When Evan Marshall’s beloved horse dies right smack dab in the middle of rodeo season, he’s not only emotionally crushed but in danger of losing his ranking and a trip to the national finals. What's a cowboy without a horse to do? Buy a replacement, of course. After spending his accumulated winnings on a quarter horse named Gus, Evan discovers that he got far more than he bargained for.
It looked like every country and western bar Evan had ever been in. It smelled the same too, like cigarette smoke, beer and sawdust. The band was decent, although a bit loud. They were playing an old Alabama song at the moment. It was easy to see how those bull riders would’ve come in and sat down before noticing there were no women. No, that wasn’t true. Evan noticed right away that there were only men on the dance floor, but maybe he was looking for it. It could probably be overlooked if one were headed straight for the bar. The bar ran perpendicular to the doorway and was the first thing you noticed upon entry. Not to mention the place was dark and cloudy with smoke. Although the name of the bar, The Neon Rainbow, should have been a dead giveaway. Then again, he supposed an Alan Jackson fan wouldn’t think much of the name, since Alan had a song called “Chasing that Neon Rainbow.”
Evan sauntered in and took a seat at the big, dominating wood bar. If it weren’t for the assortment of neon signs around the mirror behind the bar, the place would’ve brought to mind an old saloon.
“What’ll it be?” The bartender wiped down the bar in front of Evan.
The man dipped his head and walked off down to the end of the bar. He bent over and came up with a longneck. As he headed back, Evan pulled the billfold out of his back pocket.
“Five dollars.” The bartender twisted off the cap and slid the beer across the smooth dark surface right to Evan.
“Thank you.” Evan tossed a five down on the bar and put his wallet up.
The bartender took the money and stepped away, already talking to another patron.
Evan snagged his beer and turned on his barstool, surveying the crowd. Two big ole rough-looking cowboys two-stepped their way past and Evan grinned. He could just imagine Benson and his group of friends sitting down, ordering a drink then turning to find a very similar sight to the one Evan was now watching. Oh, to have seen the look on their faces… Evan took a drink, still smiling. He got a vision of them looking like cartoon characters with their eyes popping out of their heads and chuckled.
The back corners of the room were pretty dark. A short, stocky cowboy pulled another tall man toward the back wall. Hmm, there looked to be back room, well not actually back, more like a side. It was across the dance floor on the other side of the bar. The two men he just saw disappeared behind a black curtain. Evan had heard about them, but he’d never been in one before. Most the bars he went to were pretty much just a place to drink and meet people. If couples wanted to get to know one another better, they usually went to the restroom, although Evan had been in a few places where people didn’t even bother trying to make it that far. He’d always been too picky. Anonymous sex wasn’t his thing. He took a long pull from his bottle as he watched another couple, who were hanging all over one another, practically fall into the room.
Damn, that was kinda hot, maybe he’d had more beers at the other bar than he’d thought. Evan shook his head and drank down the rest of his beer. He’d been too long with nothing but his hand if he was thinking sex with a stranger was appealing.
Turning back to the bar to set his empty bottle down, Evan caught a glimpse of gray and green in the mirror. His gaze locked with the reflection’s. Did the guy wink at him? Gray hat and green shirt. Evan dropped the bottle and whipped his head around so fast his neck popped. Ack. He stretched his head side-to-side as he searched the crowd. The bottle continued to clatter behind him on top of the bar, then stopped. Evan heard someone say “whoa, buddy,” but his attention centered on the vision at the edge of the dance floor.
The tall man in a green shirt and gray hat had turned around and was walking away.
Hot damn. It was the same man. Evan would recognize that frame anywhere. He’d been lusting after it for months now. A pang of excitement shot through him at the prospect of his cowboy showing up here and what it meant.