as much damage as a wire fence could. I about got the calf free. It’s gonna kick a good bit when I do, though. Think you could come down here and give me a hand getting it up to its momma? Seeing as how it’s your ranch’s calf if you’re from the Double O.”
It was a ploy to neutralize the tension of the situation, of course—to get that rifle lowered. And it was using what Cal thought needed to be established—that he wasn’t making a claim on this calf. The calf hadn’t been branded yet, that Cal could see—although the cow certainly was. The law of the West on this was that Cal could walk away with it before it had been branded as someone’s property if he could manage that. He wanted to dispel any notion that he was making any such claim or had any such intention.
It worked. The rifle uncocked and at the cowboy’s side, the half-breed slid down the embankment to help Cal with the calf, which now, indeed, was free but without any sense Çapa Escort of what else needed to be done to reunite it with the cow. Cattle aren’t famous for their brilliance, no matter how old they get. The two men, huffing and puffing to get the calf moving in the right direction, worked together, straining their muscles, coming into contact, a contact that was arousing Cal, who had assessed the other man as desirable from first sight. He was fairly blushing and trembling when they got the calf up the embankment. The cow slowly moved over and took possession of the bawling calf as if she had never been worried and had done all the work of freeing it herself.
Cal had gone hard and hoped to god the young cowboy couldn’t tell that. He turned at an angle from the dark, handsome young wrangler, both to put himself in a vulnerable, nonthreatening position and so that the cowboy couldn’t see that the Confederate-issue thin woolen pants he was wearing were tenting and straining at the crotch. But then he thought, what the hell, and turned full to the cowboy. Cal was hard because the man was hunky and Cal was horny. If the cowboy wanted him, Cal would open his legs for him.
Men being attracted to and having sex with other men wasn’t as uncommon out here on the edge of civilization where there were few women but greater appetites for sexual fulfillment than there were back on the more restrained, less dangerous, East Coast. It wasn’t unnatural for Cal, who already was conditioned to lie under men, to check other men out as possible sex partners. And it was more likely here, in the still-wild West that he’d find a seeking top than he would in Boston or Charleston, but even there it was more likely than most folks would think it was. It was easier to find a man who would top another man out here too than it was to find a submissive, like Cal. For many out here, a hole was a hole, and a jack off was all that was needed. Cal had no trouble finding men who would mount him. It was natural that he would assess this young cowboy who had gotten the upper hand with him already, and, at least initially, Cal thought the interest was there.
Cal put himself in the stances that advertised that he was interested and available. If the cowboy saw that and was interested, that was fine with Cal. If not, that was fine with Cal too. Whatever, he wanted to stay on the good side with this man who had the drop on him.
Everything about the young man was bigger than Cal—his height and heft, which was invested in muscle rather than fat. The reach of his arms, the size of his calloused hands. The thickness of his lips and the white toothiness of his smile. The mound at his crotch, emphasized by being framed by the chaps on the cowboy’s legs, appeared to signal his interest. All of Cal’s experience in being aroused was based in the other man overpowering him and being able to manhandle him at will. Cal hadn’t moved far from wanting to have it taken from him rather than seeking it out. Ilesh understood that, and it remained an element of their lovemaking.
The Çapa Escort Bayan rifle—the phallic symbolism of it not escaping Cal—remained at the man’s side, and he too had changed from an angled-away stance from Cal to a full frontal, which showed tenting at the crotch. Looking in the northwestern direction, the direction in which Cal’s mule was standing, he asked. “Where’d you come from and where you going to?”
The question sounded friendly enough, but Cal knew that he was still under scrutiny. He was on the Double O’s range. Assuming this was one of the ranch’s hands, it was his responsibility to make a determination on any young man crossing the ranch, especially in these troubling times. And if it wasn’t a Double O ranch hand, it likely was someone who shouldn’t be on Double O land, which made him twice as dangerous and skittish.
