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Even the rope is bigger in Texas:)
A Raider's Bodyguards Tale
Once a Texan, always a Texan and Brian Beaumont has come back home to open his high-end western wear shop. Not everyone is thrilled with the gay son of a Texas millionaire opening a clothing store. Lucky for Brian, his new brother-in-law sends protection from Raider’s Bodyguard Service. If only Brian could resist the hunky muscled Texas native assigned to guard his body day and night.
Jones never wanted to go back to Texas. He left at eighteen for many reasons, but his career is more important than the demons of his past. Always a professional, he meets his match in the tempting Brian. The line between business and pleasure vanishes when their mutual love of sex, rope and power play takes over.
The Western wear shop designed like an old saloon wasn’t yet open, but the flurry of activity made Brian smile. His dream was coming true, and in a couple weeks, the shop would open. Brian’s cell rang, and he grabbed it off the hardwood counter.
“Hey, Mrs. Raider,” he answered teasingly. His sister, Penny, had pulled off the biggest wedding in Texas history and jetted off to Hawaii with her bodyguard hubby, Grayson Raider.
“Stop it,” she replied.
He could hear the smile. “How’s that sex on the beach? Make sure you use sunscreen. You burn.”
“Brian, it’s my honeymoon. I’m not doing that on the beach. You’re terrible. How’s the shop?” she asked.
“Coming together. You didn’t have to come up for air to check on me.” Brian was so happy for his sister. The couple glowed with passion, and Penny marrying a Yankee had sent tidal waves through the family. The fact that it didn’t bother Penny at all told Brian it was forever.
“We’ll be back in time for the grand opening, but we’re sending you an early present.” Her voice was soft.
Brian knew it was more than a gift. “Present?”
“Dad mentioned you might have some issues. Protestors and stuff.”
“Please. It’s leather, boots and jackets. Pure Texas with a bit more class. They’re only going to protest because I’m gay and a Beaumont. It’s nothing. Ignoring it is best.” Brian had heard it already, and nothing would stop him.
“But you are high profile because of Dad’s money. Isn’t that the excuse you used when I went to Italy?” she replied.
“Oh no, you don’t. No, Penny, I’m not a sweet girl who needs a bodyguard.” Brain knew being gay meant he might as well being wearing a dress to a lot of his family, but Penny didn’t think that way. Brian worked out and could defend himself, but the gay label came first. Still he loved everything Texas, riding, roping and leather.
“Big tough movie stars use bodyguards. Grayson went to a lot of trouble to pick the right team.”
“Team?” Brian leaned on one of the pillars in the store. The rope to wind around them was still in a box. He had so much to do. “I don’t need men underfoot to get in the way.”
“Think about your employees, Brian. All the workers and delivery people. It’s not just you that could be hurt or scared. The bodyguards will keep things under control.” Penny made it sound so sensible and easy.
“Is this what I did to you?” he asked.
“Pretty much. And you drooled over Grayson. I won’t do that to Jones. Just take the help. Family perks from your new brother-in-law.”
“Is this Jones a Raider?” Brian knew how attractive those men were. That was another type of distraction he didn’t need.
“No, Jones is an employee from the L.A. branch. He’s dealt with this stuff before—all that gay marriage back and forth. It’ll be fine.” Penny sounded confident.
“This is Texas, not California,” Brian reminded her.
“Will you relax? He’s a professional. And when Grayson and I get back in for the opening, he’ll review the situation and decide what’s best. Now, I’ve got to get changed for the luau. Promise me you’ll play nice with Jones and let him do his job.”
“When is he arriving?” Brian asked.
“Promise me,” Penny pushed back.
The front door opened, and Brian looked up. A tall man with shoulders that took over the doorway stole Brian’s focus. Black hair, dark eyes, and muscles for days. Jeans and a gray T-shirt were filled out to perfection, but the black boots were the hottest part. Those told Brian that this guy knew style. Brian’s gaydar tingled.
“Fine, I promise to play nice. Gotta go. Work to do. You need to get back to making me a niece to spoil and style.”
“Brian!” Penny replied.
“Aloha.” Brian disconnected and turned to the new guy. “Can I help you?”
“Brian Beaumont?” His deep voice made Brian pray this was Jones.
“Guilty.” Brian smiled. “You are?”
“Jones Preston from Raiders. You’re expecting me?” He held out a hand.
“Just got the news from my sister.” Brian took his hand, and the spark made his shake a little too long. He pulled back and wiped his palm before his turned into a giggling idiot. “I’m still putting the place together. Not much for you to do.”
“Protection is all the time. My team is scouting the area. Interviewing other owners and making sure what we’re dealing with. Seeing if anyone will be trouble.” Jones looked around. “Nice set up.”
“Thanks. But really, I picked a gay friendly area. I can’t imagine there will be an issue. It’s the conservatives. My Dad runs in those circles. So it could be an issue there. Texas can be weird about things like that. My Dad is big; so odds are they won’t hurt me or anyone. It’s just a big show.”
“Let me worry about that.” Jones walked closer. “For the next two weeks, you let me worry about your safety and you listen to me. I’ve got your back, and I’m not putting up with any arguments or games.”
