“What’d you do?”
“What could I do? I was beyond pissed off. Trevor not telling anyone about us was always a big issue between us. I understood his reasons and never pushed it. But when he made fun of guys who had the balls to come out of the closet? That was a line he shouldn’t’ve crossed. I hated he’d done it in front of me.” Edgard shoved a hand through his hair. “After dinner, the whole family loaded up and went to the big rodeo dance. I declined.
“I burned my bootheels getting to the g*y cowboy bar in Denver and hooked up with a dentist who was in town for the rodeo. I spent the night in his hotel room and didn’t see Trevor until the following afternoon when we had to compete.”
Chassie figured she wouldn’t much care for Trevor’s jealous reaction, but she wouldn’t be surprised by it.
“We sucked in the arena. Lost our chance for points or purse. Soon as we were alone he lit into me. We fought. Not with words. With our fists. We beat the shit out of each other, Chass. It was ugly.”
“Where’d it happen? Since you were always so discreet?”
“In the living quarters of the horse trailer. Trev said something. I said something back. He took the first punch. I landed the last. Christ, we were rolling around on the floor, bleeding—”
Edgard closed his eyes. “When we were shoving each other some beer bottles got broken and we just kept going, stomping all over them. Trevor slipped and fell and I didn’t help him up, I just kept beating on him. So he has a cut on his back and I have a gash on my arm as a memento.”
She didn’t comment since she couldn’t imagine the frustration they’d been dealing with before Edgard stepped out on Trevor.
“Colby damn near had to break down the door. He threatened to find new traveling partners if we didn’t get a handle on the situation. Somehow we reassured him we’d deal with it, but that was the beginning of the end for us.”
“What do you mean?”
“Trevor wanted to be with me only on his terms. I was tired of the secret life and the lies it took to maintain it. At the time…I couldn’t see past my self-righteous streak that I wasn’t gonna hide who I was from anyone any more.”
At the time? Strange way to phrase it. “The dentist reminded you of that?”
“He reminded me lots of men live together openly. Did I engage in a one-night stand to hurt Trevor? Probably. But it ended up hurting me too because it gave me a taste of what I could never have. At least not with Trevor. I’d never been into the multiple partner, circle jerk, meaningless fast encounters in the clubs or bathrooms. I’ve always been…”
“And that’s bad?”
“No, that’s just not the norm.”
“Dag was so far in the closet he suffocated in there,” Chassie said. “I don’t know what normal is. I’d rather be hurt by upfront honesty than hurt by a long-standing lie.”
“I used to think that too.” Edgard picked at the plastic seam in the tablecloth.
Finally Chassie’s nerves couldn’t stand whatever he was hiding. She covered his hand with hers. “Tell me.”
“I saw Dag that night I was in the g*y bar in Denver.”
Her stomach swirled her coffee into a frothy latte. “Who was he with? Shit. No, don’t tell me.” She inhaled. “Yes. Tell me. Please.”
“A skinny, young Goth looking kid. No one I knew. No one from the circuit. No one I’d ever seen, which wasn’t surprising. They were dancing…and dammit, Chassie. I don’t wanna—”
“Tell me. He’s dead and I realized too late that I barely knew him or his life outside of here.”
Edgard locked his gaze to hers. “Dag looked happier than I’d ever seen him.
Comfortable in his own skin. After seeing him smiling and relaxed with that twinkie, I knew why he’d been so damn combative on the circuit.”
Hot tears sparked in her eyes. “The last year he was so angry. And drunk. God. He was always drunk and when he was home he and Daddy were always at each other’s throats. I’d’ve given anything to see him happy just one time. Did he recognize you?”
“No. Dag didn’t see me. And I was used to dealing with Trevor and his secrecy and denial so I never let on I saw him.” He sighed. “Hell. I never even told Trevor I saw Dag, Chass. But it stuck in my head and eight months later I returned to Brazil.”
“So there’s been no one since Trevor?”
“I didn’t say that,” Edgard hedged. “I tried a couple random encounters in Sao Paulo and I felt…worse than when I was obsessed with getting laid. I met a guy, Reynaldo, who did some remodeling for me. We hooked up, we were out, but it was casual. Six months into it I took Rey home to meet my mother and the rest of my family. He knew my heart wasn’t in it, even when I never mentioned Trevor to him.”
Chassie frowned. “Never?”
Edgard shook his head.
“What happened when you took him home?”
“My mother didn’t like him.” His humor vanished. “Then she died and everything went to hell. Reynaldo…” He scrubbed his hands on his scalp. “Chassie, can we stop talking about this now? Please?”
“I think that’s probably smart,” Trevor said as he sidled into the kitchen. “I’m sorry about your ma, Ed. I know how close you were to her.”
Trevor poured the last of the coffee in his mug and shut off the pot. “Cattle been fed yet?”
“No. But Greta has.”
He scowled, but it was playful, not mean. “Damn goat’s probably eatin’ better than us.” Trevor put his hand on Edgard’s shoulder; more loverly than friendly. “I’ll take care of the cattle. You comin’ along to help me?”
Edgard beamed from Trevor’s simple affectionate gesture. “Absolutely.”
They belong together. You can’t come between them.
Chassie’s inner vixen offered her jealous side a seductive dare, Oh yeah? Stick around and watch me because I plan on being between them a lot.
Yes, it was shaping up to be a very promising day.
True to her mental promise, a couple hours after supper, as the three of them were watching TV, Chassie said casually, “Anyone hungry?”
She paused, waiting for them to look at her. When they did, she vamped, “For a Chassie sandwich?”