“On my way to Hayden,” Cal answered, trying to keep his voice casual. “I’m from up at Milo Mather’s mill.” It wasn’t a lie he’d be caught in any time soon; he, in fact, had come from the mill. “We were told to clear out for a piece and so we did. I’ve been over at Crawford’s ranch in Steamboat, east of here, and now am going to Hayden to do some work.” His explanation was getting more dicey here, but it still was well within the realm of possibilities that a Double O ranch hand would know. Hiram had said that it was Double O men who had told the mill workers to scatter, while not targeting them for anything. In identifying Steamboat and the Crawfords, Cal brought into play a known family settled where a town was forming to the southeast but still on the northern side of the Yampa—thus well away in direction from the Slater Creek valley that had been blocked off.
“Well, thank you kindly for freeing the calf then,” the man said. He tipped his broad-brimmed hat and moved toward his horse, which was standing off a bit to the west of the gully. He turned at the horse and said, “Maybe we’ll meet again.”
Cal swallowed hard, seeing the possibility in the man’s smile and the look in his eyes, making him wonder if he was overassessing what the young man might be suggesting in what he was saying, but knowing that if the cowboy walked back to him now, Cal would lay down and open his legs to him.
“Maybe. I think that might be nice,” Cal answered, looking straight into the cowboy’s eyes, moving the “maybes” along if that was what the hunky young man was beginning to negotiate. “Maybe we can meet now . . . if you’d like,” he added.
* * * *
The cowboy fucked Cal there on the bank of the ravine, Cal on all fours and the man on top of him, mounted on his ass, hugging him with arms encircling Cal’s chest, chin pressing into the back of Cal’s neck, and fucking him like a dog. It was just a brief relief of tension, a getting your rocks off when and as you can opportunity. The man had assessed Cal as a submissive, of which there were a limited number out here in the man’s world of the range. He either had to take his opportunities like this when he could or take care Escort Çapa of himself with his hand. Most of the sex on the range was of the masturbation kind. Cal had made all of the right responses to the dance of the negotiations and went down on all fours for the man as a means to distract him from asking more questions about where Cal had come from, where he was going, and what side of the cattleman-farmer divide he fell on. It was just a natural body need relief the two men were after and it was performed in that vein.
Cal’s trousers were down around his knees and his bare butt was raised to the sky. The man was fully clothed other than his fly being unbuttoned and his erection projecting from there. The man fucked Cal, Cal came inside his own hand, the man pulled out and shot his load on Cal’s buttocks, the man grunted, he slapped Cal on the buttocks, and he rose from Cal and was in the saddle on his horse, without immediate comment, a minute later.
The cowboy tipped his hat from the saddle, muttered. “Thank you much. That were a good one. Maybe I’ll see you again,” and slowly trotted off to the north, maybe, Cal thought, to help man the barricade at the south end of the Salter Creek valley—and probably not meaning anything at all except neighborliness in the “see you again” remark. Cal probably had no cause to think there was any more than that—it probably was just him thinking on what lay ahead for him in Hayden, where lying under one man would be much the same as under any other man paying the same price.
Cal momentarily regretted that the two obviously were on opposite sides of something so much larger than either one of them. Then he too went up the opposite embankment, pulled his reluctant mule down and up the gully onto the western side, and started riding down to the banks of the Yampa.
It was dark before he saw the lights of Hayden on the other side of the river. It hadn’t gotten dark enough, though, for him not to have noticed that the sultry young ranch hand had been scouting him throughout his journey down to the Yampa and then along it, west, toward Hayden. Cal wasn’t too worried, though. If the ranch hand had wanted to do him harm, he could have shot him at any point during the ride, and Cal would have just lain out on the range, being reduced to blanched bones and then to dust, without anyone being the wiser.
And if the ranch hand had wanted to fuck him in more pleasurably ways, he only needed to have said so—to ask Cal for it, or better yet for Cal’s arousal, just tell him they were going to fuck again, taking their time at it. Cal would have liked a slower, more sensual, coupling. Out here on the range, with few women around and men being randy no matter where they were, men could be direct about what they wanted and no one took umbrage at the suggestion even if it was off in figuring—well, most didn’t, anyway. Those who did didn’t act without having the upper hand, and at no point during Cal’s contact with the young cowboy did either one of them misunderstand who had the upper hand. That, in itself, had been arousing to Cal. He would have like to have been taken harder, rougher, and at greater length.
Cal was more worried that the Yampa was in higher flow than he’d anticipated and that it would be far into the night before he’d find a good place to cross.
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