Brian could think of dozens of naughty games to play with a man so tightly wound. Jones oozed power and control. “I appreciate my brother-in-law’s concern. I’ll let you do your thing. But I’m not a damsel in distress. I grew up in Texas. I know what I’m dealing with. Not sure L.A. guys can handle it.” Brian leaned in with his hands on the counter and tightened his muscles to show off.
A barely noticeable tug at the corner of Jones’ mouth gave Brian a thrill. The man wasn’t all gloom and business.
“I’m sure you can defend yourself. These situations can get heated and tense. Protestors can turn crazy. You need more than muscle for that. You need a neutral party to calm things down.” Jones glanced at Brian’s nice sculpted arms.
“I’m not looking for trouble. It’s not like I opened a gay bar or dating service. Penny and I always loved fashion. I like leather and the Texas look. Being gay owned doesn’t make this a gay business. It’s not like my leather jackets are done in rainbow.” Brian took a deep breath. Part of him believed he’d found his place in the world. He knew what he wanted, but still he felt so alone. Was the world against him?
“I understand. Once you’re open and people are here for the merchandise, things will probably calm down. It’s the grand opening and the prep time…this is when you’re most vulnerable. Others are forming opinions without information. Anything can happen.”
The urge to keep arguing with the sexy man kept Brian’s mouth going. “But nothing has happened. No threats or protests.”
He’d only been in the space for a couple days.
Jones nodded. “Fair enough. But you’re barely started by the looks of it. Grayson said the lease began a day or so ago. Troublemakers take time to get followers. The classy ones are putting pressure on your dad to do something to stop you. Move you to L.A. or New York. It might be quiet. Or it could escalate. You have deliveries coming. Strangers will be in and out. Very vulnerable. One could slip in and plant a bomb.”
“A bomb?” Brian shivered at the idea. “Come on. Get real.”
“I am. With my guys watching, no one will get in and cause trouble. All strangers will be watched and names taken. It lets people know we’re paying attention so if someone tries something, we know who was in the shop. Just asking for identification is a deterrent.” Jones was confident and serious.
Brian relaxed. “That’s where you come in. Protecting my employees is important to me. They shouldn’t be in danger because of my personal life.”
“So you’ll let me do my job?” Jones asked.
“Not sure I ever had a choice.”
“It’s your shop. I can’t protect you without your cooperation,” Jones admitted.
“Met my sister?” Brian asked.
Jones shrugged. “No, got my orders from Grayson by phone.”
“My sister is a force of nature. She gets her way. You report I’m resisting, and I’ll never hear the end of it. But I’ll cooperate.” Brian studied Jones, wanting to flirt and cooperate naked, but the all business signals shut down Brian’s boy cruising. Clearly, Jones was serious about his work. “So how do you think you’re going to handle all the Texas stuff? I promise, this isn’t L.A.”
Jones smiled wide. “No, it sure isn’t. But I’ll manage.” The soft Texas drawl rolled off Jones’ tongue.
Dazzled, Brian wanted more of Jones and that magic tongue.
“You’re from Texas?” Brian asked.
Jones smiled. Brian recovered quickly, but Jones had thrown him off balance. Jones seemed at ease.
“I lived here until I was eighteen. As soon as I could, I left for a safer place.” Jones didn’t talk about his sexuality much. At least not at work. “L.A. is much safer.”
“Dallas isn’t bad in the city. I escaped to New York for college, but this is home. I’ve accepted it; now, they’ll accept me.”
“Like it or not?” Jones admired Brian’s courage and conviction.
That and his piercing green eyes. Brian’s brown hair was short and would pass any manly inspection. The lean muscled form also met with Jones’ approval. Brian could protect himself, but Jones knew his interest in Brian’s body was not at all professional. He’d avoided involvement with a client thus far, but the day had arrived. Jones was attracted to a client. To deny it was pointless, but Jones had to push it away. His job was far more important than a fling.
“Texas is home. I’m not running. I like my Uncle Lubby’s little ranch. I could ride and rope as well as any kid growing up. I bet you’re good with a rope.” Brian flirted.
“I do okay.” Jones wanted to give in. Back in L.A., if they’d met in a bar, they’d be making out by now. Jones would take him home, and after a night of great sex, they’d be over. But Jones valued his job. No way would he ruin his reputation.
“So you went to L.A. and became a bodyguard?” Brian prompted.
It was normal for people to want to know something about the person they’d let into their life to protect them. This was less flirt and more sanity. “I started as a bartender and then found I preferred the bouncer role. I got hired by some minor celebrities who wanted security.”
“The boy toy in a gay bar,” Brian teased.
“It was a gay bar, but I was hired for muscle, nothing more. This celebrity liked the biker types. Anyway, it got me other work, and discretion goes a long way in this business. I ended up at Raider’s.” Jones looked Brian in the eye. “So I know something about Texas and about being gay. Trust me, I’ll keep you safe.”
Brian nodded. “Thanks.”
Jones wanted to get closer. To feel the heat from Brian. He’d been single a long time. Random sex never gave Jones what he wanted, but most relationships never got as deep as the information he’d just shared with Brian.