Today I am so pleased to welcome A.M. Arthur to Joyfully Jay. A.M. has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Hard Ride. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thanks so much to the folks here at Joyfully Jay for having me today to talk about my new release, HARD RIDE (Clean Slate Ranch #5). Single guy Derrick Massey is facing a long summer of five family weddings, and he needs a fake boyfriend to keep his family off his back about settling down. Quiet cowboy Slater needs a place to stay in the city while he heals from a broken ankle, and what starts out as an arrangement starts to feel more like the real thing. The excerpt below is their first semi-awkward morning together after Slater moves into Derrick’s apartment.
It was still early-ish, only a little after nine, so Derrick settled on the futon with his phone and earbuds to watch Netflix for a while.
He woke with the sun barely rising and Slater shouting his name.
Derrick nearly fell getting off the futon, not used to sleeping on its lumpy cushions, and he scrambled to the bedroom. “What’s wrong?”
Slater glared in his general direction. The covers were thrown back, and his cast dangled off the side of the bed in a way that looked painful and awkward. “I need help,” Slater said, tone clearly indicating his displeasure with the statement. “My ribs are killing me and I can’t manage sitting up, and I’ve gotta piss.”
“Oh. Okay.” So not an emergency, then. Good. Now Derrick needed to get his racing heart to calm down. He’d never been woken up by someone screaming his name before and he’d panicked. “How urgent is the need to pee, because I can get a bottle—?”
“My foot hurts like hell, and I don’t have the energy to stand and balance.”
“No problem. Um, do you want to grab my hands and pull, or should I support you from behind and push?”
Slater let out a long, unhappy groan when they finally got him sitting upright. He pressed one hand to his left side. “How is it possible I feel worse today than I did yesterday?”
“Yesterday you did a whole lot of moving around you haven’t done since before your fall. You gotta rest and take it easy, or you aren’t going to heal.” Derrick brought the crutches over, and he helped steady Slater as the man rose. The fact that they were similar in height made the whole production easier.
Once they were in the bathroom, Derrick asked, “You need me to pull your shorts down, man? I promise not to cop a feel.”
“I’m only saying yes because I really need a pain pill right now.”
“Cool.” Derrick politely averted his eyes as he tugged the gym shorts down and then helped Slater sit on the can. “I’ll get the pill.”
He gave Slater a few minutes as he gathered up his meds, water, and two crackers to take with the pills, because Slater was due for an ibuprofen too. Slater stuffed the crackers into his mouth after he took the pills. Derrick helped him stand and pull his shorts back up. Waited by his side while he washed, not liking the stiff way Slater moved.
They got him settled on the futon, and Derrick fetched the stool for his ankle. Got an ice pack and a towel, too. “You’re a lifesaver,” Slater said.
“This lifesaver needs to take a shower and get ready for work.”
Slater stared a beat. “Oh yeah. I guess it is Monday.”
“Do you need me to take the day off? I can if you think you’ll need help.” As much as Derrick adored his job, he’d take time off in a heartbeat if Slater asked him to. Slater was still figuring out his crutches and getting used to the apartment, so—
“Nah, I can manage. Do your thing, you don’t have to babysit me.”
Derrick held Slater’s gaze but the guy had a great poker face, and if Derrick insisted he should stay, Slater would just insist Derrick leave. Slater was stubborn as hell, and while he accepted the help Derrick offered, he clearly didn’t like it. “Okay.” He showed Slater how to use his TV and gaming system before hitting the shower.
After he dressed, Derrick made them both a quick breakfast of frozen waffles. Wrote a list of phone numbers for Slater including his office number, Dez’s cell (since she worked from home), the landlord’s number, and just to be an ass, added, “911 – in case of emergency.”
Slater rolled his eyes at that.
“Seriously, though,” Derrick said. “If you fall or get too tired to do something, call me or Dez. She’s super chill and lives right across the foyer.
“I will. Thank you. Now go to work.”
Derrick grabbed his laptop bag, double-checked his phone was in it, and headed for the apartment door. “Don’t burn the place down while I’m gone.”
“It’ll all be cinders by lunchtime.”
With a snort of laughter and a tiny ounce of worry for his friend, Derrick went to work.
Five Weddings and a Fake Boyfriend
City slicker Derrick Massey has always had a thing for cowboys. So a roll in the hay with Kendall “Slater” Stamos during a rustic weekend wedding is more than A-OK. But when Slater’s forced to hang up his saddle for the season, Derrick surprises even himself with his proposition: be my fake boyfriend and get my family off my back about finding a permanent partner.
Though unexpected, the arrangement is a win-win. Derrick gets a plus-one for a slew of summer weddings and Slater gets a place to stay while he recuperates…with lots of casual fun in between. Which is just how the sexy cowboy likes it: casual. Yet it’s obvious the chemistry between them is anything but.
With the countdown to their “breakup” on, the more time the two men spend together. And the more it becomes clear that what they have could be real, if only they let it be.
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Carina Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your cooking tips (or book comments). For updates, info and the occasional freebie, sign up for her free newsletter: https://vr2.verticalresponse.com/s/signupformynewsletter16492674416904
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