The following is a free excerpt from the most recent book, and the title is only tentative right now. This is part of a four book western romance series that will focus on cowboys with strong stories. The excerpt is so new I'm actually editing it as I put it up. So keep in mind this hasn't seen a copy editor yet, and there might be a few changes in the final book.
From Chapter Two:
As he was about to turn back to clean up the breakfast dishes so he could get to work on the exterior of the building that day, he saw a young man in a cowboy hat stop in front of the building and glance at the front porch. The young man stood there for a moment, with his hands in his pockets, rocking from heel to toe in his cowboy boots. And then he stepped forward, climbed the front steps, and knocked on the door with a solid pound.
Sebastian set his mug on a table and jogged to the stairway. He was wearing black work-out pants with a white stripe down the sides and a plain white T-shirt. A year earlier, this was an outfit he would have worn for a run on a Saturday morning in the trailer park when Dan was still alive and his biggest worry was whether to plant impatiens or begonias near the front door, or whether to serve steak or chicken to Dan and Hick that night. But that morning he didn’t even bother to put on shoes and socks. He ran down the steps as fast as he could to answer the door, hoping this guy wanted to rent one of the rooms. He needed that source of income in a bad way, and so far no one had inquired about the rooms. He’d begun to worry no one would want to rent a place in that building. It still looked awful from the outside, and he’d only spruced things up to make thing presentable on the inside. He hadn’t even gone through his late uncle’s personal belongings yet because there hadn’t been time. He and Hick had packed up his uncle’s things in boxes and placed them in boxes in the garage out back.
When he opened the door, a tall young man in his twenties nodded and said, “Howdy, I’m J U double D, Judd, from Lubbock and I’d like to inquire about the room for rent.” He had a deep voice, with a thick Texas accent. Although Sebastian had grown up hearing cowboys say howdy on the ranch, living in Houston all those years had made him unfamiliar with the casual way country people spoke.
He smiled and said, “Hey, I’m Sebastian. It’s nice to meet you, Judd.”
“Is the room still for rent,” Judd asked, “Cuz I need a place real badly, bro. I just took a job at the Marshall Ranch, but they don’t have no living arrangements there. They told me to come here and check you out.” He spoke with double negatives in a refreshing, unapologetic way, and dropped all his G’s.
“The Marshall Ranch,” Sebastian said, with an invisible question mark at the end. He felt awkward now, because he hadn’t put on shoes and combed his hair.
“It’s a small place, where they board and train horses,” Judd said. “There ain’t a horse I can’t break.” He pronounced the word can’t as if it rhymed with ain’t.
Sebastian found it interesting that even though he’d never heard of the Marshall Ranch, they’d heard of him and they knew he had rooms to rent. He’d noticed cars slowing down as they passed the building, and people walking by and murmuring things to each other. He would soon learn word travels much faster than he ever realized in small towns like Glendora. He’d grown up in the country, and lived the better part of his adult life near the city, so he was unfamiliar to small town ways at that point.
He stepped aside and said, “I’m renting the third floor and fourth floors. If you’d like to see them, I can show them to you right now if you have time. Sorry I look this way. I just woke up and I didn’t expect anyone this early.”
Judd removed his hat and stepped into the small vestibule that led to a flight of stairs. “Don’t worry about it, bro. You look fine.”
Sebastian noticed he was a large, tall man, but lean and muscular, too. He had dark brown hair that was short and a little messy on top. He wore a navy blue T-shirt that day that bunched up around his biceps. When he lifted his right arm to remove his hat, his bicep tightened to a rock solid mass that left Sebastian with a weak feeling in his stomach. He hadn’t seen a man with arms like that since the last time he’d gone to his old gym in Houston…when he still had money to afford to go to a gym. Now his workout came from working on the building and lugging tools around all the time.
As they climbed to the fourth floor so Sebastian could show him that part of the building first, he noticed how Judd had to turn his feet to the side because his big black cowboy boots didn’t fit on the steps. And with each step he took, the stairs vibrated a little, as if the old building were afraid of him.
At the top floor, Sebastian followed Judd into the main living space and said, “I’m renting out this floor and the one below it. I plan to make more improvements as soon as I can, but this is basically it for right now, I’m afraid.” He’d painted the walls, waxed the floors, and cleaned and spruced up the furniture as best he could. He’d hung blinds on the windows and bleached the old white tiles in the bathroom to the point where he’d almost passed out from the fumes. But clearly nothing had been done to that small apartment in years and he felt the need to apologize for this.
After he walked around and checked it all out, Judd said, “It’s big. I thought it was just a room. I’m not sure I need anything this big. I only come and go.” It was the entire fourth floor, which consisted of the same amount of space where Sebastian and Hick lived on the second floor. He’d never rented to anyone before and he hadn’t been sure how to advertise so he’d used the word rooms instead of apartments.
“I’m sorry,” Sebastian said. “I didn’t mean to mislead you. I just didn’t want people showing up thinking that I was renting out expensive apartments. I’m asking a lot less than the normal rent around here because I know I still have a lot of work to do on the place.”
Judd smiled and said, “Don’t go getting all upset now. I didn’t mean it that way. It’s nice, actually very nice. I’m just not sure I can afford a place this big, is all. How much you asking?”